Hands On Roku Voice Search

Dave Zatz —  April 5, 2015 — 7 Comments

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…

amazon-youtube-tivo

TiVo app pruning continues… As previously reported, Amazon Instant downloads were to be dropped. Well, as it turns out, TiVo Series 2 and Series 3 owners will also be losing YouTube access come April 16th:

All good things must come to an end, right? Well, that’s the case here. As of April 16, 2015, you will no longer be able to purchase or download content from Amazon with TiVo Series2 and TiVo HD/Series3 DVRs. You will, however, be able to continue watching the movies and TV episodes already purchased and downloaded in your Now Playing list. TiVo HD/Series3 users, you will no longer be able to access videos through the YouTube app. We apologize for any inconvenience this may cause

Beyond Amazon and YouTube, TiVo has also killed their podcast download feature on all platforms: “Sorry, Video Podcasts are no longer available. We thank you for using this service in the past.” I guess they prefer you now stream that content via Hotlist on Premiere or Roamio.

It’s not quite forced obsolescence, but it still stings when companies abandon aging platforms and perhaps under-utilized services. But, hey, get a deal on something new?

We’ve set aside smarter, stronger and zippier TiVo Roamio DVRs (which include the Amazon YouTube apps) at an extraordinary upgrade price just for you. These offers are so good they will make you forget this minor inconvenience ever happened. To hear all about it, contact the TiVo Call Center today at 877-BUY-TIVO.

(Thanks DK and Roger! Sorry for your loss.)

CableCARD Successor Functionality & Implementation Battle Rages

jk76pl

I love tracking Amazon’s FCC filing patterns almost as much as I love their technology. Whereas most companies file under their own corporate entity, with the requisite confidentiality requests, or time filings with press or consumer announcements to prevent inadvertent discoveries, Amazon tends to create interestingly named and staffed LLCs around the country with VOIP numbers (that are never answered). So while I can’t say for certain this is the next gizmo out of Amazon’s Lab126, I can tell you it fits their pattern. With that in mind, let me introduce you to Scituate LLC, housed at a Regus office rental facility in Arizona, staffed by a Raven Brady, with a Google Voice number. And what they’ve filed is the mysterious single band JK76PL 802.11 b/g/n “Wireless Device” — let your imagination go crazy. Could this be Amazon’s next Echo or Fire TV product? A home automation hub or Fire tablet dock? Something for their warehouses? Or someone else’s product all together?

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…

Massive Amazon Fire TV Stick Update Detailed