Why thank you, FCC. Once again our government regulatory agency has kindly spilled the beans on an upcoming gadget. Meet the Roku 2. Granted, we already knew Roku had new hardware in the pipeline… given recent allusions in support of their upcoming casual gaming app initiative (starting with Angry Birds).
Having owned the original Roku media streamer, and iterations from two successive generations, I’m not quite certain how they came up with Roku “2” — perhaps it’s that new gaming angle. And perhaps these new models will also be mated with a refreshed interface. Regardless, as with the prior two pre-holiday revs, Roku intends to offer a three box lineup (HD, XD, XS). Which is probably one too many. But, marketing aside, the spec sheet included with the filing (below) offers up some interesting details. Whereas wireless network connectivity was a differentiator amongst previous Roku models, all members of the new line feature the same chip. However, the two lower-end models do away with Ethernet. Not a problem for me, as I only attempt Ethernet when I’m on the road.
More interesting is the inclusion of Bluetooth within all three boxes. And this is presumably how Roku will offer some sort of accessory that serves double duty as a traditional remote control and game pad. The two lower end models ship with an IR remote, while the high end unit ships with probably that unidentified RF remote (and will hopefully show up in its own FCC filing). But given the capabilities of the units that do without, I assume it’ll be an optional add-on – at least for that middle tier box destined for retail. (TiVo should be taking notes here.) Also, while we’re talking remotes, even the standard model has been redesigned as it’s classified as an 11 button remote, versus the existing 12 or 8.
Of course, what we don’t know is Roku 2 pricing or timing other than earlier corporate mentions of “summer.”
Update: Looks like one of the Roku beta testers took the FCC leak as permission to snap and share some shots of their box. So I’ve swiped one of the pics submitted to Engadget and run it above. Without the awful “HD” model identifier scored across the top, you might mistake the new Roku line for an AppleTV given the new plastic polish and rounded corners. However, the device does appear a bit taller. Also, we’ve confirmed my remote redesign theory – it’s looks a bit more ergonomic and carries along Roku’s now signature purple accent. Unfortunately, it looks as if they’re dropping the most compelling instant replay button. Lastly, what’s up with this microSD card? Yuck. Is that the best Roku can do to overcome memory and storage issues?