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 →
Roku has just announced that they will be adding a Hulu Plus channel to their lineup “later this fall.” As the press release reads: “Hulu Plus offers one of the deepest offerings of TV shows, both current and classic, on a streaming platform to subscribers in the U.S. Through Hulu Plus on Roku, TV lovers can watch every episode of more than 45 current hit programs from ABC, FOX and NBC.” A Hulu Plus subscription, which will still be required, retails for $9.99 per month. We’ve got the full press release after the break. More →
Today, Roku announced a new line of HD streaming video players, the Roku XD and the Roku XDS. To get your initial question out of the way: Yes, both new players can stream video in a full 1080p. The Roku XD, which will retail for $79.99, and the Roku XDS, which will retail for $99.99, both feature an HDMI-out port, Wi-Fi b/g/n, and an “instant replay” function (allowing you to skip back 7-seconds on streaming content without re-buffering). The XDS model will have dual-band Wireless-N technology, component video out, optical audio out, and USB port. The USB port will allow you to “play stored music, photos, and up to 1080p video using a USB playback channel, available as a free upgrade.” The original Roku HD player, which can stream in a maximum of 720p, is now available for a measly $59.99. All three players — the HD, XD, and XDS — are available at Amazon or Roku.com starting today. More →
Today, Roku announced a partnership with consumer movie company Flixster that will bring HD movie trailers right to your television. The new service will allow Roku owners to “search Flixster’s entire database of movie trailers and then search for those same movies to watch through one of Roku’s partners including Netflix and Amazon Video On Demand.” The trailers will be for unreleased and released movies; ratings from Rotten Tomatoes will also be displayed. Flixster has mobile applications for Android, BlackBerry, iPhone, and webOS as well as a WAP site. Hit the jump for the full release. More →
Today, Roku and MP3tunes announced a partnership that will bring your iTunes music library to your television. MP3tunes, for those not familiar, is a company that provides “secure online music space” and features “unlimited listening.” The company’s website boasts, “With just a couple clicks, Locker users can sync their personal digital music and video up to ‘the cloud’ for enjoying from any web browser and a wide variety of mobile and home entertainment devices.” And starting today, you can add the Roku to that list. MP3 offers 10GB of storage for free — ad supported of course — with paid options all the way up to 200 GB. Hit the jump for the full press release. More →
Folks on the fence about a Roku box may be swayed by the news that Roku is teaming up with Clearleap to bring on-demand cable TV programing to the video streaming platform. Clearleap is a growing company that serves as the middle man between cable, satellite and telephone companies that have on-demand content and video streaming services like Roku that want to dish up this content. This arrangement would allow Roku users to purchase on-demand movies from their television provider via their Roku box and have all charges tacked onto their monthly TV bill. That’s definitely great for those with more than one TV in their house, and could also potentially allow television providers the option to offer the Roku box as a cable box alternative. Roku’s move towards providing traditional video-on-demand content is still in its infancy as no content providers have currently jumped on board. But if and when this on-demand service materializes, Roku owners will only have to download an update with the on-demand application to activate the service. More →
Roku customers that are also patrons of Netfix have a reason to jump for joy this spring evening as the two companies have released a video showing off an upcoming redesign of the Roku-Netflix experience. Due out in June as a free software update, users will not only have a shiny new interface to stare at but will be able to browse, search and play everything in Netflix’s instant streaming catalog as well as add movies and TV shows to a queue for watching at a later time. We’ve got the teaser video lined up for you after the jump, so don’t forget to click through the jump and check it out. More →
One of our favorite set-top boxes, Roku, has just announced that it is launching the Roku Channel Store. The good news for you couch potatoes is that the first 10 channels are free. The open platform for sharing content on TV will allow you to share pictures and video, and listen to Internet radio and podcasts. New channels available to add right now are Pandora, Facebook Photos, Flickr and TWiT (This Week In Tech). Plus, since this is an open platform, developers can jump on the Roku bandwagon to add in getting more channels out.
But here’s the best part: Anthony Wood, CEO and co-founder of Roku, says, “Now content producers and distributors – from single person shops to billion dollar corporations – can deliver their content directly to consumers without having to go exclusively through cable operators, satellite networks or TV affiliates.” Less restriction could mean more of the content you want without paying premiums. When is it available? Existing customers will get a free and automatic upgrade and new Roku customers will get the upgrade as soon as they get their box going. If you own a Roku box and are currently subscribed, let us know what you think of the new channels.
Roku announced this morning that it would be adding Amazon Video On Demand to its portfolio of available online video content, bringing the grand total up to two. Roku owners will be able to rent or purchase movies and televisions shows from Amazon’s 40,000-title-strong Video On Demand service after an update that will be rolled out over the course of the next week to enable this service on all Roku boxes. With Netflix as the cornerstone, Amazon content as a supplement and YouTube supposedly on the way, the $99 Roku box keeps looking better and better.
While there’s nothing more than a rogue screen-shot to go by at the moment, we wouldn’t rule this one out as a possible feature of the upcoming Roku software revision. Currently in private beta, Roku is testing its new Amazon VOD integration into what was previously a one-trick Netflix streaming pony. The integration with Amazon Video was a boon for anyone looking to extend the functionality of their little Roku and if the shot above is to be believed, we might see that value extended even further. Sounds good, right? While it’s still quite a ways off from being a direct competitor to the Apple TV, the price is far more appealing for anyone looking to add a bit of streaming VOD to their home theater setup and it’s becoming more and more viable as a legitimate option for serious movie and video enthusiasts. Now all we need is a little Hulu support and we’ll consider ourselves more than happy. You listening Roku? Mmmmk, thanks.