Archives For Roku

vudu-roku

If Walmart’s June 10th circular is any indication, not only will the new Roku HD see a $10 price drop but it’ll also receive access to Vudu. Of course, Vudu is one of the more compelling video-on-demand services known for stellar high def streaming and cloud access to purchased (Ultraviolet) content – including disc-to-digital. Oh yeah, Vudu also happens to be owned by Walmart.

Assuming a Roku Vudu channel app comes to pass, the Roku HD tops out at 720p and I’m not certain even the 1080p-capable Roku 2 XS or XD can handle Vudu’s HDX bitrates. So while Amazon Instant will see some competition, this may not provide the best of breed HD that has set Vudu apart. One other note… While the Roku HD looks similar to the Roku 2, it’s slightly bigger to accomodate standard RCA composite (SD) outputs.

Update: Roku has informed me that the Vudu logo next to that Roku HD is a Walmart misprint. But, given Roku doesn’t comment on future initiatives, perhaps there’s still hope… someone has to bring Ultraviolet to the Roku platform, after all. Unless it’s Roku themselves.

Microsoft’s offering a free weekend of Xbox Live Gold service to entice new subscribers. While an Xbox 360 ($200 and up) nets you a solid gaming platform, to enable the most compelling online features, such as collaborative gameplay and Netflix streaming, one must subscribe to “Gold” — which retails for $60/year. As regular reader James (jcm) says, the Xbox 360 currently offers arguably the most complete video streaming experience in terms of quantity/quality of apps, polished interface, and integrated search. Yet, the annual subscription irks me and I’ve allowed my service to lapse. Heck, for the same money, one could buy a fee-free Roku LT streamer ($50).

But I went ahead and dug my Xbox 360 out of the closet to partake in the Free Gold Weekend (6/1 – 6/3) to check out the new Amazon Instant video streaming app. As an Amazon Prime member ($80/year), I’m entitled to all sorts of “free” content. Although, I have to say my primary motivation was to check out Amazon’s new Watchlist — overcoming their most significant technical shortcoming compared to say Netflix or Hulu Plus, as recently pointed out by Engadget HD’s Richard Lawler: No queue is a bizarre way to live. Continue Reading…

Slacker on Roku 1

As of today, the streaming music service Slacker is an official channel in the Roku Channel Store. If you have a Roku box and a Slacker account (you can get a basic one for free), all you have to do is add the channel from the Roku channel menu, log in with Slacker, and you’re ready to go. The service works in both the U.S. and Canada.

When the press release crossed my inbox this afternoon, I went straight to my own Roku XR, added the Slacker channel, and signed in with my account. Other than a couple of attempts at trying to remember my password, it was an easy set-up. The interface is basic, but it does the job, and I had immediate access to my custom pre-sets and playlists in addition to Slacker’s genre-based stations.

To some extent, the Roku is a silly platform for Slacker given the lack of visual elements. Continue Reading…

roku2_art

Roku just announced Roku 2 XD and XS streamers are headed to Canada. Online pre-orders start today and retail availability is expected by the end of the month. The 1080p XD runs $89.99 CAD, while the Roku 2 XS, with Wii-esque gaming remote and external USB drive support, clocks in at $109.99 CAD. Of course, plenty of “channels” are available including Netflix… but YouTube remains M.I.A.

In order to fully support Canada, Roku has implemented French language UI translations — Hence, the limited rollout of firmware version 4.6 to Roku 2 devices. I assume we’ll see widespread deployment within the next week or so, along with the requisite bug fixes and software improvements.

D-Link MovieNite Review

Dave Zatz —  April 14, 2012

D-Link unveiled a new low-end streamer this week, the MovieNite (DSM-310) – exclusively available via Wal-mart for $48. So, as I’m wont to do, I immediately picked one up (and simultaneously discovered a new Roku box).

Unlike its chief competition at this price point, MovieNite has a finite number of pre-loaded “channels” compared to Roku’s 400+ channel bazaar (which often is bizarre). And D-Link’s competently covered all the bases with Vudu (by Wal-mart) for high quality video rentals, Netflix streaming, Pandora audio, and Picasa photos. Also, D-Link bests Roku by offering YouTube.

dlink-movienite7

As to the actual experience, MovieNite can be a bit rough around the edges with a sometimes sluggish interface, perhaps exacerbated by a lack of transitions, and old school fonts. I also experienced a lock up that required pulling the power cable and another incident where the box let out a high pitched squeal as it rebooted. Having said that, the streamlined UI homescreen is suitable for novices — like my mom who’d be overwhelmed by all of Roku’s options and put off by their advertising. Further, the remote channel shortcut buttons make much more sense with a fixed lineup. Continue Reading…

roku-hd1

Just last month we reported that a new “Roku HD” SKU had hit the FCC, and today I found it nestled amongst the Roku 2 XD and XS models at Walmart. As the lowest priced Roku to grace store shelves ($60), I’m sure casual shoppers on a budget seeking to fulfill their Netflix or Pandora needs will be quite satisfied with the 720p streamer. However, folks in the know may be slightly baffled with Roku’s branding… as they’re simultaniously pitching this new “Roku HD” at the same time they’re offering the similar “Roku 2 HD” online… for the same price. Not to mention, by my count, the Roku 2 is actually fourth generation hardware. And, so, perhaps this labeling change up suggests Roku will be following in Apple’s footsteps by dropping the numerical suffix.

As we wrote last month:

the new HD (model 2500) seems more akin to the LT (model 2400) than the 2 HD (model 3000). The most obvious visible changes are a return to three distinct composite inputs – something folks are more familiar than the single 3.5mm adapter they’ve been using lately. Further, the base of the new Roku 2 HD is purple. One potential cost saving measure includes doing away with the microSD slot, which is used to store additional channels and game data, and I wouldn’t be surprised to learn they’ve similarly dropped Bluetooth, utilized by their gaming remote.

As our digital streamers have shrunk in size, placement options have increased. And I stumbled upon this clever little mount for my Apple TV.

The Innovelis Total Mount ($20) can be positioned in three ways – either bolted to your wall with included screws, Velcro strapped to a HDTV wall mount, or hung from your HDTV by clipping into the television vents. I opted for the vent mount, and I imagine most investing in this solution will do likewise. Innovelis kindly includes clips for various vent style (vertical, horizontal, circular) and I picked up a 1ft HDMI cable via ebay for $2.98, shipped.

appletv-hdtv-mount1

As you can see from the pics and video, the solution nicely cleans up the (minimal) clutter. I don’t have any overheating concerns and my Apple TV actually responds better this location as the remote IR bounces off the walls or ceiling en route to the set-top.

Based on my success with the Apple TV mount, I’ll be picking up a second… as Innovelis also produces one for the similarly shaped Roku 2. But my second 1′ HDMI cable won’t be sufficient, given the proximity of HDMI ports to preferred vent location on our larger living room television and I’ll be ordering a 1.5′ or 2′ replacement.

Save Some Money On Roku

Dave Zatz —  March 26, 2012

roku2-sale

In the market for a Roku streaming box? If so, you’ve got a few deals to choose from today… At the high end, the “flagship” Roku 2 XS is 20% off as Amazon’s Deal of the Day. Instead of $99.99, you’ll only be paying $79.99. Beyond providing access to a variety of “channels” including Netflix, Amazon Instant Video, and Pandora this model also features a Wii-esque motion control remote that enables gaming — think Angry Birds. Possibly more practical is the inclusion of USB and Ethernet jacks that its lower end brethren lack. If, by chance, Amazon sells out or you miss this opportunity, Best Buy is offering the same model for a slightly lesser $10 discount — clocking in at $89.99.

If these features don’t appeal or the Roku 2 XS is still more than you’re prepared to invest in a streamer, Woot is offering two different prior generation Roku boxes for $49.99. However, I’d urge folks to consider the similarly priced Roku LT instead – it may cap out at 720p, versus the 1080p found on several other Roku models, yet that higher definition streaming content is hard to come by. More importantly, this model features Roku’s current hardware and software platform. Meaning it’s more likely to see updates and new features… including Netflix captions and BBC iPlayer.

roku-display2

In other Roku sales and marketing news, it appears they’ve recently invested in a Best Buy endcap (pics below). It’ll be a reasonably attractive and informative advertisement once Best Buy powers on the TV, removes those “do not inventory” stickers from the streamers, and come up with a better way to secure the remotes to the display.