Archives For Roku

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Roku just announced Roku 2 XD and XS streamers are headed to Canada. Online pre-orders start today and retail availability is expected by the end of the month. The 1080p XD runs $89.99 CAD, while the Roku 2 XS, with Wii-esque gaming remote and external USB drive support, clocks in at $109.99 CAD. Of course, plenty of “channels” are available including Netflix… but YouTube remains M.I.A.

In order to fully support Canada, Roku has implemented French language UI translations — Hence, the limited rollout of firmware version 4.6 to Roku 2 devices. I assume we’ll see widespread deployment within the next week or so, along with the requisite bug fixes and software improvements.

D-Link MovieNite Review

Dave Zatz —  April 14, 2012 — 15 Comments

D-Link unveiled a new low-end streamer this week, the MovieNite (DSM-310) – exclusively available via Wal-mart for $48. So, as I’m wont to do, I immediately picked one up (and simultaneously discovered a new Roku box).

Unlike its chief competition at this price point, MovieNite has a finite number of pre-loaded “channels” compared to Roku’s 400+ channel bazaar (which often is bizarre). And D-Link’s competently covered all the bases with Vudu (by Wal-mart) for high quality video rentals, Netflix streaming, Pandora audio, and Picasa photos. Also, D-Link bests Roku by offering YouTube.

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As to the actual experience, MovieNite can be a bit rough around the edges with a sometimes sluggish interface, perhaps exacerbated by a lack of transitions, and old school fonts. I also experienced a lock up that required pulling the power cable and another incident where the box let out a high pitched squeal as it rebooted. Having said that, the streamlined UI homescreen is suitable for novices — like my mom who’d be overwhelmed by all of Roku’s options and put off by their advertising. Further, the remote channel shortcut buttons make much more sense with a fixed lineup. Continue Reading…

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Just last month we reported that a new “Roku HD” SKU had hit the FCC, and today I found it nestled amongst the Roku 2 XD and XS models at Walmart. 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 2 HD” online… for the same price. Not to mention, by my count, the Roku 2 is actually fourth generation hardware. And, so, perhaps this labeling change up suggests Roku will be following in Apple’s footsteps by dropping the numerical suffix.

As we wrote last month:

the new HD (model 2500) seems more akin to the LT (model 2400) than the 2 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 microSD 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.

As our digital streamers have shrunk in size, placement options have increased. And I stumbled upon this clever little mount for my Apple TV.

The Innovelis Total Mount ($20) can be positioned in three ways – either bolted to your wall with included screws, Velcro strapped to a HDTV wall mount, or hung from your HDTV by clipping into the television vents. I opted for the vent mount, and I imagine most investing in this solution will do likewise. Innovelis kindly includes clips for various vent style (vertical, horizontal, circular) and I picked up a 1ft HDMI cable via ebay for $2.98, shipped.

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As you can see from the pics and video, the solution nicely cleans up the (minimal) clutter. I don’t have any overheating concerns and my Apple TV actually responds better this location as the remote IR bounces off the walls or ceiling en route to the set-top.

Based on my success with the Apple TV mount, I’ll be picking up a second… as Innovelis also produces one for the similarly shaped Roku 2. But my second 1′ HDMI cable won’t be sufficient, given the proximity of HDMI ports to preferred vent location on our larger living room television and I’ll be ordering a 1.5′ or 2′ replacement.

Save Some Money On Roku

Dave Zatz —  March 26, 2012 — 3 Comments

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In the market for a Roku streaming box? If so, you’ve got a few deals to choose from today… At the high end, the “flagship” Roku 2 XS is 20% off as Amazon’s Deal of the Day. Instead of $99.99, you’ll only be paying $79.99. Beyond providing access to a variety of “channels” including Netflix, Amazon Instant Video, and Pandora this model also features a Wii-esque motion control remote that enables gaming — think Angry Birds. Possibly more practical is the inclusion of USB and Ethernet jacks that its lower end brethren lack. If, by chance, Amazon sells out or you miss this opportunity, Best Buy is offering the same model for a slightly lesser $10 discount — clocking in at $89.99.

If these features don’t appeal or the Roku 2 XS is still more than you’re prepared to invest in a streamer, Woot is offering two different prior generation Roku boxes for $49.99. However, I’d urge folks to consider the similarly priced Roku LT instead – it may cap out at 720p, versus the 1080p found on several other Roku models, yet that higher definition streaming content is hard to come by. More importantly, this model features Roku’s current hardware and software platform. Meaning it’s more likely to see updates and new features… including Netflix captions and BBC iPlayer.

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In other Roku sales and marketing news, it appears they’ve recently invested in a Best Buy endcap (pics below). It’ll be a reasonably attractive and informative advertisement once Best Buy powers on the TV, removes those “do not inventory” stickers from the streamers, and come up with a better way to secure the remotes to the display.

The Week In Roku

Dave Zatz —  March 17, 2012 — 3 Comments

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. Continue Reading…

While most of the competition offers YouTube on the big screen, Roku remains a notable holdout. At one point, we did enjoy an unofficial “private” channel… which Google had shut down (to new users). And while there was a glimmer of hope last fall that an authentic YouTube channel was headed our way, it’s yet to materialize.

We have no way of knowing if this is related to an unwillingness by Roku to license YouTube, technical issues, or something else. But we do have a workaround: YouTube video links that are dropped into your News Feed or Timeline can be accessed via the official Facebook Channel on Roku. It may not be pretty, and lacks the discovery element, but it’s fairly effective. And if you’re not interested in spamming your friends, simply set the video status updates to private.

Check out the video above to see the process in action.