Archives For Roku

roku-youtube

After Google had Roku remove their unlicensed YouTube channel and indications over a year ago that a new channel was under development, CEO Anthony Wood tells analyst Michael Wolf that YouTube on Roku “isn’t far away.” By the same token, he mentions that Google now requires partners to integrate their YouTube HTML app and Roku has found performance on their current “cheap” chips “unacceptable.” Unfortunately, Continue Reading…

Aereo Headed to Smart TVs

Mari Silbey —  December 6, 2012

Video Nuze VideoSchmooze 2012 Colin Dixon and Chet Kanojia

At yesterday’s VideoSchmooze conference in New York, Aereo CEO Chet Kanojia told the audience that his company will soon release more applications for the 10-foot television experience. Aereo is planning to launch apps for a variety of smart TVs shortly, and for adjunct TV devices, including the Roku. Aereo has a private channel for the Roku today, but will release a more complete experience for the device in the near future. Kanojia also noted that “conceptually” games consoles make a lot of sense for Aereo too.

To date, Aereo is still only available in New York City, and it continues to fight for its legal right to exist. Broadcasters want to shut Aereo down because the company gets around retransmission fees by assigning a tiny antenna to each customer and transcoding over-the-air signals for delivery over IP. So far the courts haven’t forced Aereo to close its doors, but the legal battle has only just begun.

Meanwhile, Aereo’s technology is sophisticated enough that I’m still theorizing the company has a back-up plan if its current business model doesn’t survive. Aereo also has an advantage in that its technology costs are minimal. Kanojia threw out one stat yesterday that drove home that point. He said that the cost of transcoding a single stream of video a couple of years ago was around $6,000. Today, that number is in the single digits.

netgear-neotv-max2

Another week, another streamer? A year after introducing their Roku competitor, Netgear expands the NeoTV streaming line with “Pro” and “Max” models. And, as we’re wont to do, we picked up Netgear’s latest. Similar in form factor to that aforementioned Roku, I was prepared to dislike the NeoTV MAX ($60-70) given it’s sluggish response and pixelated fonts… as seen from many sub $100 streamers. However, a recent update has sped up the UI to mostly acceptable levels and Netgear offers a few compelling features versus the competing Apple TV and Roku devices.

The most obvious enhancement is the bundled QWERTY remote… which looks positively svelte next to Gigantor the Vizio Costar equivalent. However, it’s obnoxiously encumbered by “the bullshit buttons” — presumably paid placements, by the likes of Best Buy’s CinemaNow, that you’re bound to hit at inopportune times.

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Also on the value-add list is integrated Intel WiDi reception capabilities. Much like Apple’s Airplay, WiDi allows you to beam content from specific Intel-powered laptops to your television screen. Related, unlike Apple TV or Roku, NeoTV can also receive content via DLNA network resources.

On the appearance front, Netgear’s interface exceeds Roku’s simplistic approach. Although many of the NeoTV apps are really just aggregated feeds powered by Flingo. But, hey, at least they provide YouTube — still missing from Roku devices, along with a promised UI revision.

netgear-neotv-max1

Thus far, we’d say the 1080p Netgear NeoTV MAX is a solid and promising streaming player at a competitive price given the broad channel selection, including Vudu and Netflix, QWERTY remote, and integrated Ethernet (as we’re somewhat disappointed that Netgear chose to forgo dual band 802.11n wireless capabilities). Yet, while the space continues to expand, we find ourselves somewhat uninspired given overlapping features and lack of innovation compared to say the mobile industry.

roku-remote

Hot on the heels of the Roku pico projector announcement, the Roku Streaming Stick ($99) is now available for order and a revised RF Roku remote passed through the FCC today. This accessory looks quite similar to the Bluetooth gaming remote bundled with the Roku 2 XS streaming player, yet appears to feature two minor differences. Instead of dual status lights under the A/B buttons, Roku Streaming Stick marketing material indicates there may be a single LED. Eh, whatev? More interesting are the two new side rocker buttons. While it’s not entirely clear what these are, (programmable) volume control would be welcome. Especially if the remote is made available for purchase to existing Roku 2 owners.

Roku Streaming Stick Nears Release

Dave Zatz —  September 24, 2012

roku-stick-label

Despite being announced three times (1, 2, 3), the Roku Streaming Stick isn’t yet available… however, release nears, as the Stick just passed through the FCC and it seems we’re still on track for an October launch. Roku’s goal with the Stick is to bring “smart TV” capabilities to perhaps dumb sets, without actually requiring a box. But, while the Roku Stick may be a compelling concept, it’s an idea whose time hasn’t come. It’s MHL-compliant, integrating with a host television (or Blu-ray player) via a shared HDMI port. Unfortunately, there’s only a small number of devices that currently utilize MHL and I suspect a large number of customers will be quite disappointed to learn their new Christmas gadget is incompatible with their television – despite select partner hardware to be branded “Roku Ready.” Further, at the same price or more than a traditional streaming box, the $99 Roku Stick really only offers a reduction in clutter. And while that often motivates me, I’ve moved my Roku LT out of sight by mounting it onto my television. Having said that, I was pleased to learn the Roku Streaming Stick will provide dual band wireless capabilities — featuring 5GHz, in addition to 2.4GHz. Not to mention there will be two models, the 3420 in black and the 3400 in Roku purple.

Amid new Roku apps and the launch of the Roku Streaming Stick, company CEO Anthony Wood also let slip this week that Roku “has been in talks” with companies about introducing new lower-cost, broadband-only TV services. Wood said at a recent industry event that he expects a new virtual MSO to pop up in the next 12 months. Such a company would offer a limited channel line-up delivered entirely over the Internet, and would target consumers unwilling to shell out major cash for cable TV.

We’ve heard people forecast the rise of virtual MSOs before, but the timing was never right. Today, however, consumers are well accustomed to watching TV online, and both content and service providers have had time to experiment with different models of Internet delivery. We’re also already seeing companies like Aereo and Skitter test out hybrid television models, suggesting that there’s a market for cheaper TV service.

It’s important to note, though, that Wood doesn’t expect some new start-up to jumpstart the virtual MSO market. Says Wood: “A lot of this is about getting access to the content, and that requires a lot of money and experience to structure it well.” That means we’re looking at an industry incumbent to be the source of a new online TV service. And it also means that any future venture is only going to move forward in a mode of extreme caution. Incumbents want to protect their existing revenue sources. Any new service will operate with that premise at its core.

roku-beam-images

Roku has updated their free Android and iPhone apps with “Play on Roku” — a new feature to beam local photos and music to your television screen via Roku media streamers ($50 and up). I took the photo sharing feature a quick spin under iOS 6 and it works as advertised. In fact, I’d say it’s nicely polished for a v1, including the ability to launch album slideshows using various transitions and speed options. Although I did experience one crash and the app seems to continuously communicate, even when returning to the typical remote control functionality. Exclusive to the Android app (for now?), users can “change the channel” via voice. While there are indications that Roku intends to continue expanding their second screen initiative, no word yet on Apple AirPlay-esque video streaming or screen sharing.