Here's A Look At The New Streaming Boxes From Roku

Roku family of streaming boxesRokuThe four devices in Roku’s family.

Roku, the same company that makes the
best streaming TV box thing in the world, has updated the rest of its product line up.

The company has had low-end and mid-tier alternatives to the top-of-the-line Roku 3 for months, but those devices have now been updated with new designs and/or extra features. The new products are available for pre-order now and will be available in October.

Here’s the breakdown:

  • The Roku LT is the company’s entry-level device. It’s the same as before on the inside, but has a new design on the outside. It supports up to 720p HD video and costs $US49.99.
  • The Roku 1 is the same as the Roku LT, but supports full 1080p HD video. It costs $US59.99.
  • The Roku 2 is the same as the Roku 1, but includes a new remote with a headphone jack. When you plug headphones in, the audio from your TV mutes and plays through the headset instead. This feature was originally introduced on the Roku 3 earlier this year. The Roku 2 also supports full 1080p HD video. It costs $US79.99.
  • The Roku 3, which launched a few months ago, has all the features of the Roku 2, but includes a motion sensor in the remote for gaming. It costs $US99.99.

But beyond the hardware, the real story is Roku’s interface, which makes it very easy to discover new stuff to watch. For example, its search feature will let you look up an actor, genre, director, etc. and pull in results from all sources like Netflix, Hulu, and the online video store Vudu. There are also more than 1,000 apps (or “channels” as Roku calls them) that include various streaming services and games.

Roku is also pushing out a software update for the boxes that adds movies and TV shows from the service M-GO. M-GO has a bunch of current movies and TV shows that you can rent and download using your Roku account. It’s integrated directly into the Roku software.
So which one should you buy? Out of all these devices, the Roku 2 seems like the best value. It includes the killer headphone/remote feature and still has all the same software features as the Roku 3 for $US20 cheaper. Most people won’t need the motion sensor in the Roku 3 remote.

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