The set-top box market is heating up. Currently, the Apple TV is on store shelves, along with the new Logitech Revue, several Roku boxes, and many more products that are vying for your wallet. The only issue is, there isn’t a single device on the market right now that delivers everything consumers are really looking for. And the reason why is quite simple: they’re all overpriced.
Netgear already has its own range of media players, but the company has decided to take the easy route for Netflix support and rebadge one of Roku's well-esteemed models. The Netgear Roku XD Player is, unsurprisingly, the Roku XD with some new labels, which means you get Netflix and Amazon Video on Demand support (with select 1080p HD content), integrated WiFi b/g/n and a straightforward remote control.
Looks like the other rumors were true, too. After just hearing that the popular Hulu Plus service would be made available on the Roku boxes, TiVo just announced to the world that the Hulu service would be also made available on their TiVo Premiere DVRs, too. That means quite a bit of subscriptions to get your hands on Hulu Plus on your TV, but at least it's an option.
Today, Roku has officially announced that Hulu is coming to the Roku media streaming devices available in the market. It will be made available in the Hulu Plus variant, which means that if you want to get your hands on the media streaming service, you'll have to drop some money every month. But, the additional service to the media streaming set-top box does indeed put a new twist on the at-home media streaming services, and puts some question marks over the other set-top boxes available to consumers.
Roku has updated its line-up of on-demand media streamers, with the $59.99 Roku HD, $79.99 Roku XD with WiFi-N and 1080p, and the flagship $99.99 Roku XDS with dual-band wireless. Delivering Netflix, Amazon Video On Demand and other video content - together with audio from Pandora, MP3tunes, MOG and RadioTime, and pictures from Flickr and Facebook - the XD and XDS versions will also get Instant Replay for skipping back through video without waiting for it to rebuffer.
Roku has slashed prices of its media streaming range, with the entry-level Roku SD now priced at just $59. Meanwhile, the company is also promising to update their Roku HD-XR model - which has dropped from $129 to $99 - to support 1080p HD, up from the 720p HD of the current version. That will join the USB playback support, which is also due later in the year.
Let's face it. There's plenty of folks out there that love iTunes, but don't have an iPod, or some other iDevice. Not that there's a problem playing your iTunes library somewhere else, considering all of the music is now DRM-free, but there's still that desire to get that music to as many places as possible. So how about your TV? Well, if you've got a Roku Box, then you'll soon be free and clear to enjoy all of your music right from your TV.
At last week’s Google I/O conference, the search giant revealed plans for new web video technologies, an update to Android, and Google TV. Before we get into what Google TV is, it’s worth noting something that it isn’t – a tablet. (You’re probably thinking, “I don’t need a fancy analyst guy to tell me that Google TV isn’t a tablet, it’s sort of self-evident.” Bear with me.) Apple’s unbelievable early success with the iPad is due in large part to the fact that the iPad isn’t an entirely new product – it’s a sibling to the iPod touch. However, in addition to extending the iPhone/iPod/iTunes ecosystem to include the iPad, Apple rewrote its apps for the larger form factor and encouraged developers to specifically target the iPad with a segmented app store. Google is now targeting all three screens, the PC, TV, and phone, but missed the opportunity at its annual developer event to promote its vision for things that fit in between the phone and PC. There will be dozens of Android tablets out this year, and none of them will have an optimized experience. I think this is a major missed opportunity.
Looks like the time for much needed upgrades is upon us, because Roku has just let us know that their Netflix Channel will be getting a major face lift here soon. If you're a current owner of a Roku box, or you've been thinking about buying one, then be happy in knowing that the streaming movie service is getting the love and attention it deserves, especially when a search function is being included. We love searching for what we want. It just makes it all so much easier.