Jul 24 2013

News - Google Announces $35 Chromecast....Roku & AppleTV Competition

Google had quite the day after some underwhelming earnings this week. The internet giant announced a new streaming stick called "Chromecast" that comes in at $35--and with this it also includes 3 months of Netflix streaming service for free, so basically the device costs $11. Basically it's a competitor to Apple's Airplay, and allows you to stream content from your PC, Tablet or phone to your TV. Details are still coming up, but this sounds like a major player.

Let's talk first about what the Chromecast does (and does not) do. Just insert it into a spare HDMI port on your television, and wirelessly call up whatever's on your phone, tablet, or laptop from your cloud and directly to your television. Clean, simple, effective. It's currently compatible with Netflix, YouTube, Google Play content and, most importantly, your desktop Chrome browser. It outputs at 1080p. It's like AirPlay, if AirPlay also worked on PCs and Android phones.



Mar 06 2013

News - Roku 3 Arrives with Faster Processor, New UI, & Headphones

Roku makes one of the most compelling Over the Top (OTT) streamers available today, offering oodles of content options, a clean, responsive UI, and (my favorite feature) universal search. Of course for those who want to use more than a few of the 750+ channels the current UI doesn't scale well, so now we have another reason to like the diminutive device with a new display scheme available on the new, faster, $99 Roku 3. Fortunately, older devices will also get the update, but they'll wait until April for the privilege.

PR and a pic of the updated UI after the click.

Oct 30 2012

News - Roku Introduces Roku Search

Roku is pushing out an update for current-generation Roku LT, Roku HD, and Roku 2 boxes that will bring a new cross-app search capability. Roku Search isn't quite universal search as it is limited to Hulu Plus, Netflix, Amazon Instant Video, HBO GO, VUDU and Crackle, but it will allow users to search for movies, TV shows, actors, and directors across the supported channels. Select the Roku Search channel, run a search, and Roku will display a list of the channels that offer content that match the search term for the user to select from. Text can be inputted with an on-screen keyboard or via the soft keyboard on a remote control app. Given the breadth of content that Roku now offers, cross-app search is arguably a bit overdue. There are some notable Roku channels absent from Roku Search, such as EPIX and CrunchyRoll, so it seems a safe bet that Roku Search will continue to expand its reach. It will also be interesting to see if Roku can expand the functionality to IPTV channels such as DISHWorld.

 Roku Search

Roku Search makes it a snap to find movies, TV shows, actors and directors across Netflix, Amazon Instant Video, Hulu Plus, Crackle, VUDU and HBO GO. When you search for a title, Roku Search shows you where it’s available on the Roku platform. Simply select a channel and Roku Search will take you straight to your desired movie or show. 

Roku Blog

Oct 06 2012

News - Roku and 3M Team Up on Streaming Projector for Streaming Stick

3M Streaming Projector

One of the more intriguing media streamers to come out this year is the Roku Streaming Stick. The Roku Streaming Stick is a media streamer designed to be plugged into the MHL port on your TV or other device, and indeed we have already seen some Insignia TVs sporting the Roku Ready logo that Roku has come up with for certified devices, but the goal has always been to expand the Roku Streaming Stick into other consumer electronics. The first official non-TV device is a projector from 3M, the 3M Streaming Projector. The 3M Streaming Projector will start shipping in a couple of weeks for $299 and includes the Roku Streaming Stick. Only 2" tall and less than 4.5" in length and width, the Streaming Stick actually looks pretty big next to this projector. 3M is selling the Streaming Projector as a portable family movie device, touting the Roku Streaming Stick's Wi-FI and the projector's 2 hour and 45 minute battery as the solution for bringing epic movie watching to any room or backyard. Of course, with a lumens rating of only 60W, you better make sure that room or yard get very dark.

The Roku Streaming Stick plugs into an MHL port (looks like HDMI but actually powers and commands the Streaming Stick) on Roku Ready® consumer electronics devices, bringing Roku to a range of new products. Today, I’m pleased to unveil the first product of its kind–the 3M Streaming Projector powered by the Roku Streaming Stick.

Roku Blog

Sep 20 2012

News - Roku Queues Up Three, Announcing VUDU Support, Streaming Stick Availiability and App Update

Roku Streaming Stick

I've been looking forward to Roku's Streaming Stick since they first mentioned it back at CES. Of course the specifics around pricing and how long we'd have to wait were unknown, but today that changed a little with Roku announcing that the MHL enabled streamer would be available "soon" at $99. The lack of a clear when is a little disappointing, but for those who like instant gratification VUDU has finally made it's way to the platform - HUZZAH! - and they've updated the mobile application. Who knew that today would be media streamer day Smile, full PRs after the click.

UPDATE: Not sure why this wasn't included in the PR, but the Streaming Stick will support 1080p24 (24p) from VUDU. Unfortunately the current generation boxes don't Sad.

Jul 26 2012

News - Roku Dropping Channels with International Content in Favor of DISHWorld

Part of the appeal of the Roku media streamers over the years has been the openness of the platform. At any given time, there have been dozens of unofficial apps or channels that could be added to one's Roku, and even among the officially supported channels, there were always plenty of off-beat and incredibly niche offerings to explore. The Roku ecosystem has also offered up a surprising amount of international content for those users interested in looking beyond American shores for their entertainment. Unfortunately, those days seem to have come to an end. There may still be plenty of off-beat channels to choose from, but few, if any, that offer international content. 

DISHWorld on Roku

Roku has apparently pulled all or most of the international content channels from their system as part of a deal that the company signed with DISH back in May to bring that company's DISHWorld service to the Roku platform. DISHWorld is DISH's IPTV system for bringing international content to domestic customers, and Roku is the set top box that makes it all possible. Roku has defended the move by pointing out that DISHWorld offers more content than all of the removed channels combined and that DISH properly licenses all of the content thay access, ensuring that foreign content distributors are reimbursed appropriately, a guarantee that not all of the previous Roku channel developers could make. However, given that DISHWorld is a subscription service that starts at $19.99 a month, it is a bit difficult to shake the feeling that the real incentive here might DISH's comparatively deep pockets.

The first live TV feeds on Roku were foreign broadcast transmissions, and numerous companies have used Roku exclusively to reach expat audiences within the U.S. But for many developers, all of this came to a halt this week when Roku removed 25 channels with foreign language content, effectively shutting down the entire international section of its channel store.


Apr 16 2012

News - Roku Launches in Canada

Roku Canda

In the build-up to Netflix's launch in the UK and Ireland, Roku announced that they had their eye on expanding in Netflix's wake. Roku managed to follow close on Netflix's heels into the UK, but today Roku has announced that they have also followed up on their plans to come to Canada. Roku will be launching their assault on the Great White North with two models, the Roku 2 XD and the Roku 2 XS. The Roku 2 XD and Roku 2 XS represent the top-end models in Roku's lineup and will be available for CAD 89.99 and CAD 109.99 respectively. Both models offer 1080p streaming, Netflix subtitle support, and built-in 802.11 b/g/n support. The XS also adds Ethernet and USB ports, and bundles in the game-friendly remote with motion control that is only available to the XD as an optional accessory. Roku is offering pre-orders through select online retailers with an anticipated ship date of April 30th. At launch, Roku plans on offering more than 100 content channels with the promise of more to come.

At launch in Canada, Roku features more than 100 entertainment channels including movies and TV shows from Netflix and Crackle; live and on-demand sports from the National Hockey League and Major League Baseball; music from Rdio and TuneIn Radio; photos and videos from Facebook and Flickr; news and weather from the Wall Street Journal and CNBC – plus casual games like Angry Birds, Wheel of Fortune and Jeopardy. Roku expects to broaden its channel selection in Canada at a pace similar to its growth in the U.S. – now at more than 450 channels.

Roku Press Release


Online savings are often available for most electronics.


Apr 12 2012

News - New Roku HD Sneaks Onto Store Shelves

Roku has quietly begun shipping a new model, the Roku HD. We can often look at the specs and price of a new device, and see where it fits in the manufacturer's line-up, but the Roku HD seems to defy traditional attempts at pigeonholing. The Roku HD is priced the same as the Roku 2 HD at $59.99, but drops the expandable memory slot and Bluetooth support for Roku's remote control/game controller accessory. This would seem to make the Roku HD more similar to the less expensive Roku LT, except the new model adds discrete composite audio and video outputs, making it unique among current generation Roku devices. There is room in the lineup to give the Roku 2 HD a $10 price bump, but the product comparison table on Roku's website is already getting pretty crowded with four devices. It seems more likely that a Roku model is on its way out. Will Roku game channels soon be limited to 1080p devices?

Roku HD

As the lowest priced Roku to grace store shelves ($60), I’m sure casual shoppers on a budget seeking to fulfill their Netflix or Pandora needs will be quite satisfied with the 720p streamer. However, folks in the know may be slightly baffled with Roku’s branding… as they’re simultaniously pitching this new “Roku HD” at the same time they’re offering the similar “Roku 2HD” online… for the same price.

Zatz Not Funny

Mar 28 2012

News - Plex Roku Channel Available Officially

Plex has offered a private channel for the Roku family of streamers for quite awhile, but the Plex team has announced that the official Plex Roku Channel in finally available in the Roku Channel Store. It's not just a change in status either. Roku for Plex has also been updated with a number of new features. The new version includes a revamped UI with a grid layout similar to the recently updated Plex for Google TV UI. There is also full myPlex support to simplify setup, audio and photo support, and Direct Play to avoid transcoding when possible. Roku boxes have a tendency to be a bit picky about accepting file encoding, so I wonder how often turning on Direct Play will prove to be hindrance rather than an asset

Plex for Roku

They have a line of lovely little devices, starting at just fifty bucks, capable of 720p on the low end, and 1080p and Angry Birds on the high end. They also have a great SDK which allows third parties to write Roku Channels, and we’re extremely happy to let you know that as of today, the Plex Roku Channel is now officially available in the Roku Channel Store.

Plex Blog

Mar 10 2012

News - Roku Looking to Raise $50M for Push into International Markets

Roku took its first tentative steps beyond the US by following Netflix into the UK and Ireland, and the company has also indicated that Canada is on the horizon for this year. The response must have been positive as the company is reportedly looking to raise $50 million dollars to make a deeper push into Europe and to begin moving into Asia. Assuming the company can raise the funds, Roku will be entering a potentially dangerous new phase in its business. There are huge opportunities for the companies that establish themselves as dominant providers of over-the-top streaming devices, a market that is only going to become more valuable as media companies turn to streaming as their primary distribution channel, but Roku faces some stiff competition. There are the myriad smaller companies such as Boxee and Xtreamer, but more importantly, there are the game console and smart TV manufacturers that are already tapped into the mainstream audience looking to cut companies like Roku out of the picture by building their own OTT infrastructure. I think Roku makes a great little device, but do they have what it takes to straddle multiple continents?

Roku Earth

Internet TV box service Roku is prepared to take on a big and high-risk new investment to support its international ambitions.

It is aiming to raise up to $50 million by this summer to go to the UK, France, Germany and the Far East - more than the $32.5 million it had raised to date since 2008, the firm tells Reuters.


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