Roku on Tuesday unveiled the new Roku Streaming Stick, its own fresh take on affordable TV HDMI dongles that bring more entertainment to the living room – the company launched a similar streaming stick in 2012. Roku’s 2014 stick appears to be a response to Google’s Chromecast dongle, one of the most popular devices sold by the Search giant. Unlike the Chromecast, the Roku comes with an additional piece of hardware, a remote control that can be used to “access the sleek Roku user interface with shortcuts to movies, TV shows, news, the Roku Channel Store, Roku Search and more,” but it will still have some Chromecast-like streaming features. More →
Tim Cook revealed on Tuesday at the AllThingsD: D11 conference that Apple has now sold more than 13 million second-generation Apple TV devices. Even more impressive, the CEO noted that roughly half of those devices were sold in the past year alone. Philip Elmer-DeWitt of Fortune crunched the numbers and found that Apple controls more than half of the digital media receiver market. Not including dedicated gaming systems such as the PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360, Apple TV has a 71% share of the market. The popular Roku box has sold more than 5 million units, giving it a 27% share of the market, and the Boxee Box sold about 200,000 units, for a 1% share, before it was discontinued last summer.
Roku and 3M have a new streaming media device that has something the Apple TV and older Roku boxes don’t: a built-in projector. Touted as “the first-of-its-kind,” the Streaming Projector combines 3M’s history of tested portable projection technology with Roku’s expertise in providing digital media content. Armed with a rechargeable battery, the Streaming Projector can project an image up to 120 inches in size for up to two hours and 45 minutes on continuos play, which does seem a little short. In addition to the 600 channels from services including Amazon (AMZN) Instant Video, Hulu Plus and Netflix (NFLX), smartphones and tablets can also be connected to the projector to stream content via an iOS and Android app. More →
Microsoft is reportedly planning to launch a subsidized Xbox 360 and Kinect bundle with a monthly subscription option, according to The Verge. The software giant may offer its 4GB gaming console alongside its motion sensing input device for $99 with a two-year commitment, and an early termination fee will be included for contract breakers. Subscribers will then pay a monthly $15 fee that includes access to Xbox Live Gold, a two-year warranty and possibly additional streaming content as well. Microsoft will apparently position the package to compete against the Apple TV, Roku streaming box and PlayStation 3. The Verge reports that we could see an announcement as early as next week. More →
Roku on Tuesday announced a new $50 Roku LT player, the latest member of the company’s family of streaming media devices. The Roku LT supports 720p HD video, has built-in Wi-Fi, and provides access to 300 channels including Amazon Instant Video, Pandora, EPIX, Disney, Crackle, Hulu Plus and Netflix. ”Our goal is a Roku in every home,” Roku CEO Anthony Wood said. “The Roku LT opens up streaming to more people by lowering the cost of entry in these difficult economic times. With a $49 price and selection of more than 300 channels we expect the Roku LT will be everyone’s favorite Holiday device.” Additionally, Roku announced a new HBO GO partnership that provides on-demand access to 1,400 HBO movies and TV shows. Users must already subscribe to HBO through their cable provider in order to take advantage of this feature, however. The Roku LT will be available in early November from Roku’s website, Amazon and retail stores. Read on for the full press release. More →
Up until now, Roku devices have only been available online, but that changes today. Roku has just announced nationwide availability of their Roku XD model at all Best Buy locations. This is a pretty large move for the company, and with the success Roku has had online, there’s no question it will translate into retail sales. Press release after the break. More →
According to an unconfirmed report in The Seattle Times, Microsoft is preparing to demonstrate a new home entertainment product set to combat Apple TV and Google TV. The rumored service will supposedly be demonstrated this week at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas. Said to be powered by a “stripped-down version of Windows tailored for set-top boxes and connected TVs,” a customized version of Windows Embedded is the likely candidate for this type of product. The devices are also said to feature a UI similar to the Windows Media Center interface, and will include a “polished and familiar TV-program guide that makes it easy to blend and navigate both online and broadcast content.” While no manufacturing partners were revealed in the report, an initial round of Windows TV boxes will apparently go on sale later this year for around $200. More →
Both Zach and I have bought no fewer than five Roku XDS units as holiday gifts this season. So it comes as no surprise to us that Amazon has slashed $20 off of the device’s price now that our Rokus are all wrapped, mailed, and committed. The online retail giant has quietly reduced the price of the 1080p streaming media player from $99.99 down to $79.99. The Roku XDS offers full Netflix, Amazon, and Hulu Plus compatibility, as well as a host of other streaming options thanks to an online channel-store available to all users. Procrastination literally just paid you $20. The XDS is currently listed as “temporarily out of stock,” but if time is not of the essence, you can still go ahead and order yourself Roku’s high-end offering at the new, low price. More →
When Apple first announced that it would be issuing a refreshed version of Apple TV, several analysts and bloggers assumed set top boxes like Roku’s offering would be in trouble. According to Roku CEO Anthony Wood, however, the reality is just the opposite. The new Apple TV received a warm reception at launch, having sold 250,000 units during its first six weeks of availability. But Apple has been quiet about the product since its earnings call, and talk of the device has all but disappeared from the mainstream media. On the other hand, Roku’s sales doubled when the new Apple TV launched, Wood told Business Insider. Sales have also doubled year-over-year for the company, and Roku will sell its millionth box before the end of this month. Roku currently holds the No. 11 and No. 12 spots on Amazon’s list of best-selling electronics, and Amazon accounts for just 25% of Roku’s sales according to Wood. The company is also working on licensing deals that will bring in revenue from new channels as partner manufacturers build boxes based on the Roku platofrm. Roku projects $100 million in revenue in 2011, following over $50 million in sales this year. More →
Roku has just announced a firmware update — version 2.9 b1509 — for its popular line of streaming media players. The new code packs various bug fixes, playback optimizations, and, most notably, 1080p video playback for the Roku XR player. If your device hasn’t yet automatically retrieved the update, you can manually grab the firmware by navigating to: Settings > Player Info > Check For Updates. More →
If you’re looking to jump into the connected TV market, and aren’t quiet ready to go with Google TV, Roku is a great option. The company has just pinged us to let us know it is offering a sale on its widely popular Roku XD player starting tonight at 12:00PM PT. Roku will be offering its XD model player — which is capable of 1080p playback — at an additional 20% off. That brings the price of the already affordable box down to $64. The sale runs through Monday, November 29th. Happy shopping. More →
Here’s a bit of good news: Hulu has just announced that its Hulu Plus premium subscription service will shed $2 from its monthly price tag. As the press release reads: “The monthly price for Hulu Plus moving forward is just $7.99. Any current subscribers who joined during our preview period will receive a credit for the difference from the $9.99 preview price. This credit will automatically be applied to their next billing cycle.”
But the juice doesn’t stop there. Hulu has also announced the following promotions:
• One free week trials for all new subscribers. In addition, current subscribers who joined during the preview period will receive a credit for one week of Hulu Plus toward their next month’s subscription.
• Two free weeks of Hulu Plus for both current subscribers and friends they invite through our referral program. Subscribers can learn more by clicking on the “Referrals” tab on their Hulu profile page.
• 11 weeks ($20 worth) of free Hulu Plus with the purchase of a Sony BRAVIA connected TV or Blu-ray player through January 31, 2011. (See sony.com/huluplus.)
• One free month of Hulu Plus with the purchase of a Roku device through December 15, 2010. (See roku.com/hulu.)
The release also notes that the service is launching on Roku today and will be coming to “Internet-connected Vizio, LG Electronics, and Panasonic Blu-ray players and HDTVs; TiVo Premiere DVRs; the Xbox 360; and Western Digital’s WD TV Live Hub Media Center and WD TV Live Plus Network Media Player,” in the coming months. Updates to the Hulu Plus iPad, iPhone, iPod touch, Samsung, and PlayStation 3 players will be made available this week.
Anyone reconsidering Hulu Plus after the price drop? More →
Following Netgear’s announcement Tuesday that it would offer a $90 set top box powered by Roku’s software, it looks as though Roku is playing with alternative models in an effort to stay competitive. Roku gained notoriety in 2008 by providing an easy solution for streaming Netflix Watch Instantly video content to television sets. The company has since expended its product through partnerships that brought additional content from the likes of Amazon Video On Demand, MLB.TV and Hulu. With a growing content library and three new hardware products starting at just $59.99, Roku still finds in the precarious position of having to compete with the likes of Google, which recently launched Google TV, and Apple, which refreshed its Apple TV offering last month.
In an effort to combat the aforementioned giants, Roku is licensing out its software. The first taker, Netgear, announced the Netgear Roku Player NTV250 earlier this week, which is already available at Best Buy, Radio Shack, Fry’s, Amazon.com and Buy.com. Roku hopes that by letting larger hardware partners do the heavy lifting, it can spread its net as wide as possible and let the simplicity of its software carry partner offerings. There’s no question Roku has a great product, but Google has shown that it plans to be very aggressive with Google TV and Apple sold a quarter-million Apple TVs in just six weeks. Roku tells BGR that its business couldn’t be better right now but with competition like Apple and Google, Roku has its work cut out for it. More →