Roku thinks outside the box, builds into TVs

Roku's streaming service will be incorporated into TVs from six companies this year, including TCL and HiSense

Roku TV from TCL (5)

Roku TV from TCL (5)

Forget a Roku streaming video box: this year the company is building its famous video streaming service directly into televisions.

Smart TVs with Roku's Internet video streaming service -- dubbed Roku TVs -- will go on sale this year, eliminating the need for a streaming video box. Six TV makers will release Roku TVs with screen sizes between 32 and 55 inches, said Roku CEO Anthony Wood in an interview.

"It's a TV ... based on our software," complete from the user interface all the way down to the remote control, Wood said.

TCL and HiSense will be among the first to sell Roku TVs, and will show models at International CES in Las Vegas this week.

"We don't expect these TVs to be expensive," Wood said.

The Roku TVs could appeal to those who rely on streaming video for TV entertainment, or those who want to cut cable bills. Sony, Samsung, LG and others offer their own versions of smart TVs, but Roku provides the largest catalog of 1,200 channels. Roku last year streamed 1.7 billion hours of content, up 70 percent from 2012, Wood said. Its video streaming players are priced between $49 and $99, and last year it shipped around 8 million units.

Turning on the TV will load the Roku homescreen, similar to the one on the company's Roku 3 streaming boxes. Channels available will include Netflix, Hulu Plus, Disney, PBS and a host of news, movies, sports, kids and international channels. However, some channels like WatchESPN and Disney are accessible only with subscriptions to specific content providers such as cable companies.

The TVs will have the usual connectors like HDMI to attach cable boxes and game consoles. Specifications like resolutions, screen sizes and refresh rates for the TCL and HiSense TVs were not available.

The remote control will be half the size of regular TV remotes. But it will have volume and channel buttons, which are not on Roku 3 remotes, Wood said.

"The integrated TV will be the more common way to get Roku," Wood said. "One of our goals is to bring this to a bunch of brands."

Roku TV partners TCL and HiSense may not be as widely known as Samsung or Sony, but budget TVs from those companies are becoming popular, Wood said. Roku reached out to larger TV makers, but those companies are heavily invested in their smart TV platforms and won't abandon them anytime soon, Wood said.

With the growing popularity of streaming content, Wood hopes the new products will provide a new way to watch TV. Millions of users already access Roku's service, and many developers are writing applications for the Roku interface.

"I think the TVs are going to consolidate around [Roku] OS," Wood said.

The release of Roku TVs won't upset the company's streaming box business, which Wood expects will also continue to grow.

Agam Shah covers PCs, tablets, servers, chips and semiconductors for IDG News Service. Follow Agam on Twitter at @agamsh. Agam's e-mail address is agam_shah@idg.com

Join the Good Gear Guide newsletter!

Error: Please check your email address.
Rocket to Success - Your 10 Tips for Smarter ERP System Selection

Tags CESconsumer electronicsTVsRoku

Keep up with the latest tech news, reviews and previews by subscribing to the Good Gear Guide newsletter.

Agam Shah

IDG News Service
Show Comments

Most Popular Reviews

Latest Articles

Resources

PCW Evaluation Team

Matthew Stivala

HP OfficeJet 250 Mobile Printer

The HP OfficeJet 250 Mobile Printer is a great device that fits perfectly into my fast paced and mobile lifestyle. My first impression of the printer itself was how incredibly compact and sleek the device was.

Armand Abogado

HP OfficeJet 250 Mobile Printer

Wireless printing from my iPhone was also a handy feature, the whole experience was quick and seamless with no setup requirements - accessed through the default iOS printing menu options.

Azadeh Williams

HP OfficeJet Pro 8730

A smarter way to print for busy small business owners, combining speedy printing with scanning and copying, making it easier to produce high quality documents and images at a touch of a button.

Andrew Grant

HP OfficeJet Pro 8730

I've had a multifunction printer in the office going on 10 years now. It was a neat bit of kit back in the day -- print, copy, scan, fax -- when printing over WiFi felt a bit like magic. It’s seen better days though and an upgrade’s well overdue. This HP OfficeJet Pro 8730 looks like it ticks all the same boxes: print, copy, scan, and fax. (Really? Does anyone fax anything any more? I guess it's good to know the facility’s there, just in case.) Printing over WiFi is more-or- less standard these days.

Ed Dawson

HP OfficeJet Pro 8730

As a freelance writer who is always on the go, I like my technology to be both efficient and effective so I can do my job well. The HP OfficeJet Pro 8730 Inkjet Printer ticks all the boxes in terms of form factor, performance and user interface.

Michael Hargreaves

Windows 10 for Business / Dell XPS 13

I’d happily recommend this touchscreen laptop and Windows 10 as a great way to get serious work done at a desk or on the road.

Featured Content

Latest Jobs

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?