Archives For Roku

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A random web search turned me on to some interesting Roku job openings, emphasizing content relationships and recommendations. Individually, maybe they’re not so compelling. But from a holistic standpoint, perhaps these new positions shed a bit of light on Roku’s ambitions and decision to turn down an Amazon acquisition in favor of additional funding.

The first role is Roku Programming Director… to be located in Los Angeles. Which, of course, much of the content industry calls home. “The Director will survey the landscape of available content, plans and strategies” to assist “business development prioritize content acquisition efforts. ” Hm. By comparison, the Content Programming Manager will be based at Roku’s Nothern California headquarters and will basically function as a full-time recommendation engine: Continue Reading…

Within a few days of each other, Roku and TiVo launched Spotify music streaming apps a month or so ago. While both apps appear to be missing Spotify Radio, the difference in launch speed is dramatic… yet representative of their respective architectures.

As you can see from the video above, the TiVo Spotify app takes over thirty seconds to load while the Roku app is up and playing music in about 5 seconds. TiVo’s app may be visual richer, once it finally opens, but the sluggish interaction is further hindered without TiVo Slide or smarthphone keyboard support… unlike Roku’s integration of their virtual keyboard. Whether or not this is TiVo’s fault is mostly irrelevant as it’s ultimately their (customer’s) problem. And it’s somewhat disappointing that a top-of-the-line TiVo Premiere XL4 ($400, plus service fees) can’t keep up with a diminutive and inexpensive Roku ($80). Apps may not be TiVo’s primary selling point, but it’s frequently their differentiator over the competing cableco’s DVR…

As I alluded to yesterday, it’s unfortunate that I feel the need to colocate a Roku with every TiVo to get a more pleasing (and stable) experience in accessing some of the very same channels (Amazon, Netflix, Hulu Plus). Of course, that’s looking at the glass as half empty. The alternate perspective is that Roku continues to offer the best bang for the OTT buck. Here’s to hoping TiVo’s next line of DVRs truly live up to that “one box” billing.

The Roku LT Giveaway

Dave Zatz —  February 6, 2013

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Roku remains our top choice in the over-the-top streamer category. Yeah, an interface overhaul is long overdue and we could use a few more tent pole channels (such as YouTube or ESPN3), but Roku provides the best bang for the buck in this category. Especially the 720p Roku LT and Roku HD which clock in at a mere $50-$60 bucks. In fact, the Roku LT earned box-of-the-year honors in 2011 and we’ve lost count of how many Rokus we’ve purchased as gifts (often with a Netflix subscription and a suggestion to check out Plex). Well the folks at Roku facilitated an upgrade to a Roku 2 XS for coverage purposes, thus freeing up my Roku LT for a giveaway. And entering is as easy as it gets — simply leave a comment if you want in. (US residents in the lower 48 only, please.) We’ll choose one winner at random in a few days. Good luck!

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With a show as ginormous as CES, it’s safe to say lesser staffed outlets (such as yours truly) will overlook a number of interesting technologies. Fortunately, our readers have us covered and Jeff G. turned us onto the VOXX Digital Antenna with Roku. Wha?! While we did encounter Roku a number of times Vegas, all third party Roku Streaming Stick integration was HDTV-based. Whereas this off-the-wall antenna “will allow consumers to receive over-the-air local HD broadcast and streaming entertainment from the Roku platform which features hundreds of” over-the-top apps.

My first reaction was one of enthusiasm as the holy grail of home entertainment is seamlessly merging OTA and OTT content onto a single platform. Yet I suspect the MHL-equipped digital antenna, scheduled to ship Q4 under the Terk and RCA names, may run more than the actual Roku devices that start an economical 50 bucks. Not to mention all modern HDTVs ship with ATSC tuners and there’s no mention here of incoming DVR capabilities to augment live television viewing. So if your goal is access to both over-the-air network programming and streaming apps like Netflix via Input 1, a more practical solution would be the $100 Vizio Costar… with HDMI pass-thu and current availability. But we give VOXX credit for thinking well beyond the box.

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Roku, a cord cutter favorite for over-the-top video streaming that’s now approaching 5 million units moved, is trumpeting the imminent arrival of Time Warner Cable onto their platform here at CES. The app, scheduled to drop this first quarter of 2013 and available to current Roku models, will bring 300 channels of cable to TWC subscribers. Similar to what competing provider Verizon once demoed. Yet, without a numeric keyboard on the remote and given presumably Internet-streamed video, changing channels won’t exactly be “television” like and we suspect this “cable” box would be most suitable for secondary rooms and home gyms. And it’ll be interesting to see if TWC counts this data usage against their metered broadband, unlike Comcast’s brushes with net neutrality piping Xfinity to Xbox.

In other Roku CES news, they’ve hit the 700 channel milestone. While you won’t be interested in most, there’s bound to be a few worth catching. And amongst the new offerings, Vevo and PBS will surely joining my rotation. Additionally, the Roku Streaming Stick is now compatible with several new MHL-equipped HDTV partners — although I’m not convinced there’s a market for this poorly understood technology. No mention yet of a possible YouTube channel or the promised UI refresh… but the show is still young and Roku will be on display tonight at the Digital Experience press event.

UPDATE: As of 3/5, the Time Warner Cable channel is now available to TWC subscribers with Roku 2 models.