disc-free Netflix on Wii at last

great news, you don’t need the disc anymore to stream content fron Netflix on the Wii!

Starting today, Netflix customers in the US and Canada can instantly stream content through their Wii consoles without the need to fire up a disc first.

Netflix says members who have a plan starting at $8.99 a month (or $7.99 in Canada), a Wii and an Internet connection can now instantly watch movies and TV shows by downloading the application from the Wii Shop Channel.

The new channel is available at no extra cost.

I am finding netflix streaming to be a great way to sample some of the older anime fare in particular that I have missed out on.

Wii + Netflix = geek rapture

forget the Singularity (bah, humbug) – the real moment of transcendence approacheth. I just saw via @arstechnica that Netflix discs for Wii owners are being shipped out. Should have mine by next week!

This is bad news for Roku, because I was literally about to buy one when I first learned of Netflix on Wii. I still might be persuaded to buy a popbox eventually, but the Netflix/Wii combo will suffice for some time.

UPDATE: I just got the email from Netflix – my disc will arrive tomorrow. Don’t forget to grab yours at http://netflix.com/wii for free!

Also – the Netflix blog has a cheery blurb:

Jessie Becker here from Marketing and we’ve got some great news to share. We are in the final phase of getting ready for the launch of streaming to Wii. Today, we shipped out instant streaming discs for the Wii to some of our Netflix members. Their feedback will ensure that we deliver a great experience to everyone when we launch. Instantly watching movies and TV episodes from Netflix via Wii will be available soon at no additional cost – all you need is a Netflix unlimited plan starting at $8.99 a month, a Wii console and a broadband Internet connection. If you have reserved your disc already, you don’t need to do anything – we will send you an email as soon as we ship the disc. If you haven’t, reserve your disc today at www.netflix.com/Wii and stay tuned for a launch announcement!

Netflix coming to Wii

This was expected, and welcome news indeed: Netflix streaming is coming to the Wii in March.

Screw the Roku or popbox, man, between my DVD player and Wii I’ve got 95% of my bases covered now. And the Wii’s lack of HD support isn’t a big deal – for streaming, standard-def is actually better anyway, and most TV is still standard def anyway.

I think the console makers need to realize that they could basically swallow the market share of devices like Roku, Boxee, popbox, etc whole just by adding software support for video formats, a USB port, and WiFi to their next generation consoles.

I just logged into my netflix acct and reserved my Netflix Wii disc which unlocks the streaming. Ships automatically to my address! one click.

Boxee and Popbox gunning for Roku

I’ve prevously mentioned the Roku digital player as a game changer for home entertainment, but haven’t actually bought one yet. It looks now like there’s some serious competition to Roku, which is of course a good thing. The first is Boxee, which has a software-only variant you download to yor PC and also actual hardware slated for release this year. Like Roku, the Boxee box has simple connections for your TV, has built-in wifi, and USB for external drives. Boxee also has an SD card slot and intriguingly, a full QWERTY keyboard on the back of the remote. It isn’t clear if Boxee supports Netflix or the Amazon video store, but unfortunately Boxee was forced to yank Hulu support recently. Boxee is expected to cost about $200, which about twice what Roku costs.

The other challenger to Roku is popbox, which is an evolution of the Popcorn Hour box which Nick has been using (and promising to blog about for ages! *nudge* *nudge*). The popbox looks to be a simpler deice than Popcorn Hour’s flagship model the C-200, and promises support for pretty much every file format out there (including MKV, which doesn’t seem to be supported by Roku). Popbox will support netflix, and also crunchy roll which pretty much screams “otaku buy me!” – and its price is more comparable to Roku at $129 (available in March). The only downside is that it doesn’t come with wifi included, you have to shell out a little for that.

So, whats a prospective consumer like me to do? The ideal device for me would be to support every possible format (like popbox), built-in wifi (like boxee and roku), and be priced no higher than $150. And of course netflix support is the key. Its worth noting that both popbox and boxee also will have app development platforms so presumably someone could add support for other services. I also imagine that Roku isn’t going to sit back withouut any competitive response; if Roku could add MKV support then I’d probably still favor it over these other more featured, but more complicated and expensive, options. That has to be a simple firmware or software update, I imagine.

Regardless, it’s great to see how this market is coming along. With the death of disc imminent, it’s where the future is. You can easily imagine someone taking a BD player and adding a Roku to it and making a complete convergence device. In fact, what if Nintendo were to do that with Wii v2.0 – have it be a BD player like the PS3 and also support all these features in software? Given all the hype about mobile device convergence (camera+phone+PDA+apps) it makes sense that we would see a trend towards convergence in our living rooms. Theres no reason I should have to have a separate device for DVDs, games, and digital entertainment. The PS3 is closest to this now, in fact – but its expense still sets it apart. A fully converged device as I describe above, my hypothetical Wii 2.0, shoudl be priced no higher than $300 to really make inroads.

Related: article on Popbox at Electronista

Wii will rock you

Is the Wii’s wild ride over?

“It is unrealistic for any company in the entertainment industry to believe they can sustain aggressive growth,” Jesse Divnich, director of Analyst Services for Electronic Entertainment Design and Research (EEDAR) told Ars. “The appetites of consumers change too frequently when it comes to how we entertain ourselves. The same pace at which an entertainment product can grow is the same pace at which the product can retract.”

We’ve already seen the Nintendo Wii fall from its lofty heights in the United States. Last month the PlayStation 3 outsold the Wii by 29,000 units, an achievement that would have been surreal even six months ago. The Nintendo DS was still the number one selling piece of hardware, but only by 32,400 units.

It’s not much better worldwide. “Nintendo, which did not break down quarterly numbers, said it sold 5.75 million Wii machines around the world during the period, far short of the more than 10 million sold for the same six months last year,” the Associated Press reported.

anecdotally, I had to drive down to Peotone, IL from Madison WI today (and learned something about Iowa in the process). While stopping for coffee, I noted a huge line outside a Toys R Us – all waiting to get their hands on Nintendo Wii in stock. Granted, I’ve seen Wiis in stock at my local Target every day, but clealry there are still regional shortages and plenty of demand. Especially now that the price has dropped to $200 (grr) I think that this holiday season, there’s a lot of potential for a comeback.

Woot! Wii Fit in stock at Amazon.com

I’ve been trying to get a Wii Fit from the local Target for weeks now but just could not get my hands on one. It’s as popular as the Wii itself was when it first came out; now they routinely have 3-5 Wiis in stock but the Fit is sold out within minutes of new stock. On a lark, I gave Amazon a shot this morning and found to my astonishment that they had them in stock! I grabbed one immediately and it arrives on Wednesday. I look forward to being serially abused by my new electronic master forthwith.

Wii Fit! Woot!

wiifit

pc gaming is dead to me

It seems everyone is raving about the creature creator in Spore. As J says, expect to see a lot more of these. The idea behind Spore is truly brilliant, to let everything in the game evolve, the ultimate simulation of life. And yet, the game is already tainted by the promise of the same DRM that Shamus has been warning about for months – the game requires an online security check every ten days or it stops working. This is outrageous, well beyond the reasonable need of copy protection.

In fact, the recent coverage of these issues at Shamus’ site has led me to reconsider my own position on PC gaming entirely. I haven’t actually played a PC game since Tie Fighter and Myst: Exile. However, I have entertained thoughts of building a new rig for gaming (and scientific calculation, mostly MATLAB). Increasingly, though, the trend in PC gaming is towards more DRM, not less, and I don’t see any compelling argument to subject myself to the suspicion of being a criminal. Aside from Spore, that is – but Spore will also be released on the Wii.

In addition, at some point in the near future we will be biying an HDTV, and then will need a Blu-Ray player. The single best Blu-Ray player on the market, also the cheapest, is the Playstation 3. Between the Wii and the PS3, is there any genre of game that I might even theoretically want to play which isn’t available on the console side? Even Portal, the other game that has my attention, has a PS3 version.

I think it’s safe to simply declare that console gaming is the sole route I will follow from here on out. Rather than invest even a minimal $500 in building a gaming rig, I can buy ten games on the Wii. The value proposition of console gaming blows PC gaming out of the water since you aren’t stuck in the perpetual upgrade cycle – and consoles have astounding longevity, just look at the PS2 (another system I might pick up someday for kicks). And actually owning my games, and being able to play them without jumping through hoops, is just icing on the cake.