Roku Refreshes Low End Of Streamer Lineup

Dave Zatz —  September 25, 2013 — 18 Comments

roku-lineup

Three new streamers will be joining the Roku 3 for the 2013 holiday season… as Roku continues to confuse consumers by reusing product names (despite differing features and channel support). The new Roku LT, Roku 1, and Roku 2 sport the updated look introduced with the R3 and we’ll continue to recommend the $50 model to digital media n00bs over the $35 Google Chromecast (and others) given its ease of use and broad content offerings. For ZNF readers, we’d direct folks to the Roku 2 or Roku 3 — both of which feature dual-band wireless and remote with clever headphone jack. While the Roku 3 remote also includes the Hillcrest-powered motion control for gaming, we rarely-to-never take advantage of it (and are banking on better gaming from Apple TV and Sony). However, the sprightliness of the Roku 3′s beefier processor might alone be worth the $20 premium. Beyond the silicon, the Roku 3 is the only model to offer Ethernet support and USB connectivity for accessing personal content.

18 responses to Roku Refreshes Low End Of Streamer Lineup

  1. But none of these new Roku’s will support the new Netflix delivery system. A missed opportunity.

  2. So now I can get a new Roku2 to go with my old Roku 2 models and my new Roku 3 model I got earlier this year.

    Do all of them use the same processor as the ROku 3?

  3. According to the chart, the Roku 3 has a 5x more powerful processor – so it’s entirely possible the new models run the same processors as the devices they replace. At the very least, those processors aren’t nearly as potent as the Roku 3. And I really dig the snappy R3 experience. (Not to mention the first “Roku 2″ was really the third of fourth Roku platform…)

  4. Still no Youtube, sadly.

    There’s a workaround ( http://utmostsolutions.github.io/myvideobuzz/ ) but it isn’t full-featured and is likely to break whenever Google makes a change. I want REAL youtube.

    I don’t use the roku 3′s remote at all. It doesn’t control volume, so it’s a half-measure at best. I actually purchased a cheap used harmony off eBay so I could program my URC remote with the roku IR codes.

  5. What is the story of Roku not having Youtube, anyway?

    Seems very strange to me.

  6. It’s what these things are always about… $$$… licensing and ad playback. Google had a perfectly fine unofficial YouTube app shut down by Roku a few years back. Maybe they’ll work it out one day.

  7. The story, as I understand it is this. Google has two tiers of youtube support. The premiere tier is Android and iOS. TiVo was grandfathered in.

    For everything else, Google wants you to use their HTML5-based player and will force you to shutdown any unofficial players that don’t use HTML5. That’s what happened to windows phone and roku. All roku boxes cheaper than the roku3 lack the hardware to handle the HTML5 client.

    Windows phones have plenty of juice to use the HTML5 client, but obviously it offers an inferior user experience to a custom native app, so MS tried to roll their own. It was a beautiful app, but it didn’t use HTML5 so Google shut it down.

  8. That’s part of the story as it currently sits, but it goes further back than that… YouTube used to allow anyone to link in via an open API/SDK. However, that was later pulled in favor of preferred partnerships and licensing fees and with an emphasis now on integrating the advertising and perhaps a technical framework (HTML5) to support that.

  9. That API still exists, it’s what “unofficial” youtube apps like XBMC and Plex’s youtube addons, the myvideobuzz roku channel I linked to above, the windows phone app, and the dozens of aftermarket youtube downloading programs and apps use. Google just doesn’t want you to use it.

    It’s not entirely due to their advertising, either. MS was willing to show Google’s ads and disable downloading in their youtube app, but Google didn’t allow that. Google wants complete control over the youtube experience, and would prefer that you have no access to youtube at all over losing that control.

  10. “The story, as I understand it is this. Google has two tiers of youtube support. The premiere tier is Android and iOS. TiVo was grandfathered in.”

    Yup. Exactamundo.

    “That’s part of the story as it currently sits, but it goes further back than that… YouTube used to allow anyone to link in via an open API/SDK. However, that was later pulled in favor of preferred partnerships and licensing fees and with an emphasis now on integrating the advertising and perhaps a technical framework (HTML5) to support that.”

    Well, let’s look closer at that “integrating the advertising and perhaps a technical framework (HTML5) to support that” wording, cuz that’s the “non-premiere tier”, as Rodalpho would put it. (It’s actually, the “non-premier tier”. TiVo confused our spelling cuz they aptly named the S4.)

    And it seems as if no one can roll out a “non-premier tier” with an adequate UX. Now, is that because everyone is incompetent, or because Google isn’t providing the tools to allow a “non-premier tier” with an adequate UX? Obviously can’t say for sure, but Occam’s Razor would point in one particular direction…

  11. “M-Go is preinstalled on Roku’s new boxes, and the updated interface will be rolled out to current-generation Roku devices in October.”

    An even slower UX force installed on my box very soon. Yay! As a consumer, I absolutely love that business model! Amazon streamer box, I’m waitin’ on ya’…

  12. “And it seems as if no one can roll out a “non-premier tier” with an adequate UX. “

    Which I don’t understand, from the POV of Google. I’d think they’d actively want ubiquity, as long as you displayed their ads where they want them…

  13. Well, it’s been some time since I’ve communicated with folks in the know regarding YouTube integration into whatever box/service… but beyond advertising there was talk of substantial licensing fees. Not sure if or how that’s still in play, but do agree Google seems to want to retain a certain level of control. The Windows Phone stuff has been disheartening.

  14. “beyond advertising there was talk of substantial licensing fees. Not sure if or how that’s still in play, but do agree Google seems to want to retain a certain level of control.”

    That’s what I don’t get. From the POV of Mountain View, don’t they want ubiquity, as long as they get to serve ads as they see fit? Isn’t that their whole gig?

    I’m getting confused about Mountain View’s DNA these days. What’s the point of restricting ubiquity if they’re not using it as a weapon against Cupertino?

    I don’t understand their thinking. Why fight over pennies when world-domination is at stake…

  15. License fees? Google wants to charge you to show their ads? That’s totally loony!

  16. “License fees? Google wants to charge you to show their ads? That’s totally loony!”

    Hulu Plus does it. Pretty much every “non-premium” cable channel does it.

    But I don’t think if we really know if license fees are holding up the “non-premier tier”, or if Mountain View has some kind of “strategic strategy” that is responsible. Doesn’t make sense to me either way, but both are possibilities.

  17. As I said, not sure if my intel is outdated and I suspect the primary driving force is a desire to control the platform. Related, one of the companies I chit chat with has had a real hard time getting Netflix to the table. And this isn’t some boostrapped startup. The content distributors want control and certain assurances or even (viewership, sales) guarantees…

  18. Can’t really compare it to hulu+, because they aren’t charging end-users. They’re trying to charge MS to show their ads on windows phones. That’s loony. They sure as heck don’t charge Apple– Apple wouldn’t pay.

    Control and assurances, certainly. That’s different from an outright license fee.

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