May 30, 2008 4:03 pm

InventHelp’s Invention Girl is a film buff in my precious free time, so I love when I come home from a hard day of work at InventHelp to find a new Netflix movie in the mailbox. Imagine my surprise when I found out that this little pleasure may soon be a thing of the past.

Thanks to a revamped business plan designed to keep them relevant in an ever-changing entertainment world, Netflix has taken its first step toward weaning itself from its DVD-by-mail service. Part of the logic behind this change is that consumers are getting used to instant entertainment gratification. With services like Comcast’s OnDemand, entertainment is just a remote-control click away anytime, day or night. Waiting a day for the mail to arrive is just too slow these days!

And just how does Netflix plan to deliver the latest movies without the mail? With a little help from a set-top box that lets customers stream internet video directly onto the television. While the internet streaming option has been around for more than a year, it’s rarely used because most Netflix’s subscribers don’t want to watch movies on their PCs. InventHelp’s Invention Girl is one of them – I didn’t buy a plasma TV for nothing! (Although I’ll admit I’ve once or twice used my office PC at InventHelp to watch a few clips!)

This set-top box, priced around $99 and manufactured by Roku, is hooked up to the TV like a DVD player. Internet connection can either be plugged into the box, or the box can pick up a wireless signal. Other electronics companies are working on the streaming option as well. LG Electronics plans into include the technology in its Blu-ray player due out later this year (put InventHelp’s Invention Girl on the wait list for this one!)

Netflix is pumping millions of dollars into this investment to beef up movie choices available on the streaming service, which now offers only about 10% of Netflix’s massive library. Although the streaming service is not more profitable (it offers unlimited use while the DVD-by-mail prices vary based on the number of DVDs rented at once), Netflix is encouraging users to adopt the streaming option.

Maybe it’s just me, but I’ll be sorry when the only things in the mailbox are credit-card offers and sale flyers!

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