I helped to judge a cool contest for developers of channels for Roku’s Internet TV box–and Roku has announced the winners. (I judged the screensaver category, which was won by a nifty one which displays your Picasa Web Albums photos.)
Tag Archives | Roku
A couple of weeks ago, I wrote about Netgear’s release of a Roku TV box under its own brand, the first example of Roku being available on a device it didn’t sell itself. Now it’s official that Roku is looking to line up additional companies to build its software into their boxes.
I once asked an executive from Roku whether the company planned to sell its little Internet TV boxes–available from Roku itself as well as Amazon.com–through retailers. The answer? Not really, since the device’s low pricetag didn’t leave much room for markup. But times change: A Roku box is now available at Best Buy, RadioShack, and Fry’s. This one’s not a Roku product, though: Networking-product maker is selling the Netgear Roku Player NTV250, which it says will for for under $90. It looks like a doppelganger of Roku’s own XD model, and gets all the content (Netflix Watch Instantly, Amazon Video on Demand, Major League Baseball, much more) that’s available on Roku’s own gizmos. Sounds like a smart move as Roku girds up to do battle with Apple, Google, and other much larger companies that are intruding on its territory.
Nice, very detailed comparison review of Roku and Apple TV by Dan Rayburn (who gives the nod to Roku).
Good news for Roku and TiVo fans: Roku and TiVo Premiere boxes are getting Hulu’s Hulu Plus service later this Fall. For ten bucks a month, Plus subscribers will be able to get scads of new TV episodes and a sizable back catalog of old stuff, and Roku and TiVo will let them watch it all on their TVs.
It’s good news for Roku and TiVo, too, since Hulu Plus will be an attractive offering that won’t be available on Apple’s Apple TV. I’ll be curious to see which is a bigger hit: Hulu Plus’s all-you-can-eat TV shows with ads, or Apple’s 99-cent HD TV rentals.
My new Technologizer column for TIME.com is up–it’s a look at the new wave of Internet-TV boxes for the living room that are arriving over the next couple of months, and it focuses on the new Roku, since that’s the only one I’ve personally kicked back with so far. I mention the new Apple TV too, of course–FOX News’s Clayton Morris has one in his possession, and he likes it and thinks it’ll become “a quiet hit” for Apple.
Now that Roku’s out and Apple TV is just about here, the next big questions for this category all rotate around Google TV and the Boxee Box–both of which aim for a more feature-packed, comprehensive approach to Internet TV than the keep-it-simple-and-cheap Roku and Apple TV. I hope to try ’em all before the holidays are here.
Internet TV box Roku is about to get scads of new competition–Google TV and Hulu Plus devices and the Boxee Boxfor sure, and maybe an all-new Apple TV. The Roku SD is now $59.99; the Roku HD is $69.99; and the top-of-the-line Roku HD-XR is $99.99. That reflects a $20 price cut for the SD and $30 cuts for the HD and HD-XR, all of which have built-in Wi-Fi networking. And it gets the basic box to a super-low price and the high-end one that should make sense no matter how much the new arrivals go for.
The company is also announcing an upcoming upgrade for the HD-XR model that will permit streaming of 1080p content (although most of the services it includes still top out at 720p).
The Roku boxes were already pleasing products at good prices; now they’re an even better deal. Would buy one? Well, I did get one last month, as a birthday gift. But at this point, unless time was of the essence, I’d wait a bit longer to see what the competition has in store. By December, we should have a good idea how the new gadgets stack up–and it’s possible that we’ll know a lot more about the future of Apple TV as soon as tomorrow.
Quick reminder: Along with LeVar Burton, Michael Endelman, Jim Louderback, Anthony Wood, and Dave Zatz, I’m a guest judge for Roku’s developer contest. The company is going to give away $35,000 in prizes for channels created for its Internet entertainment box–categories include video, audio, photo, screensaver (which I’m judging), social media, and founder’s choice. The deadline for entries is September 6th.
The New York Times’ Matt Richtel and Brian Stelter have a nice story today on the threat posed to traditional cable TV by free and low-cost Internet TV. Despite the growing sophistication of Web service, Americans still haven’t started cutting the cable cord in droves. Richtel and Stelter point to popular content that’s not available (legally) online–such as American Idol and True Blood–as a primary explanation for cable’s continued viability.
I’ve been writing about the idea of dumping cable for a long time and am instinctively drawn to it…but I haven’t done it. In our household, we’re heavy watchers of Netflix on Demand via a Roku box. We also watch Hulu and occasionally partake of movies and TV on iTunes and Amazon on Demand. But we still consume plenty for Comcast Xfinity cable TV. (For that matter, we also buy DVDs, and I’ve been known to pull out VHS tapes.)
Roku’s neat little Internet TV box is also a platform for third-party channels–app-like services which can offer music, photos, social networking tools, and more. The company is taking a logical step to encourage developers to create cool stuff: It’s holding a channel competition and giving away a total of $35,000 in prizes to the creators of the best channels.
Who decides which entries are the best? The first round of judging will be done by Roku owners. Then a final pass will be done by guest judges: Jim Louderback of Revision3 will look at video channels; Michael Endelman of Rolling Stone will handle music; Dave Zatz of Zatz Not Funny will take care of photos; actor, director, producer, and Twitter superstar LeVar Burton will be responsible for social media; and Roku founder Anthony Wood will choose a special award called Founder’s Choice. Oh, and I’m handling screen savers–should be fun.
The deadline for entries is September 6th, and winners will be named in October. Here are the complete rules.