Later this month, Roku boxes will receive new Disney channels. And, unlike their first attempt, this is way more compelling than marketing fluff – featuring full length programming and “live TV”. However, access is limited to cable and satellite providers (with agreements in place), so the new offerings won’t expand Roku’s cord cutting appeal. WatchESPN has come a loooong way from the ESPN 3 Xbox exclusive years ago and this A-list offering nicely rounds out Roku’s sporting access while competing well with Apple TV.
Archives For Roku
Three new streamers will be joining the Roku 3 for the 2013 holiday season… as Roku continues to confuse consumers by reusing product names (despite differing features and channel support). The new Roku LT, Roku 1, and Roku 2 sport the updated look introduced with the R3 and we’ll continue to recommend the $50 model to digital media n00bs over the $35 Google Chromecast (and others) given its ease of use and broad content offerings. For ZNF readers, we’d direct folks to the Roku 2 or Roku 3 — both of which feature dual-band wireless and remote with clever headphone jack. While the Roku 3 remote also includes the Hillcrest-powered motion control for gaming, we rarely-to-never take advantage of it (and are banking on better gaming from Apple TV and Sony). However, the sprightliness of the Roku 3’s beefier processor might alone be worth the $20 premium. Beyond the silicon, the Roku 3 is the only model to offer Ethernet support and USB connectivity for accessing personal content.
The Roku Android app has just been updated to stream video from phone to television, as recently introduced on the iPhone. As you might expect, we’re talking unencrypted content and there’s probably some limitations in terms of codec and container. Although I’d assume anything shot natively on your ‘droid would work. Initial support is limited to:
Samsung Galaxy SIII, Samsung Galaxy S4, Nexus 4, HTC One, and Nexus 7 (2012 model).
Simple.TV and Silicon Dust are joining forces for the second iteration of Simple.TV, due later this year, by leveraging their respective software/services and hardware skills. In speaking with Simple CEO Mark Ely last week, the companies appear to be addressing most of my gen 1 concerns.
First, the updated hardware will feature a new Zenverge transcoder with ultimately twice the horsepower of the original model and jumps from a single ATSC tuner to way-more-practical dual tuning capabilities… all in a more compact package (with more accessible coax connector). Unfortunately, it’s still a bring-your-own-harddrive sort of DVR – for those that choose to leverage that feature. Perhaps it ultimately works out OK as customers can choose the appropriate amount of storage for their particular situation? But it does add a certain amount of complexity to the solution and my distaste of clutter is well known ’round these parts.
On the software front, v2 of Simple.TV looks to provide a tighter experience, with a cleaned up and more efficient UI. Along with v2, Simple intends to expand video playback this fall beyond the web browser, iOS, and Roku to Android and Chromecast, with DLNA, NAS, and cloud storage all possibilities on the the roadmap — their long term intent is to become something of a Swiss Army knife of HD OTA, streaming television content to and via the devices of your choosing, including gaming consoles. (I’m also told original Simple.TV owners will receive the new, improved software.)
We expect to learn more regarding hardware and service pricing in the next month or so ahead of launch and I’m looking forward to checking out Simple.TV v2. Cord cutting is a reality and I believe there’s a market for advanced over-the-air, antenna-based television solutions such as these with the pool of contenders expanding nicely – including the new 4-tuner TiVo Roamio and cloud-based OTA DVR Aereo, with Echostar/ChannelMaster in the pipeline.
No one was more excited than I to see that the ACC Digital Network had created a Roku channel. And my excitement lasted just long enough to download the channel and fire up highlights of former Duke basketball player Mike Dunleavy. Unfortunately, that’s where the fun ended.
Where to start? With the video quality? Horrific. How about the overall selection of clips? Lame. And then there’s my favorite: the advertising.
You see, the ACC Digital Network has partnered with a company called adRise, which describes itself as “the largest content distribution and advertising monetization engine for streaming and connected TV devices.” The “monetization engine” throws up an advertisement before every single clip available on the ACC channel. It doesn’t matter if the clip is 30 seconds, or if you exited out of a clip and are trying to return to resume play. There’s an ad. And not just any ad, but the same ad, over and over and over. (Thanks, Progressive lady.)
It’s 2013. Streaming video companies should know by now not to over-saturate content with pre-roll ads, or to stock only a single commercial in the ad inventory. That’s not monetization. It’s scaring your audience away.
In good news, however, the ACC network says it plans to expand from the Roku to other streaming boxes and smart TV platforms. I can’t wait.
While I’ve been quite satisfied with my TiVo Mini as a DVR extender, it shipped crippled in terms of third-party streaming apps. And, after 6 months with no movement, I picked up another Roku today. Perhaps ironically, Sam Biller just discovered TiVo has (accidentally?) published Netflix and Amazon Instant icons to our Minis. Netflix appears to be fully functional, although possibly crashy dependent on output resolution, and feels significantly faster than my Premiere XL4/Elite — although just about every other app platform is. Unfortunately, Amazon is met with a V301 error which suggests the backend isn’t active for us non-beta testers and it’s not yet known if we’ll be treated to an entirely new Amazon implementation (to include Prime streaming). But both apps are clearly on their way and this lines up with news of a scheduled September TiVo Mini update to include dynamic tuner allocation.