CES 2014: Roku Goes Beyond the Box, Intros Roku TV
One of the advantages of a set-top box is that customers don’t need to upgrade their televisions to get new features, so why is Roku, one of the leading STB companies, getting into the television market?
At the International CES show, Roku announced that it’s now licensing its reference design platform and software stack to TV makers, creating a line of Roku TVs. Roku will show the first models tonight at a press event hosted by Pepcom. With TV makers rushing to create branded connected TV interfaces, Roku may have a hard time finding takers. Its inaugural partners are TCL and Hisense. Roku notes that TCL shipped nearly 12 million TVs in 2012, and that Hisense shipped 9 million in 2012.
Don’t look for Roku TVs right away, as the company says they’ll hit the market this fall in the U.S. and Canada. Sizes should range from 32- to 55-inches. Roku and its partners haven’t yet given pricing or specific model information.
The advantage of a Roku TV, the company says, is simplicity. Viewers will enjoy a unified home screen where they can choose broadcast or streamed video or music. The included remote will have only 20 buttons, half what other TV remotes have, Roku says. The TVs will support DIAL, allowing streaming from mobile devices.
Roku promises frequent software updates to deliver new features. With no connected TV interface having yet taken hold with consumers, the area is still wide open for Roku to develop.
Roku has also created a reference design for a 4K TV, and is working with Netflix to provide UHD video for owners of Roku 4K TVs.
A second version of the Streaming Stick works with more TVs and has a lower price, providing a cord-free experience to more viewers.
Roku 3 owners can now watch YouTube videos on their set-top box, and send videos from their smartphone or tablet.
Don't blame cord-cutting on us, says Roku. When channels offer TV Everywhere programming, Roku boxes provide a way to enjoy that on-demand content.
Roku's confusing product naming is simplified with the Roku 1 and 2; customers now have dedicated M-Go remote buttons.