NetFlix should seriously be advertising the heck out of this: You can watch new episodes of Heroes via their "Watch Instantly" service, the same week they air. No DVR or advance planning required. Hooray for convenience! (The bad news is coming. Wait for it.)
The service had piss-poor selection when it launched earlier this year, but it's looking much nicer now. Unfortunately, and here's the bad news, the other problems still exist: you have to use Windows XP and IE6, deal with Microsoft's crappy DRM, and you have to stream the episodes--no downloading for later offline viewing. So Web 1.0. Are they gonna get a sock puppet mascot too?
But it's still marginally better than Amazon Unbox, which forces you to install additional software to manage their own proprietary DRM. Also, you don't have to pay-per-view for each show or movie on NetFlix; you get as many hours of viewing per month as the number of dollars you pay for your subscription.
In my case, that's seventeen hours, and much more than my actual free time per month. But it's nice to know that I could go online, fire up a browser, and watch Pan's Labyrinth or Time Bandits whenever I want. It's not perfect, but I've got to admit, it's getting better.