Archives For Roku

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Those who follow me on Twitter already knew something was in the works… and, today, Roku comes clean with their new streaming Stick (3600). As you’d might expect, it’s more powerful — featuring a quad-core processor and dual-band MIMO wireles packed in an even smaller HDMI dongle. Also along for the ride is the new 7.1 OS, which enables “private listening” from Roku’s mobile app. Instead of routing audio through your television, it’s streamed to your smartphone and can be listened to over wireless or Bluetooth headphones, so as to not disturb  others and as previously seen via the Roku 3 remote control. While currently a Roku Stick exclusive, I’m hopeful the 2015 Roku 2 will be treated to Roku’s most unique feature in the not-so-distant future.

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As to other software goodies to look forward to, Roku’s updated API now allows app developers to ingest content via digital tuner — think Roku TV. So that creates all sorts of interesting possibilities. And I’m still holding out for a USB-connected tuner for full-on boxes like the Roku 4

Via Cordcutters News, we learn that Roku, Inc has been replacing defective streaming hardware:

Thank you for your recent purchase of a Roku 4, the newest addition to our line of streaming players. We are getting in touch after discovering a manufacturing glitch with a small number of Roku 4 players. We identified your Roku 4 player as potentially among this group, and as a result would like to replace it to avoid any potential issues that would impact your use and enjoyment.

While Roku hasn’t indicated what exactly the “glitch” is, and Cordcutter News hasn’t speculated, I assume it’s heat-related given multiple reports of units with noisy fans (and at least one that melted). As the recall has been going on for several months, with new outreach this week, I suspect Roku was unable or unwilling to pull the impacted batch from shelves — so, as boxes come online, the company contacts registered owners to arrange swap. By comparison, Amazon’s 4k Fire TV must run cooler, as it was engineered to dissipate heat without requiring a fan.

Roku has announced plans to expand their hardware licensing offerings, beyond simply rebranded streamers and streaming televisions, with a “hybrid” box that integrates a television tuner alongside over-the-top apps. Further, new software customization will be made available to pay TV service partners “enabling them to surface content directly on the home screen or give recommendations to their customers.”

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UK-based Sky TV has been leasing a pretty standard, but white, Roku box that taps into their NOW IPTV service the last few years. As such, they will be the first to deploy this new hybrid set-top, that looks a lot like the Roku 4 hotplate, with a region-specific over-the-air tuner. Roku suggests other tuner options are on the table dependent upon partners, but it’s not clear if a retail Roku STB might ever ship with a tuner to provide live OTA television. Compare and contrast to TiVo’s more heavy handed deeply integrated provider offerings – which probably says more about partner co technology than technical approach. In any event, with another $45 million in funding, Roku’s definitely working on something to keep Apple and Amazon at bay… and it sure would be ironic if the founder of ReplayTV, aka Roku’s CEO, once again gets into the DVR business.

Deal of the Day: $30 off Apple TV

Dave Zatz —  December 26, 2015

While it may be a few years before we once again “watch TV”, my new blessed reality clearly hasn’t slowed me from acquiring gadgets. So, although I missed out on Target’s limited Black Friday inventory, I just ordered Apple TV on sale from… RadioShack’s zombie corpse. This $120 deal drops $30 off MSRP and bundles an HDMI cable of unknown length and provenance.

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Of course, what sets the new Apple TV apart from its predecessors is a full-fledged and open (vs curated) app store along with a premium touch sensitive remote that also sports Siri voice control. Apple offers both 32GB and 64GB models, but the extra space doesn’t yet seem useful and the 32GB is probably suitable for most… for now. The Roku 2 (2015) is still the streamer I most frequently recommend given the broad app selection, simple but efficient interface, at a very attractive price point ($60-70). However, until or unless Roku migrates their platform to Android, Apple TV and Amazon Fire TV offerings will potentially be richer and more capable.

(Thanks Bryan A!)

Giving or getting a Roku this Christmas? The streaming pioneer has lined up an impressive array of free trials. Some of the more compelling offerings:

  • Hulu – 3 months free
  • HBO Now – 1 month free
  • Netflix – 1 month free
  • Showtime – 1 month free
  • CinemaNow – 3 movie rentals

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Some of the promos, like Netflix can be applied to (certain) existing accounts, whereas Hulu and HBO require new identities. But while the terms may slightly vary, the bottom line is you’re going to need to link up a Roku account with your credit card and remember to cancel any subscription before the trial is up. Unless you’re so enamored with the service you choose to carry on — which, of course, is their hope.

Having recently outfitted both our kitchen and guest bedroom with 32″ Roku TVs, I took advantage of the Hulu trial. Despite the commercial interruption, we thoroughly enjoyed the first season of Manhattan and are currently bingeing the Hulu-original Casual. We have until 1/16 to activate any of the others before the promotion period expires… and it sounds like I’ll want to catch up on new seasons of Showtime’s Homeland and The Affair.

As they’re wont to do, Black Friday promotional materials have started trickling out. And, as you might expect, there are a number of streaming hardware deals. One of the more interesting ones has nothing to do with price. Although, that too, is compelling.

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For the holidays, Roku is releasing (yet another) model in the “Roku SE” — based on the hardware ID (2710SE), we can assume this is a rebadged Roku 1 (2710R). So it will feature significantly lesser processing power than the 2015 Roku 2 and Roku 3… but supports RCA connections for older, lower def televisions. At $25, it’s not a bad deal at all. Although, for the same money, if one has HDMI, we’d direct you to the Amazon Fire TV Stick sale.

(Thanks Patrick!)

Roku TV Deals at Jet

Dave Zatz —  October 27, 2015

New e-commerce site Jet.com is attempting to attract customers with a generous 20% off coupon code – and I took the bait.

I assume there are many good deals to be had, but one in particular caught my eye. I’ve been looking to retire an awful 22″ Vizio television in favor of something a bit more modern. And, while I’d prefer 1080p, this 32″ TCL Roku TV ran me less than $160 – no taxes, no shipping fees. Which is pretty crazy when you stop to think that a Roku Stick alone runs about $50. (For something a bit beefier, one pal went with the 1080p 40″ Roku TV at $240.)

jet-coupon

Jet doesn’t actually stock some (or any?) of its inventory, with orders fulfilled by other retailers. In my case, the television was shipped by Electronics Express and will arrive tomorrow.

Anyone else see some good finds on Jet we should take advantage of. And I mean that quite literally. ;)

Roku 4, For Real This Time

Dave Zatz —  October 6, 2015

After weeks of leaks, the Roku 4 finally breaks cover. As expected, new 4K and 801.11ac capabilities receive top billing, Also, not too shabby is the additional of optical output, unlike the majority of its streaming competition. And the mystery of that top port or sensor is finally solved. It’s neither. But, rather, a remote finder button used in conjunction with a small speaker grill on the back of an updated remote. To contain the upgraded tech, including a new quad core processor, the iconic Roku puck is no more — replaced with something that resembles a hotplate.

roku4-box

On the app side, Roku boasts more 4K content than others — beyond the requisite Amazon and Netflix, the HDCP 2.2 platform will also bring Vudu and M-Go at launch. But these app updates could end up replicating what one finds natively on their 4K televisions. And why it pains me that Roku didn’t sneak an OTA tuner or HDMI pass-thru into the larger chassis this time around. They’ve got a pleasant and efficient user interface (that already includes television support) and could keep non-DVR folks pinned to Input 1. Perhaps they disagree on the value of unifying that OTA linear and over-the-top content, like a TiVo or Xbox. Or maybe they’ve got some sort of non-compete in place with their television partners. Another missed opportunity is cleaning up that remote. Roku’s top tier streamer breaks the $100 threshold for the first time, clocking in at $130 – $30 more than the 4k Fire TV. I’d think this flagship model could easily do away with the spam buttons. And one reason why I may never upgrade from my 2014 Roku 3.

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