Archives For Roku

Hands On Roku Voice Search

Dave Zatz —  April 5, 2015

The 2015 Roku 3 ships with a new “Enhanced Remote” that includes a new magnifying glass button and microphone to power voice search, à la Amazon Fire TV and even Comcast Xfinity. When the magnifier is pressed, the lower third of the Roku screen indicates the remote is listening for movie, TV show, actor, or director – tying into Roku’s top-notch universal search across disparate video content providers.

In very brief testing, the voice recognition has been accurate – moreso than my Fire TV even. But this may depend on your personal enunciation and search patterns. Speaking of search, the results leave a little to be desired as new release movies featured in Roku Feed are not currently indexed. I’d think these two new services should work together… and perhaps it’s just a matter of time. Regardless, this is a nice-to-have that surely beats “typing” via a virtual keyboard or even iPhone app. And we expect it’ll be a requisite feature given Siri’s presumed inclusion via an Apple TV update. Related, we can imagine Roku making voice search available to more models and customers via update to their iPhone and Android remote control apps. Until then, expect to see this remote also sold as an optional accessory for the 2015 Roku 2 and 2013/2014 Roku 3 models. Continue Reading…

new-rokus

The new 2015 Roku 2 (4210) and Roku 3 (4230) streamers we unveiled last week have begun arriving at retailers. Indeed, my local best Best Buy has both on the shelf. For the timing being, these units retain their existing US pricing – clocking in at $70 and $100, respectively. However, with the recent Apple TV price reduction and presumed summer updates, it’s safe to assume we’ll see periodic sales if not an outright drop in the coming months.

For 2015, we see power parity between the Roku 2 and Roku 3… as both feature the same hardware, including a slightly revised enclosure that pretty much maintains the same footprint as the prior editions. Beyond that exterior though, we believe the guts are identical same this time around. Whereas the 2013 Roku 3 was significantly faster and featured newer, better apps than the Roku 2, it looks like we’re on even footing this year. Which brings up the difference in the two models… Continue Reading…

roku3-bestbuy

While I generally only trawl the FCC for new, original filings, Janko Roettgers of GigaOm recently turned up a pair of revised Roku boxes. And those models have just popped up on Zones and Best Buy Canada.

I imagine the prices are off, given prerelease timing and exchange rates, and I wouldn’t recommend pre-ordering from these guys given our limited information. But expected availability of April 13th or so, according to Best Buy, seems quite possible. As to the hardware itself, we’re looking at a refreshed Roku 2 (4210) and Roku 3 (4230)… Unfortunately, very little can be gleaned from the “permissive change” FCC filings beyond the guts of the new 2 will much more closely resemble a 3. Fortunately, the premature Best Buy listings provide greater detail…

Continue Reading…

roku-tv-home

By way of USA Today and Rob Pegoraro, we’re reminded that while Roku TV provides a whole lot of good, the over-the-top experience remains compromised due to deep-seated fear and loathing amongst some content providers. Specifically, Disney has prohibited access to the WatchESPN app and a raft of Disney-branded channels available … on traditional Roku boxes. And, of course, Roku is clearly complicit as they cozy up to these guys while segregating their hardware offerings. The sad irony is that anti-consumer policies like these leave a number of folks wondering why they bother paying for cable when they may not be able to watch their programming how or where they want it. Perhaps the successor to CableCARD will provide a more sensible path forward. Or maybe all that excluded Disney content will simply find its way to Roku via Bittorrent and Plex.

Two Weeks With Roku TV

Dave Zatz —  January 12, 2015

I wasn’t the only member of the Zatz family that picked up a new television this season. And, unlike my Vizio experience, Mom has been quite pleased with the two TCL Roku TVs I chose for her. Of course, her expectations and tolerances in this realm are far more, uh, relaxed than most of our regulars – so context is indeed important.

Upon moving from Florida to Virginia in 2013, I had Mom unload her truly crappy living room television while hanging onto her 32″ bedroom Vizio with an understanding that we’d come up with a more modern solution once she furnished her NoVA condo. As the furnishing have now (mostly) arrived, it was time to identify new televisions for the bedroom and the living room, with the Vizio earmarked for the den/office. I originally thought a pair of 42″ HDTVs might do the trick and figured she’d benefit from the same manufacturer, remote, and interface. With that in mind, my original thought for practicality was to pick up whatever Vizio model Costco had on the floor. She’d had good luck with her original Vizio and Costco includes a stellar warranty and technical support.

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Best Buy To Launch Roku TV

Dave Zatz —  January 4, 2015

Roku-TV-Insignia

As with CES 2014, Roku’s 2015 Vegas outreach will skew heavily towards their TV partnerships. Last year, Roku introduced TCL and Hisense televisions with the Roku experience built right in (versus questionably successful “Roku Ready” MHL-like stick accessorizing). Indeed, I found the end product so compelling that I ordered two 40″ sets for Mom (review to come). And, apparently, I’m not the only one enamored with Roku’s boxless design as two new manufacturers have joined the fray. While Haier televisions aren’t so interesting, Best Buy is also unveiling a line of Insignia Roku TV models… which we fully expect will outsell and outperform the largely forgotten TiVo TV.

Continue Reading…

roku-google-play

After the debacle that was Google TV and the aborted Nexus Q sideshow, Google bounced back nicely with the inexpensive and effective $35 Chromecast streaming stick. Not content to leave well enough alone, Android TV was announced at Google I/O and the Asus Nexus Player recently hit the market ahead of a revised, second generation Chromecast. And, as these two new products ramp up while project management fails to present a clear vision, Google has hedged their bets… by launching their Google Play video store on Roku. Given Logitech’s abandonment of Google TV and ASUS’ prior streaming efforts, Amazon Fire TV is the “Android TV” I’d go with or that aforementioned Roku for those deep into Google’s ecosystem. While Amazon similarly provides its video service to competing devices, including TiVo, the retailer’s business model and approach is better defined.

roku-screen-mirroring-settings

By way of several support notes, perhaps posted a bit early, we learn that Roku is set to unveil mobile device screen mirroring. It’s not clear if these are the Miracast capabilities originally predicted by GigaOm in 2013 or something entirely different, but we do know the feature is currently limited to Roku 3 and Roku Stick (HDMI) hardware and it’s suggested both the Android or Windows Phone streaming device and Roku reside on the same network for best performance. Beyond straight up screen mirroring, Firefox Video Casting is also revealed and is more Chromecast (DIAL) in presentation. Desktop mirroring is referenced too, but a mechanism to pass the content has yet to be described… also, noticeably absent is iOS. I expect we’ll learn more shortly! Continue Reading…