Archives For Roku


The GigaOm crew attended a FiOS TV briefing… where they received a demo of Verizon’s FlexView video-on-demand service running on a Roku streamer. I can’t say I’m surprised, as Verizon made their intentions to break free of the set-top box clear back at CES. In fact, they demo-ed live television on an iPad and Samsung Blu-ray player – telling me over 3 dozen consumer electronics devices were similarly hosting FiOS TV services in their labs.

Now if you look closely at the picture that the GigaOm crew snapped, you’ll notice what appears to be a Sony PS3 on the left. Interestingly, Verizon had an unidentified gaming console locked within a cabinet in Vegas also running FiOS. Throw in news of Fox and Disney content headed to a gaming console, via a television subscription partner, and I’d say mystery solved.

What excites GigaOm is the possibility of Verizon going over the top (OTT) with a nationwide on demand service. But that’s been done. What fires us up is television as an app. A path DirecTV looks to be similarly following with their RVU trials. And it’s all sorta like AllVid. But without the FCC’s intervention.

It looks as though at least some of us are being credited by Amazon for high definition video on demand rentals or purchases that may not have actually achieved sustained HD streaming. A friend and I both received this email within in the last 24 hours:

As someone who has purchased digital movies or TV shows in high-definition (HD) from Amazon Instant Video, we wanted to provide you more information about how we deliver HD content. It is our goal to provide you an uninterrupted viewing experience without any video reloading or “buffering.” To provide you uninterrupted viewing we may lower the resolution of HD videos to standard definition during streaming playback. We do this if we detect that your Internet connection to our service may not be fast enough to support HD playback. For more information on viewing HD videos from Amazon Instant Video, please visit our Help page here:

Because you may not have been able to playback one of your rentals or purchases in HD quality, we have issued you a one-time Amazon Instant Video credit of $1 for each of the HD movies and TV episodes you have purchased from us for a total amount of $23. In order to apply the credit to your Amazon Instant Video account, please click here,

Continue Reading…

Light Reading TV interviews Roku Anthony Wood Boxee Avner Ronen

One of the best things about this week’s Light Reading Cable event was Avner Ronen’s unfailingly humorous commentary. That guy could be a stand-up comedian. And in an industry where much is taken far too seriously, a little levity is appreciated.

That said, just because Avner was funny doesn’t mean he didn’t also have some status updates and pearls of wisdom to dispense. Here’s what I got from the Boxee CEO, along with Roku CEO Anthony Wood, and TiVo exec Tara Maitra. For more, check out Light Reading’s own coverage including interviews on Light Reading TV.

Boxeewants to own the user experience
Avner Ronen still insists Boxee doesn’t want to be a cable killer. Instead, the company wants to own the user experience – not the delivery, the content, or the box. To date, the company has 1.7 million users worldwide, and it plans to use its recent funding round of 16.5 million dollars to license more content, get distribution on more TVs, and most importantly, continue focusing on product development. Avner says that Boxee still doesn’t meet the babysitter test – i.e. the babysitter wouldn’t necessarily be able to watch TV upon encountering the Boxee Box for the first time. However, the company is aggressively working on moving from being a geek-only product to one that’s appealing to mainstream early-adopters.

Rokuwants to be a next-generation video network
I don’t know that I could have articulated Roku’s goal of becoming a next-gen video network before CEO Anthony Wood did yesterday. (Ah, so that’s what the little box that could wants to be when it grows up!) But it’s a noble aim, and certainly one that Roku’s made a good start on achieving. According to Wood, Roku has already shipped more than a million boxes through direct Internet sales, and that number could explode when the company hits the retail big box stores this year. Meanwhile, Wood also noted that customer surveys suggest that new Roku owners are cutting back on cable services at a more rapid rate. Last year 30% of new owners said they downgraded cable service or cut it altogether. This year that number’s already at 40%.

Other Roku notes: Wood says the company will probably have more than 1,000 channels by the end of the year, and it will launch its first international product in 2011. Continue Reading…

Digital Media Bytes

Dave Zatz —  April 22, 2011

A periodic roundup of relevant news… from our other blogs:

New Tablet Hardware: Specs and Speculation
And the mobile market rolls on. Two tablets launched last week are worth a look – for consumers and content publishers alike. RIM’s Blackberry Playbook and LG’s Android G-Slate.

Imavex Does Live Streaming to Roku and iOS
If you’ve always dreamed of having your own live Roku channel, now’s your chance. Limelight customer Imavex has launched a service with encoding partner Kulabyte for live content streaming to Roku boxes and Apple iOS devices.

Video Distribution in a Box – Limelight with mgMEDIA
What’s interesting about this news is that it’s another signal showing we’ve entered into an age of democratized distribution. Anyone, from the biggest broadcasters to the smallest start-ups, can now get content out to audiences everywhere.


The unofficial Roku DVPRemote iOS app has been updated to version 2.2. While it’s always allowed us to control our Roku media streamers via iPhone and iPod Touch, this refresh launches as an universal binary with brand spanking new iPad interface. In addition to the replicating the physical Roku remote(s), what’s so useful about DVPRemote is the QWERTY keyboard and direct channel navigation – something Roku doesn’t natively offer.

I’ve been a big fan of Phil Irey’s work on the app, but it doesn’t seem well suited for the larger iPad screen. Then again, I’m not particularly fond of any iPad “remote controls” – preferring the smaller form factor of a smartphone. Regardless, if you own both a Roku and an iOS device, DVPRemote is well worth the $2.99 merely to overcome the burden of text entry.


Without any PR fanfare, Apple TV was updated yesterday to include live MLB and NBA video streaming (to subscribers of those respective services). Additionally, Apple TV now joins the PS3 in offering 5.1 surround sound for select Netflix titles. Interestingly, Apple continues down the path of offering curated aTV channels versus launching a full fledged App Store. Regardless, it’s officially time for Roku to be scared.

Roku offers much more content and in some cases comes in even cheaper than the $99 Apple TV. Yet Apple TV is a super sleek device with shelf space at Best Buy and the Apple Store. “Apple” also obviously carries a ton of positive brand recognition. Compared to Roku… Despite moving a million units, the company/product is unfamiliar to many.

What I’d like next from any of these small media streamers is a live simulcast of pretty much any cable news network. We’ll see if any have interest in testing the over the top (OTT) waters and potentially alienating their MSO partners. Unless the cable-cos are the providers.


iOS remote week continues here at ZNF… As the very fine Roku DVPRemote ($3) was updated early this morning to version 2.1. I’ve been using the app for a few days via my Verizon iPhone (seeya, AT&T), and the two most notable new features are the full fledged gesture area and graphical channel icons.

While DVPRemote has always provided a virtual representation of Roku’s physical remote, the update provides a toggle-able gesture area (above, right) designed “to support heads-up, TV screen-facing operation.” I’m not quite sure if I’ll be putting this feature to use on a regular basis, but there’s a pretty comprehensive list of smooth interactions to choose from:

  • U = UP, D = Down, L = Left, R = Right
  • Single finger swipe U, D, L , R for U, D, L, R
  • Drag finger U, D, L, R for repeated U, D, L, R
  • Single finger tap to select OK
  • Two finger tap to select play/pause
  • Two finger swipe R for fast forward
  • Two finger swipe L for rewind
  • Two finger swipe D for instant replay
  • Two finger swipe U for info

One of my favorite features of DVPRemote is direct channel navigation. Meaning, instead of scrolling through a list of Roku channels on the television one by one, simply tap a visual representation from the iPhone to bring that content up. The first cut was textual. But DVPRemote 2.1 makes it much more visually rich by using channel banner graphics. Which also happens to be more efficient. However, for better use of space, I’d like to see a 2.2 update move to grid view of channels over the current vertical listing. Continue Reading…

Revisiting The UFC on Roku

Dave Zatz —  February 28, 2011

It’s been nearly a year since live UFC bouts landed on Roku ($60). And, I have to say, it’s a much better experience in 2011 than it was earlier in 2010. From my original coverage (of UFC 113):

Quality was good. But probably not good enough.

Roku is a company I regularly chat with and, at some point last year, they suggested I take another look at UFC as a number of presentation improvements have been made since launch. Our schedules, and coupon codes, finally lined up this weekend… and I took in UFC 127 live.

Whereas I found UFC 113’s stream inconsistant and not high enough resolution, UFC 127 was another story. Indeed, a much better story. When initially firing up the live stream, I found myself watching unpleasant smudgy SD video. But after maybe two minutes, I was automatically elevated to what looked like a HD tier. Which is where I remained for nearly the entirety of the matches. At one point, I seemed to drop back down for a minute and at another point it looked like I was hit with some dropped frames. But these minor glitches are acceptable given the 2+ hours of smooth streaming and nice looking video.

Of course, your mileage may vary. Unlike cable company pay-per-view, there are many more variables that may impact your experience by taking video over the top (OTT) – including one’s broadband package, ISP connectivity, and home network. Without a doubt, the cableco provides a safer bet. But for those who don’t have cable or want to travel with PPV events, Roku is a very solid option for UFC. (Or NHL and MLB.) Continue Reading…