Roku Breaks The $50 Barrier

Dave Zatz —  October 11, 2011

Roku LT

THIS is how you bring Internet TV to the masses. In what will surely be the gadget stocking stuffer of 2011, Roku has introduced a $49.99 Roku LT model. I’ve been somewhat hard on Roku lately but, at fifty bucks (with HBO GO and YouTube on the way), all is now forgiven. In fact, anyone who subscribes to or is interested in Netflix Instant Streaming should probably pick one (or more) up once it’s available in early November.

Of course, to hit this price point, Roku had to make some concessions over their existing Roku 2 lineup. First off, the Roku LT is limited to 720p versus 1080. However, in real world usage given the quality of most streaming content, this won’t be an issue for most. Next, Bluetooth capabilities and the microSD slot have been dropped — meaning no Angry Birds for you. But I’m betting you won’t miss it with access to Netflix, Amazon Instant, Pandora, HGTV, and countless movie trailers. Lastly, this Roku is purple.

We here at ZNF put our money where our mouth is, and I’ll be picking up a few Roku LT this holiday season as gifts (for the non-geeks, without local playback needs). Nicely done, Roku.

17 responses to Roku Breaks The $50 Barrier

  1. The Roku product line is pretty crowded right now. I’m assuming the Roku 2 HD will be dropped. It’s $10 more than the LT. And while it is upgradable to gaming with the gaming remote (unlike the LT), the gaming remote itself is $30. After spending $89.99, it would probably make more sense to just get the XS for $99.99. having to pay twice for shipping (if you order the remote separately) probably eats up that difference anyway.

  2. Yeah, four SKUs is probably two too many. I’d like to see the LT and the XS only. At the very least drop the HD. I also agree with you that next to no one will upgrade to gaming – due both to cost and awareness.

    As to actually dropping the HD, it was specifically mentioned in the press release (with the others) and it’s pretty much brand new. So they may indeed keep them all around. Strange. Maybe the LT was an afterthought? Either way, if it lands in Best Buy they are going to crush it in terms of sales.

  3. References to an A5 based Apple TV have already been found in iOS 5 code. There’s huge potential there for airplay based games and other functionality which are going to eclipse roku’s whole line.

    I like roku but I think they should be adding more features, not less to stay relevant. If people really wanted a cheaper roku all they have to do is look on ebay as the older models basically will work as well as this new one.

  4. Roku doesn’t get commissions on resold ebayed hardware. ;) And most people don’t buy on ebay anyhow. $50 on the shelf in Best Buy or Walmart is HUGE for the masses. The majority of the market is price sensitive and a number are tech curious. For us, the geeky, there will always be other considerations and options. Apple is its own thing – folks who buy Apple will buy Apple, those sales have already been lost regardless of chip/processor. However, where Apple could burst this thing wide open (as we’ve discussed before) is a full fledged app store as seen on the other iOS devices. Fun times.

  5. The LT doesn’t seem to be up on their web site yet… anybody know where I can find a spec sheet?

  6. I asked for a spec sheet last night when briefed and they didn’t have one to provide. The best info is probably based on the leaked FCC docs Engadget posted a week or so ago:

    http://www.engadget.com/2011/09/27/budget-friendly-roku-lt-pops-up-at-the-fcc-as-the-2400x/

  7. I was afraid that they might have downgraded the cpu or other components, but based on the leaked FCC docs it that does not appear to be the case. And with 256MB RAM, it might even perform a little better than the Roku HD which only has 128MB.

    I want one.

  8. Hmm, $50 sure is the sweet spot. I don’t see a need for it, but when I look at that price I can’t help but contemplate it.

    I already have a laptop running Boxee hooked up to my TV’s VGA port. I also can get YouTube though the DirecTV DVR. I sometimes contemplate Apple TV for AirPlay from my iPad2, but I dunno.

    Then again $50.. like I said that is the sweet spot for sure.

  9. Don’t forget that it is a great travel device. Would have loved HBO go at the beach. Netflix rocked for small kids when traveling.

    Roku could be in a good place considering it seems like TV is trending to an app for each major channel.

    How would HBO keep you from sharing your login though?

  10. “How would HBO keep you from sharing your login though?”

    It isn’t just your login information that is looked at, but the service provider; information contained in the IP hearder. As an example, when I login to HBO GO on my iPad or ESPN on my Xbox, there is an indication that the connection is “powered by” or “provided” by Cox. If you (or someone using your login credentials) are trying to login to the service via a cable service that does not support the video service, I am pretty certain you would be out of luck.

  11. Kevin, In a similar discussion in the Roku forums, it is being stated that there is nothing to keep users from sharing access to the HBO GO service. Apparently the only things stopping users is their conscience (they would be breaking the Terms of Agreement); and the only thing that might limit access is apparently you cannot have multiple streams. While I don’t doubt what the users are saying in the Roku forums and their own experiences, I have to believe HBO will be counting on more than just people’s integrity as they expand this service.

  12. I see this as an awesome gift for the parental units packaged along with a Netflix subscription. I have the XDS and loving that there will be an HBO app since there’s no on demand available due to the Tivo.

  13. I know some states have passed laws that makes sharing login information for services like Netflix (or HBO Go) illegal. Here’s one for Tennessee for example:

    http://www.psfk.com/2011/06/tennessee-adopts-law-against-sharing-login-information-for-netflix-type-subscription-services.html

    In the case of HBO Go of course I would actually have to share my Comcast login. Which gets you access to my email (which I don’t use, but many do) and my billing info (which might get a bit dicey, but I’m sure a lot of people wouldn’t care about it).

  14. Also remember once again the tyranny of input 1. The Roku isn’t input 1. If your spouse or parents or whoever are even remotely technologically challenged you may find that they simply never get around to switching to it.

  15. I’m struck by the fact that this is the same (list) price as the TiVo wireless adapter.

  16. I wonder if the Roku LT supports Netflix captions/subtitles. (The Roku 2 does, while older Roku models don’t.)

  17. Since they share the same processor, I assume app functionality will be very similar to the Roku 2 line other than gaming.