Roku has announced the new Roku 3 streaming device. The popular company has had a tight grasp on the marketshare for streaming boxes for the past few years. It has been a combination of a strong offering of apps, quality hardware options and a cheap entry to market.
The updated player is boasting a new processor that is clocking in at five times faster than their previous players. Lag has never really been a problem for the little streaming boxes, but this could enable new features or possibly even an official YouTube app. With the private channels users have always been able to view YouTube content, but it was not a seamless process and was not worth the hassle. The Roku 3 also has 1080p video support via HDMI, upgraded dual band wireless, Ethernet, USB ports and a microSD slot for additional app storage.
A great feature addition to the new version is the audio capability of the remote. It features a 2.5mm audio jack that allows for the insertion of headphones, which in turn mutes the audio out on the TV. This will allow for users to listen to music, movies and any content without disturbing other people in the same room. It is a simple feature that has been lacking in previous players and other brands. A set of purple ear buds will be included with the Roku 3 for the retail price of $99.
Of course the Angry Birds game has also been included and updated. Angry Birds Space will ship with this version. Android and Apple devices will still continue to support the Roku software with official apps. These apps allow you users to fully control the Roku like the remote does along with streaming music and photos from your mobile device. It is similar to how iOS allows devices to mirror content from your mobile device to an Apple TV device.
An upgraded interface is a feature that was the most needed. On the old interface users were stuck with scrolling through endless menus mainly going left and right on a single line. The new interface appears more modern and almost has a live tile appearance. You can see up to 9 apps on the home screen and have the ability to scroll in all directions.
A new updated universal search has been improved from the current version that was just updated a few months back. Some of the older versions will also receive the new interface as soon as April. Per their blog the official list of devices that will get the free update are the Roku 2 models, Roku HD (model 2500), Roku LT and the Roku Streaming Stick.
Time Warner just released their TWC app for Roku as well. “If you’ve been looking for a way to enjoy TWC TV in places where you may not have a cable box, like in the bedroom or the den, you can easily add a Roku player and stream TWC TV.”
This app is not for cord cutters as you still must subscribe to cable, but it is a nice addition to the Roku product.
Is the new interface and faster hardware enough to keep the current market share and to continue growing? Apple also been lacking with hardware and software updates on their existing Apple TV product. They are expected to make a play for the living room soon with either an iTV or an updated Apple TV product. Apple fans typically will flock to any new product and this type of consumer could hurt companies like Roku who have stand alone products.
Is the Roku 3 a big enough jump to make me want to upgrade my Roku 2? No, not even close. That could be the story for many existing owners and that is a problem for the company. Roku needed to attempt a revolution on the technology like they did originally. This update was needed, but until they have a major change I don’t see them gaining market share with new products coming from Samsung and Apple.
Will an official YouTube channel help their cause? Yes it should and if the rumored YouTube streaming music service is true that could be a giant boost for Roku to be able to support that service out of the box.
Roku 3 and the new Roku experience
From an intuitive new interface that helps you find the perfect movie faster than ever to a revolutionary remote with built-in headphone jack, the all-new, fully loaded Roku 3 was designed with you in mind! We’ve just set a new standard in streaming.
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