The clever remote control audio out capabilities introduced with the Roku 3 will be making their way to the Roku Streaming Stick according to today’s FCC filing. Despite new MHL-compatible partners, we can’t imagine Streaming Stick sales have been significant… as it’s often cheaper and always conceptually simpler to bring “Smart TV” capabilities to a HDTV via a set-top. And we suspect Roku would be better served by integrating their platform directly into the television, as Vudu once attempted, should they find any takers. (Thanks Brad!)
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The solution is comprised of Elemental Live video processing systems used to adapt traditional MPEG-2 broadcast channels to multi-bitrate Apple HTTP Live Streaming (HLS). The eight local live broadcast channels are packaged into an authenticated channel on the Roku platform called EZVideo which is then delivered by Canby over a secure broadband connection to Canby subscribers who have Roku players.
Canby’s upcoming Roku solution is in addition to their more traditional IPTV packages (and STBs) and is obviously limited in the content provided (compared to say a full-fledged STB or even the TWC Roku app). But it could be an economical and compelling service for those with poor OTA reception. And with Aereo available in only two (major metro) markets, EZVideo would be the only game in town for many. Continue Reading…
After a March tease, Roku 2 streaming players are finally entitled to the updated interface (that ships with the Roku 3). While Roku has staggered the rollout over a two-week window, you can manually trigger an update via Settings > Software update > Check now… as I did. While I’ve only had the new UI a few days, I’m glad to see the modernized look & feel largely retains the speed and simplicity of the original interface. Further, while Roku has displayed advertising for some time and the new primary unit is significantly larger, the visual integration is improved over the prior layout. Unfortunately, Roku still doesn’t provide the sophistication of on-screen widgets as the WDTV Play offers – but at least you can change the color of your theme?
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Despite the sudden glut of video streaming services, the joint Redbox-Verizon initiative presses on. And, according to GigaOm, up next for the $8/month service will be Google TV and Roku clients. Given the Android set-top’s limited penetration, having failed to land on the “majority” of televisions, and upcoming retirement of Flash I’m somewhat surprised Redbox Instant has prioritized gTV ahead of 5 million Rokus… but perhaps it’s a simple(r) matter of porting their existing Android app over developing for a new platform (that I know has caused significant challenges for another manufacturer in this space). At the moment, Amazon Prime Instant meets most of our all-you-can-eat streaming needs and I’m not aware of many Redbox Instant subscribers in my circle. Perhaps, if they build it, the customers will come.
As we’d previously reported, the new Roku 3 has indeed launched with a refreshed UI and audio-capable remote control. The 3 takes over the Roku 2 XS‘s top slot in their lineup, running a competitive $100. In fact, the Roku 2 XS is no longer present in the company’s model comparison chart. Like its predecessor, the Roku 3 remote incorporates Hillcrest Labs Wii-esque motion control capabilities for gaming purposes – such as Angry Birds Space. But, the ways in which the remote communicate are new to Roku’s set-top box line. In place of Bluetooth, Roku is now using WiFi Direct – a similar and possibly ascendent technology that we’ve been tracking and potentially one piece of the Roku Miracast puzzle. Another remote innovation is the inclusion of an audio jacks (and pair of bundled Roku-purple earbuds) for “private listening.” The way I understand it, inserting a headset (theirs or yours) into the remote will redirect audio output from television to the handheld, with volume controlled via rocker buttons. It’s an innovative feature, but probably not one that would be appreciated in our household – especially given the duplicity of Roku and tablet apps/channels.
On the hardware front, as Roku’s high-end model, they’ve decided to do away with analog and standard def connectivity options… leaving a sole HDMI jack to handle both video and audio transmission duties. And, speaking of transmission, both Ethernet and dual-band 802.11n are provided for connectivity. We’re told this is the most powerful Roku ever… although the company didn’t get into component details, so we’ll circle back once someone cracks one open. Aesthetically, the Roku 3 is certainly the most beautiful one yet and they’ve come such a long way from the original single-channel Netflix box sourced from off-the-shelf parts. While we can’t say for certain, we suspect that Bould Design was once again tapped to move the product forward. But, beyond visual design, this Roku model is also somewhat heavier to prevent HDMI cables from pulling it across the television stand. And, perhaps, to inspire a higher quality feel. Continue Reading…
As promised back at CES, Time Warner Cable’s newest set-top box is a Roku… and the free “Channel”, comprised of up to 300 channels, is now available to all currently shipping Roku devices – which start a mere $50. As you might expect, access to TWC on Roku requires a traditional cable subscription – and supposedly only works in regions served by TWC. However, unlike Comcast Xfinity or Verizon FiOS TV on the Xbox 360, a TWC broadband account is not required.
Don Wegeng took a look at TWC TV on Roku, and while his initial reaction was disappointment due the lack of On Demand content (compared to the iOS app), he seems pleased overall with the speed of navigating the available live channels and the quality of HD content – once the higher res stream snaps in after a few seconds. However, as you can see from his video walk-thru (below), SD content is rendered with both letterboxing and pillarboxing. Yuck. But, all in all, not a bad first cut. And surely better than every other cable company’s non-existant Roku offering. Continue Reading…
Sadly, I’ve got no imagery to share (at this time). But we believe our intel to be rock solid… and have learned the incoming Roku 3 remote control includes a headphone jack that “makes it easy for anyone to enjoy a private listening experience.” While I contemplate if that innovative feature is actually useful, let me also share that the RF remote retains motion control capabilities for a Wii-esque experience. For use with the pre-loaded Angry Birds Space… and whatever else suits your fancy from the Channel Store. Speaking of which, we do have confirmation that the UI has been refreshed – featuring new Search functionality front and center. On the hardware front, the Roku 3 sports 1080p and dual-band wireless, in addition to ethernet support. And hopefully this “fast” and “powerful” new hardware provides additional capabilities such as Miracast and additional codec support for that USB port. Stay tuned…
UPDATE: And the Roku 3 is now official!
Roku’s been updating their website this week… and just accidentally spilled the beans on the Roku 3, given this new support site. We presume the new model is the same 4200x Engadget turned up via the FCC a few weeks back. Of course, beyond a name and model number, we’re most interested in new functionality. And perhaps the Roku 3 sports the beefier processing power required to run YouTube and overdue UI refresh. Further, we may be looking at a Broadcom chip that will also power Miracast. Regardless, we can’t imagine the wait will be long now… given the support rep volunteered March 6th availability.
UPDATE: We’ve got new intel, posted here – covering both Roku 3 hardware and software enhancements.
UPDATE 2: The Roku 3 is now here!