Firmware 4.3 Update
Widespread deployment of system software 4.3 is now underway for Roku 2 boxes (XS, XD, HD, LT). The firmware rollout actually began with a subset of users a few weeks back… and given the slight bump in release versioning (.1057 versus .1051), it looks like that pilot test was useful in identifying one or two elements that still needed some work. Roku’s blog posting on the milestone itemizes a variety of improvements to a core streaming service (HLS) and Netflix, such as speed and a/v sync. However, the biggest change is international support. Whereas Roku 2 XS boxes acquired via Amazon’s UK or Ireland outposts have been running 4.3 since launch, boxes acquired in the US (but used overseas) have been unable to access regionally restricted channels such as the BBC’s iPlayer without asking Roku for a manual firmware update. So the broad 4.3 rollout should put that particular issue to rest. However, I hear 4.6 is already in testing… and furthers international support.
Another Roku Hits The FCC
Another Roku 2 HD has hit the FCC. Although it was first discovered this week, the docs were published last month and originally submitted back in January. Given the existing Roku 2 HD ($60) is out of stock, a minor refresh isn’t entirely out of the question. Although, the new HD (model 2500) seems more akin to the LT (model 2400) than the HD (model 3000). The most obvious visible changes are a return to three distinct composite inputs – something folks are more familiar than the single 3.5mm adapter they’ve been using lately. Further, the base of the new Roku 2 HD is purple. One potential cost saving measure includes doing away with the micrSD slot, which is used to store additional channels and game data, and I wouldn’t be surprised to learn they’ve similarly dropped Bluetooth, utilized by their gaming remote.
Gifting Roku Can Be Messy
As we reported earlier this week, while prepping my second Roku gift of 2012, giving their streaming boxes could be cleaner. The shipping label and credit card requirement for new owners can be somewhat offputting and the out-of-box experience remains inferior to the one provided by their top competitor in Apple TV.
YouTube on Roku. Via Facebook.
Lastly, many Roku customers (and potential customers) continue to pine for an official YouTube channel. And, while one has yet to materialize, we’ve documented a method to load up YouTube videos into Facebook for Roku playback.