Netflix is calling this a "soft launch" since it is only rolling out such a small number of videos for HD streaming. The move mostly serves to stake a claim in the HD streaming market as opposed to being a full offering.
Contrary to what others are reporting, HD streaming will be available on all streaming devices eventually. That means the Roku, LG, and Samsung boxes will all be able to stream these HD movies movies at some point after the feature is available on the Xbox 360. The PC- and Mac-based versions of Netflix, will not, however, be able to stream HD immediately. In addition, streaming in HD will require a large amount of bandwidth. Netflix estimates the requirement being in the 8-10 Mbps range.
We already knew that Netflix streaming was going to be included in Microsoft's "New Xbox Experience," launching for the Xbox 360 on November 19, but Netflix had a little surprise in store for us today. In addition to its catalog of over 12,000 titles that will be available for near-DVD quality streaming, Netflix will stream 300 titles in HD to the Xbox 360.
This is the beginning of the dream that we talked about when Netflix gave its subscribers unlimited watching time, back in January. Even though 300 titles is a very small portion of Netflix's entire catalog, at some point, we can assume that Netflix will offer most of its catalog for streaming at some point and even further down the road, most of its catalog in HD. While browser-based streaming is great, with great set-top boxes, like the $100 Roku and now the Xbox 360, Netflix is slowly but surely invading living rooms across the country and making it easier to stream its content.
In order to take advantage of Netflix streaming on the Xbox 360, you must be an Xbox Live Gold member. Again, Netflix HD streaming will go live on the New Xbox Experience, which launches on November 19.