When I was a lad in Pennsylvania, renting a movie meant driving to Scranton Video (this is pre-Blockbuster, boys and girls) and crossing your fingers in hopes that something you actually want to watch will be among the four dozen VHS tapes they had in stock. Of course, the previous customer didn't rewind the tape before returning it.
A few years later, Blockbuster provided a much larger collection of unwound movies I didn't want to see. Eventually, Netflix took the inconvenient travel out of the equation (except for us small-town folk with PO Boxes) by sending movies through the mail. And there was much rejoicing.
Today, services like On Demand and Apple TV have eliminated the taxing walk to your mailbox by delivering movies directly to your television. Customers can rent, download and watch a hit movie faster than you can say "sedentary lifestyle." And Netflix wants a piece of the (in)action.
Neflix and Roku have produced the Netflix Player, a $99US set top box that allows Netflix customers to stream any of the 10,000 available movies and TV shows. It connects via HDMI, composite, or component, and allows users to browse the library and make selections with the remote.
At one hundred bucks, it's less expensive than an Apple TV, but it also does a lot less -- no iTunes or iPhoto synchronization, current trailers, etc. It's not a real threat to the Apple TV, but evidence that the set top box is here to say.