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CES '16: Roku Announces UHD Reference Design for TV Partners

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Set-top box-maker Roku doesn't have a new product to show for this year's CES, but it has something almost as good: a reference design for Roku HDR TVs.

In another sign that HDR (high dynamic range) will be just as important to the future of video as 4K, Roku is getting behind the technology and aiding its partners in building UHD-compliant televisions. The spec includes support for Dolby Vision, Dolby's HDR technology, as well as the HDR-10 standard. It doesn't include Ultra HD Premium support, and Roku isn't a member of the UHD Alliance.

Roku doesn't yet create a set-top box that supports HDR, but that's not a surprise. A year ago, the company released a 4K TV reference design several months before it debuted the 4K-enabled Roku 4. A Roku representative suggested that HDR support could be added to existing Roku boxes with a firmware upgrade.

Roku's TV OS is one of the few that's broken through with consumers and become a desirable feature for connected TVs. The company notes that it now has an eight percent market share for connected TVs, and one million homes had Roku TVs at the end of 2015. Partners will release almost 60 Roku TV models in 2016.

One of the reasons Roku sets are doing well is that they're budget-conscious. That will continue with upcoming HDR models.

"The way we developed our reference design is for very low cost implementation, and that allows our manufacturing partners to deliver an affordable solution to customers," said Lloyd Klarke, Roku's director of product management.

Klarke noes that TV makers are driving the demand for HDR support.

"The biggest demand is from the content partners. HDR from the consumer perspective is still growing. Consumers know 4K more know, but they're getting to know HDR very quickly," Klarke said.

Yesterday at a CES press conference, TCL announced that it will launch the first Roku 4K TV sets this spring, and that it will soon begin selling Roku TVs in Mexico.

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