While Roku has focused its time on taking over the streaming box market, it has now set its sights on the smart TV business with the announcement of the new Roku TV at CES in Las Vegas. In partnership with Hisense and TCL, the company will bring its popular streaming software directly onto televisions set to debut later this year.
Roku TV will combine a similar interface as its Roku 3 offering with some additional functionality for better integrating into existing home entertainment set-ups. Roku's senior VP of products, Jim Funk, said the additional features will create an easy-to-use entertainment hub for users to access cable and gaming consoles as well as on-demand and other streaming services.
"Roku TV removes all of the complicated layers and menus, and unnecessary features and settings that plague smart TVs today, and instead provides a Roku home screen that brings together all content sources," said Roku in a blog post.
Part of the new user friendly Roku TV environment is the remote. "Roku TV will feature just 20 remote-controlled buttons – half the number of traditional TVs – so consumers will only need to interact with the necessary controls," the company said. Additionally, Roku TV can be navigated using the iOS or Android Roku app.
While other companies will eventually be able to use the Roku TV design, software and remote sometime in the future, the initial models will be produced by the aforementioned Hisense and TCL. The first six Roku TVs available will have displays between 32 and 55-inches and are expected to come available in the Fall.
With so many competitors in the set-top streaming box market offering similar features, it seems like a logical move for Roku to want to make the jump directly into your TV. Both TCL and Hisense are among the top smart TV manufacturers globally and are a suitable pairing, together the two companies shipped 21 million TVs in 2012 and make up 9% of the world's TV market. While those with a taste for brand names may not opt in right away, it will certainly bring the Roku platform into more homes than its existing streaming boxes, a business the company will continue building upon, expanding and supporting.
With what looks to be a much more completely integrated experience than the Roku 3 and the additional international exposure from Hisense, TCL and possibly other companies down the line, the company's plans for total living room domination appear to be moving forward at a steady pace.
The Roku 3 has solidified the company's position as one of the most popular set top boxes. The Roku 3 features a faster processor than its predecessor, dual-band Wi-Fi support, as well as a revamped user interface that should make discovering content from its 750 partner channels a lot easier. As far a ports are concerned you get Ethernet, HDMI with up to 1080p support, a microSD slot and USB with support for H.264 MKV video files.
The Roku 2 XS offers dozens of Internet video and audio services, including Netflix, Hulu Plus, Amazon Instant Video, Crackle, Pandora, NHL, NBA, and MLB. The 2 XS packs an HDMI port and a microSD card slot for additional game and channel storage. It also includes Roku Bluetooth game remote for playing games.
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