Netflix announced today that they have begun testing Mac video streaming to a small portion of their subscribers, and expects widespread availability by the end of the year.

Netflix, Inc., the world’s largest online movie rental service, today announced it has begun the deployment of Microsoft Silverlight to enhance the instant watching component of the Netflix service and to allow subscribers for the first time to watch movies and TV episodes instantly on their Intel-based Apple Macintosh computers. The deployment, which will initially touch a small percentage of new Netflix subscribers, is the first step in an anticipated roll-out of the new platform to all Netflix subscribers by the end of the year.

Earlier tonight, Apple issued a Security Update for Apple TV. According to Apple, this update (version 2.2) fixes a bug in Apple TV that could allow a “maliciously crafted movie file may lead to an unexpected application termination or arbitrary code execution.” This definitely doesn’t sound good to us.

It’s not all boring security stuff; Apple also added a Genius playlist function. To access the Genius function, just hold down the play/pause button while a song is playing, and a popup menu will allow you to “Start Genius,” or add to an on-the-go playlist.

Danny Gorog at APC Magazine has written a really nice analysis of something that’s rather strange when you think about it — why aren’t there any high definition DVD drives on Macs yet? It has been asked for by a few folks, but by and large, Apple has pretty much ignored the whole high definition debate. And even now, when we supposedly have a winner in Blu-ray, Apple hasn’t pulled the trigger, and consumers, as Gorog notes, haven’t even really cared much.

Netflix posted an announcement about new content available for streaming, including new movies and television shows:

Today we announced an agreement with Starz Play that adds around 1,000 choices that you can watch instantly today, and will add another 1,500 by the end of the year. Movies include “No Country for Old Men”, “Ratatouille,” “Pirates of the Caribbean: At World’s End,” “Superbad,” and more.

Recently we also added a lot of new CBS, Disney and NBC TV episodes including of CSI, NCIS, Numbers, Jericho, Hannah Montana and Heroes.

Netflix is best known for its mail-order DVD rental service but also includes unlimited video streaming with their fixed monthly plans starting at $9/month. Netflix also recently launched a $100 set top box that allows customers to stream video straight to their television.

The blog post also confirms that Mac support for streaming video will arrive by the end of the year:

And, for all of you Mac users (of which I am one) we’ve been busy working getting a solution that will allow you to watch instantly on your Mac. So hang in there – we’ll have something for you by the end of the year.

Netflix had previously revealed planned Mac support in January 2008 during Q4 financial results.

(Source: Wired)

Appletvmenu_w_boxee

A developer on Tuesday released a patch enabling Apple TV to play practically any DRM-free multimedia file with the insertion of a thumb drive into the box.

Normally, Apple TV can only play video and music files that are compatible with iTunes or bought through the iTunes Store, but coder Scott Davilla’s patch essentially “Jailbreaks” the TV set-top box from such restrictions by installing an open-source media center called Boxee.

An anonymous Apple reseller has stated that they received an e-mail from Apple with instructions to remove all Apple TV displays and literature and to destroy them (which I assume means throw away the literature, send back the Apple TVs) by September 30, 2008 at 5 PM. Additionally, the e-mail says that there will be a webcast “kick off” on September 30.

Incidentally, September 30 IS a Tuesday (and the last day of the September quarter), making all of this information, very, very interesting.

TiVo Inc. said Wednesday it will launch a new high-definition digital video recorder under an extended agreement with DirecTV Group Inc., reigniting a once-cooling relationship.

The new development deal extends the companies’ agreement by five years to Feb. 15, 2015, and calls for satellite television provider DirecTV to market TiVo’s DVR products to new customers for the first time since DirecTV began using a rival DVR.

The partnership helps TiVo, a pioneer in DVRs, gain access to DirecTV’s HD market. High definition is a key growth area for TiVo because it generally makes more per unit sold than with standard definition recorders.

The Transformers are preparing to roll out in a fully-loaded, two-disc Blu-ray presentation on September 2, 2008, giving fans the chance to discover that there’s definitely “More Than Meets The Eye” to the legendary autobots and decepticons. The highly-anticipated release is Paramount Home Entertainment’s first to incorporate BD Live capabilities.

The Blu-ray presentation offers consumers an incredible movie experience, packed full of bonus material that delivers excitement and fun for long-time fans, as well as for viewers who are new to the Transformers universe. Among the extensive special features, viewers can access commentary from director Michael Bay along with two documentaries that provide an in-depth look at the human elements of the film as well as the phenomenal robot stars.

Well, would you look at that? After a mildly uncomfortable wait, the very first Netflix set-top-box has landed (the Xbox 360 with plug-ins notwithstanding). Thanks to Roku, users can finally tap into (a portion of) the Netflix library without having to wait for physical discs to arrive — and for just $99.99, no less (though unlimited access to online films still requires an $8.95 or higher monthly fee for the traditional service). Better still, the HDD-less Netflix Player can even utilize a wireless signal to pull in streams, though your miles may vary on actual performance. As for ports, you’ll find HDMI, component, composite, Ethernet, S-Video and a Toslink optical audio jack. Initial reports are looking pretty positive from here (save for the glaring lack of HD support), but feel free to dig into the reviews below to get a better feel of what this box really has to offer.

The Criterion Collection’s long-awaited HD debut — delayed by that annoying format war — finally has a date, as well as a list of the first movies getting a definitive release in 1080p. If that wasn’t enough, try this bit on for size: They won’t charge viewers extra for the privilege. That’s right, according to the e-mail that went out to subscribers today, all Blu-ray releases will feature HD picture and sound (no word on what codecs, although we expect nothing but the best considering the company has been mastering and restoring all releases in HD for years now), all the supplemental content and a matching (unspecified) price to their standard DVD editions. The complete email and list of a dozen movies follows after the break, along with a note that The Last Emperor will also be released in its original theatrical version on both formats for $39.95, while Walkabout will be an all-new edition.

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