Tag Archives | Roku

MOG Headed for the iPhone, Android, and Roku

Music service MOG has a number of attractive features, including Rhapsody-like on-demand access to albums and tracks, “artist stations” that only play songs by the artist in question, and a low price ($4.99 a month for unlimited streaming). It’s also had one major limitation: It’s only been available in your browser. But MOG has plans to change that, starting next month.

As TechCrunch’s Jason Kincaid is reporting, MOG says that Apple has approved a MOG app for the iPhone–one that lets you stream or download any song from its catalog. It intends to release the iPhone app and a similar Android one in July, and to charge $9.99 for all-you-can-listen access in the browser and on a phone. (That’s low by historic standards, but the same price that Rhapsody charges for a plan that lets you listen online and on one mobile device.)

July should also see the debut of a version of MOG for Roku’s cool, inexpensive TV set-top box. Unlimited on-demand Roku listening will be included in the basic $4.99 plan; for music fans who want to listen a lot without spending a lot, it sounds like a deal.


Wanna Watch YouTube on Roku Today?

Are the more obscure content offerings not doing it for you on your Roku? If so, perhaps the limitless video (of varying quality) found on YouTube makes for a better channel. I first caught wind of YouTube on Roku over a year ago. But it then seemed that Google changed their YouTube API and/or licensing terms. Followed by nothing. Until today…

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Roku Launches New Netflix, More

As I’ve chatted with various folks about Google TV over the past week, one question has come up repeatedly: What does this mean for Roku? The inexpensive little box is currently one of the simplest, most effective ways to get Internet video onto an HDTV, and I’ve never met anyone who owned one who wasn’t a fan. Products based on Google TV won’t be carbon copies of Roku boxes by any means, but they’ll surely compete with them.

The good news is that Roku’s player has a solid track record of getting better over time. Earlier this month, the company announced a major makeover of its Netflix channel, and plans to begin to push this update out to Roku owners this Friday.

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UFC PPV Comes to Roku

Later today, Roku will make a UFC channel available to owners of their $99 box. While the highlight is obviously HD pay per view fights ($45ish?), freebie Octagon-related video content will also be available. Additionally, live event archives will be made available to PPV subscribers several days after the fact – which worked out well for my trial of Roku’s UFC service.

It’s my understanding that various press and bloggers were given advance access to the UFC113 event held on May 8th via Roku. However, given the coverage, it looks like I may be one of the few with an appreciation for combat (as a former wrestler and judoka). Quality was good. But probably not good enough. Granted, this was a beta encode of the live event and I do expect the picture quality to improve. As it has with Roku’s NBA Game Time. Also, the transport controls are limited. For this kind of action, we’re going to need a trick play function.

Fortunately, as I mentioned, live events are archived and available for a week after the fact. And given the late start time, I ended up saving the title fight (Machida vs Shogun) for Sunday. The video replay does come with full transport controls, although they aren’t as smooth as say a TiVo. Plus, I’d like to see some sort of per fight bookmarking to quickly hop around the undercard or skip to the main attraction.

All in all, Roku just keeps getting better. And while the UFC video quality (thus far) isn’t amazing, they provide a solid option to bypass cable or satellite options when unavailable. Plus, the Roku travels well. Bring your UFC fights on the road or to a friend’s home. Next up: UFC 114, May 29th.

(This post republished from Zatz Not Funny.)

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Roku to Get a Nicer Netflix

Netflix may be among the most widely-available Internet video services on gadgets like set-top boxes, game consoles, DVRs, and TVs themselves, but what you get has been a Netflix player–you’ve had to find, queue, and otherwise manage stuff you want to watch in a browser on a computer.

Now Internet  TV box maker Roku is offering a sneak peak at a software update which will give Roku users apparently comprehensive access to Netflix on the TV, no PC required. Looks pretty slick. (Bonus: I assume that this interface shows only Watch Instantly titles, removing the clutter of movies and TV shows that are available only on DVD.)

Roku says the new Netflix experience will be ready in June; it’ll ship on new Roku boxes and will be a free update for current owners.


Okay, Is Now the Time to Dump Cable TV?

A year ago, I toyed with the idea of getting rid of cable and doing all my TV watching online. In the end, I kept Comcast–partially out of lethargy, but mostly because (A) cable is still a much better source of news-related programming than the Web, and (B) I’m very comfortable with my TiVo.

Reason (A) still strikes me as a significant argument in favor of keeping cable. With reason (B), however, I may be at a crossroads. My TiVo HD, which never worked very well, now isn’t working at all–it crashes every few minutes. I’m still trying to troubleshoot it, but I suspect that the drive is bad and will need to be replaced. That’ll require an investment of money and time, and while I may go through with it, I’m also flirting with the notion of retiring the TiVo and giving up cable.

News remains the biggest argument against doing so: I still like the idea of having CNN, CSPAN, Fox News, MSNBC, and other newsy outlets readily available. On the other hand, some of this stuff is available in podcast form–albeit after a delay–and it’s not like I’m glued to TV news every night. (I do, however, like to gorge on it when breaking events warrant, whether they involve election night or a celebrity death or the moving tale of a small boy swept away in his father’s experimental balloon.)

If I cut the cable and give up TiVo, what should I replace them with? I’m still not sure. I like Roku. I own an Apple TV that I don’t use much but would probably enjoy if I made an effort to rediscover it. The Boxee Box looks promising.

But the one box that offers access to the widest variety of stuff–including an endless supply of free material–is a PC. So I’m also toying with the notion of connecting a Windows box or Mac Mini to my Vizio and using it for Netflix, Boxee, YouTube, video podcasts, and a whole lot more. The major downside: Even a cheap PC costs a lot more than a Roku or a Boxee Box. But hey, if I’m no longer tithing to Comcast I’ll have some newfound cash to spend.

I don’t need to give up cable. I can afford it, and there are times that I’m very glad I have it. But more and more, I feel guilty about spending as much I do each month given how little of it I end up watching. It feels wasteful, like filling up your plate at an all-you-can-eat buffet when you know you’re only going to take a bite or two.

Here’s the part where I ask for your advice. What would you do? What are you doing?


First Look: Roku Adds a Channel Store

When Roku introduced its Internet TV box in 2008, it offered a grand total of one content source–Netflix–and was in fact sometimes called the Netflix Player. Then it began adding options: Amazon Video on Demand and Major League Baseball. Tonight, it’s announcing that it plans to add a bevy of stuff via its new Channel Store, which will allow an array of providers to bring their content to Roku’s box, and therefore to your TV.

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Hands On With Roku’s New HD-XR Internet Video Player


Roku’s little video player is one of my favorite ways to get movies and TV shows off the Internet and onto a TV: It’s cheap, inconspicuous, and ridiculously easy to set up and use. And the content providers–Netflix, Amazon, and Major League Baseball–make for a nice lineup of entertainment.

Today, Roku is announcing that its lineup of players is expanding from one box to three. Don’t get too excited–the boxes all look the same, have the same remote, and are more similar than different in terms of features. But the new top of the Roku line is the Roku HD-XR, a $129.99 version with 802.11n Wi-Fi  for better performance and range (the previous model maxed out at 802.11g). The HD-XR also has a USB port for unspecified future use.

Roku lent me an HD-XR box to try. Here at Technologizer World Headquarters, it did indeed deliver better wireless video than the original Roku–as long as nothing else terribly heavy-duty was going on over my broadband connection, I was able to stream high-def video wirelessly and reliably. That’s an improvement on the first box, which works reasonably well but hiccups occasionally even when streaming standard definition programming.

The new Roku did, however, get bogged down when it had to compete for network bandwidth–such as when I watched YouTube on my laptop, or copied files from one machine to another. If you’re able to use the player’s Ethernet port rather than depend on wireless, it’s still the best option. (I sometimes use powerline networking for this purpose.)

The existing Roku player is sticking around, under the new name of the Roku HD; it’s still $99.99. The company’s also releasing a stripped-down model called the Roku SD–it only has composite output and therefore can’t do high definition at all. It’s $79.99, but I’d spring for the HD model (or the HD-XR one) unless you’re absolutely positive you’ll never own an HDTV. (And if you are, I’m surprised you’re reading this.)

Roku tells me that it’ll have news soon about additional channels of content that it’ll offer to folks who own its boxes; if it’s good stuff, it could be at least as exciting as today’s hardware developments. And my colleague and fellow Roku fan Dave Zatz’s list of five ideas to improve the company’s players remains unfulfilled. Here’s hoping that Roku implements at least some of Dave’s proposals…



Roku Adds Baseball’s MLB.TV Service

Roku BaseballRoku,  the Internet video box that’s simple and fun to use, with a near-impulse price ($99.95), has a new source of content: Major League Baseball. The Roku folks have signed a deal with the MLB to put live broadcasts of all games on the player, starting with the rest of the reason. The games are available to folks who subscribe to the MLB.TV Premium service, which runs $19.95 a month or $109.95 for the year (or $34.95 for the remainder of the 2009 reason). The gamecasts join Netflix Watch Instantly and Amazon on Demand video among Roku’s offerings.

The service includes DVR-like rewind, fast-forward, and pause features and HD when available, and you can watch a week’s worth of archived shows. It’s the latest evidence that the MLB is the most progressive organization in sports when it comes to tech savvy; early instances included its release of the wonderful At Bat app for the iPhone and deal to put MLB.TV in Boxee’s media-center software.

Why start showing ballgames well past the All-Star break? Roku’s Brian Jaquet told me that the new service is in beta, and that it “opens avenues” to put other sports on the Roku player.  Roku says that an update to the player’s software that enables MLB.TV should be ready for Roku owners starting tonight; it hasn’t shown up when I check for updates on the Roku box I’m using, but  I’m looking forward to giving it a try. I don’t need access to every game, but when your favorite team is 3,000 miles away, getting to watch any game you choose sounds mighty appealing.

MLB TV on Roku


What’s Next for Roku? Five Suggestions.

[A NOTE FROM HARRY: I’m tickled to announce that we’ll be republishing some of Dave Zatz’s posts from his blog Zatz Not Funny here on Technologizer. Dave’s a frequent commenter here, but I was a fan of his blog–which focuses on digital media–long before there was a Technologizer. Welcome, Dave!]


I love my little Roku box. The Roku Digital Media Player ($99, Amazon), which began life as the Roku Netflix Player, streams Netflix content (free for subscribers) and Amazon video on demand (VOD). Standard def was decent, but both are now available in HD (720p). Sure, it’s not Blu-ray but it’s good enough for many. Perhaps, most. And the mighty quick, dead simple interface is a joy to use, providing a better experience than TiVo’s equivalent Netflix and Amazon apps. We know Roku’s got several new partner services lined up this year, including video podcasts by MediaFly and Blip.tv webisodes. Plus, it looks like YouTube may also be on tap. At $99 the Roku’s in impulse purchase territory–it’s hard to go wrong. Having said that, as an owner and a guy who follows this space, I’ve got a few suggestions for the Roku team (and their partners). Enable a few of these, and I’ll pick up a box for every room.

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