By Harry McCracken | Tuesday, October 11, 2011 at 6:00 am
Roku, which pretty much invented the cheap, easy-to-use Internet TV streaming box, is the sort of scrappy startup which you might have assumed would get steamrolled by mammoth competitors early on. Instead, it’s continued to do well even as Apple and Google have muscled in on its territory–in part because it’s a fine product, in part because it’s aggressively priced, and in part because the lineup of content is good and keeps getting better.
Today, Roku has news on two of those fronts. It’s introducing a new basic model called the Roku LT that brings the price down to $49 for the first time–cheap for a Roku, and absurdly cheap in a market in which some products cost $200 or more. The LT does 720p video, and joins fancier models at $59, $79, and $99. (The top of the line Roku 2 XS does casual gaming, including Angry Birds.)
Are there people who wouldn’t buy a $59 Roku who will buy a $49 one? Roku thinks so, and it does sound like a lot of fun for the money. It’ll be available from Roku and retailers in early November.
Roku is also announcing that it’s adding the HBO GO streaming service to all Roku players at the end of this month. HBO includes moves and full seasons of all HBO shows, and is available only to people who subscribe to HBO via cable or satellite. It joins more than 300 other channels on Roku, including Netflix, Amazon Video on Demand, Hulu Plus, Pandora, Major League Baseball, and much more.