Archives For Roku

roku-streaming-stick-2016

The newly released and highly regarded 2016 edition of the Roku Streaming Stick is already on sale for a mere $40. Boasting superior performance, compared to both its predecessor and the competing Amazon Fire TV Stick, this streamer represents an excellent value and is the best all-around streamer for most.

Of course, one size doesn’t fit all. And, for example, those needing Kodi would go for the full-fledged Fire TV, while others deep into Apple’s ecosystem would naturally gravitate to the iTunes-sporting, Airplay-mirroring Apple TV. While not my cup of tea, Chromecast remains an inexpensive option for those willing to control their television experience via a smartphone. Perhaps we’ll learn more about its future capabilities and Android TV this week from Google I/O.

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Those who follow me on Twitter already knew something was in the works… and, today, Roku comes clean with their new streaming Stick (3600). As you’d might expect, it’s more powerful — featuring a quad-core processor and dual-band MIMO wireles packed in an even smaller HDMI dongle. Also along for the ride is the new 7.1 OS, which enables “private listening” from Roku’s mobile app. Instead of routing audio through your television, it’s streamed to your smartphone and can be listened to over wireless or Bluetooth headphones, so as to not disturb  others and as previously seen via the Roku 3 remote control. While currently a Roku Stick exclusive, I’m hopeful the 2015 Roku 2 will be treated to Roku’s most unique feature in the not-so-distant future.

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As to other software goodies to look forward to, Roku’s updated API now allows app developers to ingest content via digital tuner — think Roku TV. So that creates all sorts of interesting possibilities. And I’m still holding out for a USB-connected tuner for full-on boxes like the Roku 4

Via Cordcutters News, we learn that Roku, Inc has been replacing defective streaming hardware:

Thank you for your recent purchase of a Roku 4, the newest addition to our line of streaming players. We are getting in touch after discovering a manufacturing glitch with a small number of Roku 4 players. We identified your Roku 4 player as potentially among this group, and as a result would like to replace it to avoid any potential issues that would impact your use and enjoyment.

While Roku hasn’t indicated what exactly the “glitch” is, and Cordcutter News hasn’t speculated, I assume it’s heat-related given multiple reports of units with noisy fans (and at least one that melted). As the recall has been going on for several months, with new outreach this week, I suspect Roku was unable or unwilling to pull the impacted batch from shelves — so, as boxes come online, the company contacts registered owners to arrange swap. By comparison, Amazon’s 4k Fire TV must run cooler, as it was engineered to dissipate heat without requiring a fan.

Roku has announced plans to expand their hardware licensing offerings, beyond simply rebranded streamers and streaming televisions, with a “hybrid” box that integrates a television tuner alongside over-the-top apps. Further, new software customization will be made available to pay TV service partners “enabling them to surface content directly on the home screen or give recommendations to their customers.”

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UK-based Sky TV has been leasing a pretty standard, but white, Roku box that taps into their NOW IPTV service the last few years. As such, they will be the first to deploy this new hybrid set-top, that looks a lot like the Roku 4 hotplate, with a region-specific over-the-air tuner. Roku suggests other tuner options are on the table dependent upon partners, but it’s not clear if a retail Roku STB might ever ship with a tuner to provide live OTA television. Compare and contrast to TiVo’s more heavy handed deeply integrated provider offerings – which probably says more about partner co technology than technical approach. In any event, with another $45 million in funding, Roku’s definitely working on something to keep Apple and Amazon at bay… and it sure would be ironic if the founder of ReplayTV, aka Roku’s CEO, once again gets into the DVR business.

Deal of the Day: $30 off Apple TV

Dave Zatz —  December 26, 2015

While it may be a few years before we once again “watch TV”, my new blessed reality clearly hasn’t slowed me from acquiring gadgets. So, although I missed out on Target’s limited Black Friday inventory, I just ordered Apple TV on sale from… RadioShack’s zombie corpse. This $120 deal drops $30 off MSRP and bundles an HDMI cable of unknown length and provenance.

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Of course, what sets the new Apple TV apart from its predecessors is a full-fledged and open (vs curated) app store along with a premium touch sensitive remote that also sports Siri voice control. Apple offers both 32GB and 64GB models, but the extra space doesn’t yet seem useful and the 32GB is probably suitable for most… for now. The Roku 2 (2015) is still the streamer I most frequently recommend given the broad app selection, simple but efficient interface, at a very attractive price point ($60-70). However, until or unless Roku migrates their platform to Android, Apple TV and Amazon Fire TV offerings will potentially be richer and more capable.

(Thanks Bryan A!)

Giving or getting a Roku this Christmas? The streaming pioneer has lined up an impressive array of free trials. Some of the more compelling offerings:

  • Hulu – 3 months free
  • HBO Now – 1 month free
  • Netflix – 1 month free
  • Showtime – 1 month free
  • CinemaNow – 3 movie rentals

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Some of the promos, like Netflix can be applied to (certain) existing accounts, whereas Hulu and HBO require new identities. But while the terms may slightly vary, the bottom line is you’re going to need to link up a Roku account with your credit card and remember to cancel any subscription before the trial is up. Unless you’re so enamored with the service you choose to carry on — which, of course, is their hope.

Having recently outfitted both our kitchen and guest bedroom with 32″ Roku TVs, I took advantage of the Hulu trial. Despite the commercial interruption, we thoroughly enjoyed the first season of Manhattan and are currently bingeing the Hulu-original Casual. We have until 1/16 to activate any of the others before the promotion period expires… and it sounds like I’ll want to catch up on new seasons of Showtime’s Homeland and The Affair.

As they’re wont to do, Black Friday promotional materials have started trickling out. And, as you might expect, there are a number of streaming hardware deals. One of the more interesting ones has nothing to do with price. Although, that too, is compelling.

roku-se

For the holidays, Roku is releasing (yet another) model in the “Roku SE” — based on the hardware ID (2710SE), we can assume this is a rebadged Roku 1 (2710R). So it will feature significantly lesser processing power than the 2015 Roku 2 and Roku 3… but supports RCA connections for older, lower def televisions. At $25, it’s not a bad deal at all. Although, for the same money, if one has HDMI, we’d direct you to the Amazon Fire TV Stick sale.

(Thanks Patrick!)

Roku TV Deals at Jet

Dave Zatz —  October 27, 2015

New e-commerce site Jet.com is attempting to attract customers with a generous 20% off coupon code – and I took the bait.

I assume there are many good deals to be had, but one in particular caught my eye. I’ve been looking to retire an awful 22″ Vizio television in favor of something a bit more modern. And, while I’d prefer 1080p, this 32″ TCL Roku TV ran me less than $160 – no taxes, no shipping fees. Which is pretty crazy when you stop to think that a Roku Stick alone runs about $50. (For something a bit beefier, one pal went with the 1080p 40″ Roku TV at $240.)

jet-coupon

Jet doesn’t actually stock some (or any?) of its inventory, with orders fulfilled by other retailers. In my case, the television was shipped by Electronics Express and will arrive tomorrow.

Anyone else see some good finds on Jet we should take advantage of. And I mean that quite literally. ;)