Archives For Roku

Is Roku Prepping DVR?

Dave Zatz —  November 3, 2016 — 12 Comments

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Roku’s announced a seriously impressive update… assuming you’re running recent, supported hardware. And, surely, the highlight of OS 7.5 is the ability to pause live OTA television on Roku Televisions. While Roku’s CEO declared the “DVR is dead” way back in 2011, the company seemingly recognizes the ongoing draw of linear programming in 2016 – but intends to “get rid of the five commercial block.” As such, pairing a Roku TV with 16GB USB thumb drive will enable a 90 minute buffer to pause television while hitting the head or intending to crash through a 60 block with 40 minutes of ad-free programming. Hopefully it’ll also allow us to scrub through the buffer to catch a bit of missed dialog or replay some dramatic event. But I’m left to wonder if they’ve invested the engineering resources to go this far might full-fledged DVR functionality also be on the roadmap? CES is just around the corner…

Other Roku OS 7.5 goodies: HDMI-CEC volume control (!) and “private listening” via smartphone. Continue Reading…

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It seems Echostar failed to dot the i’s and cross the t’s as the AirTV over-the-air network tuner, designed to pipe live OTA television into Sling TV, has been delayed… while they seek FCC approval to waive an archaic analog tuner requirement.

Pursuant to Section 1.3 of the Commission’s rules,1 EchoStar Technologies L.L.C. (“EchoStar”) respectfully requests the Media Bureau (“Bureau”) to waive the “all channels” requirement in Section 15.117(b) of the Commission’s rules to permit the importation, marketing, and sale of an Internet-enabled, set-top box (the “AirTV”) that does not include an analog over-the-air tuner.

Designed and manufactured by EchoStar for use with applications running on smartphones, tablets, and streaming devices such as Android TV, Roku, and Apple TV, the AirTV will offer consumers access to digital HD television content broadcast over-the-air from almost any broadband-enabled multimedia platform using groundbreaking place-shifting technology from Sling Media. The ability to combine over-the-air television content on devices with over-the-top functionality makes the devices a perfect, economical choice for households that have “cut the cord” but still wish to enjoy the combination of over-the-air content and pay-per-view or subscription over-the-top services without the confusion of swapping TV inputs and using multiple remote controls. All of this functionality is packaged in an attractive energy efficient form factor that can be used with a TV, monitor, or mobile device.

2016 Roku Buying Advice

Dave Zatz —  September 26, 2016 — 24 Comments

After busting out several dozen new Rokus today, I wanted to chime in with some initial purchasing advice.

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2015 Roku 3 (~$80)
If you’re not yet on the 4K bandwagon, but want a great balance of streamer performance with a tricked out remote capable of voice recognition and headphones, I actually suggest you look for a deal on last year’s Roku 3 model.

2016 Roku Streaming Stick ($50)
If a more compact form with snappier quad-core performance interest you and you don’t mind giving up the advanced remote control, the Roku Streaming Stick provide a great balance of pricing and performance. Although a new Amazon Fire TV Stick is expected any day now…

Roku Express ($30)
This will no doubt be one of the top selling stocking stuffers of 2016 and I’d absolutely recommend the Roku Express for family members new to the fold… or to gift yourself in tertiary rooms in the home. It’s dirt cheap and the interface is simplistic enough for most.

The 4K Conundrum
On the 4K front, the situation is a bit tricker and I’d suggest waiting for some real world reviews. Barring that, if you don’t have an HDR-capable set, you may as well save a few bucks with the Premiere ($80). The Premiere+ at $20 more gets you HDR, the RF headphone remote, and Ethernet, whereas the $50 more Ultra builds upon that with voice remote, optical out, and a remote finder. Even fully loaded at $130, the Roku Ultra will surely clock in less ($$$) than the 4K Apple TV that must be in the pipeline.

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If you needed a bit more confirmation of Roku’s all-new 2016 lineup, the streaming pioneer just published a support note confirming three of the five incoming models: the Premiere, Premiere+, and Ultra. They’ve also confirmed HDR will be available on a subset of devices and kindly explains why compatible 4K television set owners should care.

HDR (High Dynamic Range) improves picture quality by expanding the range of both color and contrast of any image.  In more simple terms, in any scene, details that are typically lost in the brightest and darkest areas in a scene will have more details. Wide Color Gamut goes further to expand the number of shades for each color to provide richer color depth, resulting in colors that are more true-to-life.

As to the flavor of HDR, Roku indicates they’re going with the Sony- and Samsung-backed HDR10 over Dolby Vision.

The new Roku Premiere+ and Roku Ultra models support HDR-10 standard. Your existing High Speed HDMI®cable that is working will continue to work However, you will need to connect the Roku Premiere+ and Roku Ultra into the HDMI 2.0a port for HDCP 2.2.

Unfortunately, Roku appears to contradict themselves… So, while it seems 100% likely that the Premiere+ (Roku 3-equiv) and Ultra (Roku 4-eqiv) will render HDR video, it’s not clear if the Premiere (Roku 2-quiv) will. In any event, with the publication of this support note, we must be getting real close to an official reveal.

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As revealed just a few weeks back, Roku’s finally moving on from their repetitive numerical naming conventions with all-new models… possibly corresponding to a significant software refresh (which seems to suffer from early compatibility issues). While not all details have yet been revealed, we know HDR is on the docket and a treasure trove of product photography recently landed in my mailbox to whet our appetites until the official announcement drops.

Roku Express

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Replacing the existing entry-level Roku 1 in the streaming company’s lineup are the diminutive Roku Express (3700) and Express Plus (3710)… that visually represents half a streamer. As to what’s new and the differentiation between models, I’m not entirely certain. However, it’s reasonable to assume the 2016 Roku 1 would feature a more capable processor and, if the distinction between the Premiere and Premiere Plus models (below) is any indication, perhaps the Roku Express Plus model features additional ports or that desirable headphone+voice control remote. I’m hopeful that at least one model will retain RCA composite outputs to support older televisions.

Continue Reading…

Via Cord Cutters News

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By correlating the recent Roku FCC leak against information obtained from two Canadian channels (1, 2), we now have a pretty good idea what Roku intends to do this fall with five new models… including potentially moving away from a tired, repetitive numerical naming convention and the introduction of HDR capabilities.

Roku Express

Replacing the Roku 1 in the streaming company’s lineup is the Roku Express (3700) and Express Plus (3710). As to what’s new and the differentiation between models, I’m not entirely certain. However, it’s reasonable to assume the 2016 Roku 1 would feature a more capable processor and if the distinction between the Premiere and Premiere Plus models (below) is any indication, perhaps the Roku Express Plus model features additional ports or that desirable headphone+voice control remote. I’m hopeful that at least one model will retain RCA composite outputs to support older televisions.

Continue Reading…

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One of the primary drawbacks of most streamers is a lack of live over-the-air television integration. Sure, you can switch inputs away from your television’s tuner. But wouldn’t a unified interface and guide be cool? Bonus if it comes with universal search. Roku and Terk once went down this path but failed to deliver and Amazon may be working on something. Into the current vacuum, enter: Channel Master’s new Digital TV Hub.This small, single tuner box’s secret is HDMI pass-thru, similar to Xbox One and original Google TV implementations … but with hopefully more interest and appreciation.

Continue Reading…