Geek News: Latest Technology, Product Reviews, Gadgets and Tech Podcast News for Geeks


Deal of the day — Roku 3 hits Woot at $64.99

Posted by Alan at 8:13 AM on March 30, 2014

roku-3Recently Roku released its Chromecast-like steaming stick. This comes on the heels of a version 3 release last year of the set-top box, an update that came with a remote that has a headphone jack built-in, allowing private watching for those times when the house needs to be quiet. The box retails for $99.99, but if you act today, you can get a deal.

Today only, Woot, the daily deal site now owned by Amazon, is offering the little set-top box for the price of $64.99 — a savings of $35 over the regular price.

“Faster and more powerful than ever. Enjoy 1,000+ channels of movies, TV shows, sports, and more. Plug headphones into the motion-control remote to play games or watch late-night flicks without disturbing the household. Fully loaded with one-stop search, 1080p, dual-band wireless, Ethernet, USB, plus a free Roku app. The Roku 3—the new streaming standard”, Woot describes it.

Roku is perhaps the prime player in an increasingly competitive market that includes Google and Apple as the other big players, though Microsoft’s new Xbox One is also a part of this, though it does more than just video. And remember, you can watch the Geek News Central podcast on it as well!

Roku teams with Hisense and TCL, shows off new TVs at CES

Posted by Alan at 5:35 AM on January 6, 2014

The Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas is now in full swing, despite that it doesn’t technically start until tomorrow. Products are already being announced at a blistering pace. One that comes as a bit of a surprise is a new TV from set-top box maker Roku.

The company has teamed with Hisense and TCL, who will actually build the hardware. The smart TVs will be powered my Roku software, allowing the interface to work in the same way as having a box hooked to a current set. “Roku TV removes all of the complicated layers and menus, and unnecessary features and settings that plague smart TVs today, and instead provides a Roku home screen that brings together all content sources. Just like Roku streaming players, Roku TV will have full access to the Roku Channel Store filled with more than 31,000 movies and 1,200 channels that feature TV shows and live sports plus news, music, kids, food, science, tech, fitness, foreign language and other programming”.

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Customers will be able to control the TV via mobile apps for both Android and iOS or via the included standard remote control, which Roku promises will be less complicated than many of those currently on the market.

The sets will come in a range of sizes, starting at 32-inches  to going up to 55. The first units will hit the market in the fall of this year.

Roku Gets YouTube

Posted by Andrew at 2:00 AM on December 18, 2013

Roku 3Perhaps unsurprisingly given Google’s now somewhat defunct plans for GoogleTV, YouTube has been one of the glaring omissions from the Roku platform. But not any longer. Roku has announced that a YouTube channel is now available on the Roku 3 in USA, Canada, UK and the Republic of Ireland. Older Rokus will be getting the channel next year, though the exact timing is unclear. For non-Roku owners, a channel is roughly equivalent to an app on other platforms.

The YouTube channel supports full 1080p HD and the press release suggests that subscriptions will carry over from other platforms so that your favourites can easily be seen on the Roku. The new channel also features “Send to TV”, which after pairing, lets you send a YouTube video from your smartphone or tablet for viewing on the Roku.

As a Roku 2 XS owner, I’m delighted but will have to wait a bit longer until I get the YouTube channel on my device (unless Santa has a surprise for me). Sadly, it will be one less reason to turn on my Nintendo Wii, especially with the HD support on the Roku.

4oD on the Roku

Posted by Andrew at 4:59 PM on November 26, 2013

4oDHurrah – 4oD (4 on Demand) is now available on the Roku in the UK! It looks like this is breaking news as there’s no mention of it on either Roku‘s or Channel 4‘s websites and I only happened to notice when I was checking for new channels. A few tweets are beginning to appear. Having a quick rummage, it looks on a par with the web version but without some of the personalisation features.

For non-UK residents, Channel 4 is one of the four terrestrial broadcasters (BBC, ITV, C4 and C5). The BBC’s iPlayer and Channel 5′s Demand 5 are already on the Roku, leaving ITV as the last network to get their catch-up TV service onto the Roku. Hurry up!

Roku unveils new lineup

Posted by Alan at 4:57 AM on September 25, 2013

There are rumors floating around the web of an Apple TV refresh coming soon,and Google is due a TV update of its own, though it really has not been getting much attention. Ahead of the competition, Roku has elected to push out its new device lineup. The company had previously pushed out a brand new Roku 3, but now adds a Roku 1, Roku 2 and redesigned Roku LT.

roku-1-2-3

The new Roku 2 gets a 3-like remote with headphone jack and dual-band wireless for better internet connectivity. It retails for $79.99 and is available in the US, Canada and the UK.

The Roku 1 takes streaming a step further than the Roku LT with support for up to 1080p HD video quality, though there is no remote headphone jack. Availability markets are the same and retail price is $59.99.

The new version of the LT is the most affordable way to stream to virtually any TV with support for up to 720p HD video quality. This one is US only and will sell for $49.99.

In addition, the company announces that “we’re also introducing the M-GO movie and TV store, integrated directly on our home screen menu in the U.S. for easy and instant access to their great selection of movies and TV shows. To make it even simpler, the M-GO service features direct billing with via a Roku account so users can rent or buy through M-GO without any extra account setup”.

Which set top box do you prefer? Let us know in the comments below.

Roku Surpasses Apple TV as Most-Used Streaming Set Top Box

Posted by J Powers at 11:05 AM on August 15, 2013

Roku-3According to a new report from Parks Associates, Roku has taken the lead as the most popular streaming video device in the US. Further, Parks Associates also showed the number of U.S. broadband households with streaming media device has doubled since 2011.

The group put out a report called Connected TV: Trends and Innovation (report for purchase). In this report, they found that 37% of households with a streaming media device use Roku – as opposed to 24% that use Apple TV.

Parks Associates expect the number of connected TV devices to reach 330 million by 2017. With newer, easier to use devices like ChromeCast entering into the market – along with Apple’s rumored upcoming updated Apple TV on September 10th, this number could grow a lot faster. Adding in 4K or Ulta-TV devices with simple app support that get people introduced to streaming media could spark the market even more.

“Roku customers are passionate about streaming, and we are delighted that independent research shows that we are the most popular streaming platform measured by usage on a U.S. household basis,” said Anthony Wood, Founder and CEO, Roku.

Roku’s newest version – the Roku 3 – is a media streaming device and small game console with programs like Angry Birds, Galaga and Pac Man. You can use the remote with Bluetooth headphones for privacy viewing or pull out your iOS or Android device to control the set top box.

This brings a true fight for the TV’s HDMI port.

Video Podcasts Behaving Like TV?

Posted by tomwiles at 1:23 PM on March 18, 2013
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Roku

One of the downsides to Internet-based video content is that generally each new program being played back must be initiated by the user. This isn’t much of a problem if one is watching a full-length movie or television show via Netflix or Amazon Streaming. However, if one is watching short-form content like video podcasts such as “Film Riot” then watching a bunch of episodes in a row tends to be a bit more of a pain since each one must be started playing depending on the playback platform.

I discovered an interesting trick that the Roku is capable of using the free iTunes podcast database app that can be added from the Roku store on your Roku. The app connects with the iTunes podcast database and will display both video and audio podcasts. Select an episode and it will begin to play. If you select an older episode, either video or audio, it will play that episode and then automatically play all episodess that follow it in the correct order.

This is a very useful feature say if you want to catch up with several weeks’ worth of video podcasts. Each podcast plays automatically in the proper order. It is almost like being able to turn video podcast streaming into more of a conventional television viewing experience.

Roku unveils new box and interface

Posted by Alan at 6:09 AM on March 6, 2013

roku 3This morning Roku unveiled its brand new Roku 3 box. This is the first update to the Roku lineup in some time and there are quite a few changes with the Roku 3. The announcement calls it the “fastest, most powerful streaming player to-date”.

The new box, according to Roku’s Jim Funk, is five times faster than previous versions. The new Roku 3 also comes with an all new user interface, as Funk explains — “In the spirit of simplicity, the new Roku interface features a streamlined layout to provide quicker access and greater visibility – especially if you have many channels installed. The Roku Channel Store and Search are now fully integrated into the home screen, and both have been redesigned with our new on-screen experience”.

The new device also comes with a slightly revamped remote control. The remote has a headphone jack and includes a set of earbuds. When these are plugged in, the box automatically switches the audio to the headphones and mutes your speakers, allowing you to move around while listening to your music and also do so without disturbing other household members.

The box also comes with Angry Birds installed and the new remote control is motion sensitive to make for better gaming. There are also dual-band ethernet and USB ports as well.

The Roku 3 is available for $99 starting today. The new interface will begin rolling out to Roku boxes in April.

Roku Streaming Stick

Posted by KL Tech Muse at 10:45 AM on February 8, 2013

Roku Streaming Stick Roku  the maker of digital streaming boxes has released a new model the Roku Streaming Stick. The Roku Streaming Stick is the size of a large USB stick. It provides all the content that is on the full-size Roku, including over 700 music and video channels and games. The Roku Streaming Stick works with TVs that have a MHL(Multiple High-Definition}input. The MHL input powers the Roku so there is no need for a power cable. It also passes the remote control signal from the TV to the Roku stick so you can control the Roku with your TV remote.

Roku is working with about 14 TV manufactures including Hinsense, Sony, LG, Samsung, Toshiba and more. All the TV manufacturers that the Roku Streaming Stick works with are a part of the MHL Consortium. New TVs that are Roku Stick ready will have a sticker on them that say Roku Ready. If you have an older TV you can check the inputs, a MHL input will be purple and have the MHL label below it. A MHL port will also work as a HDMI port.

To use of Roku Stick you simply plug it in. It is WiFi ready so it will recognize your Wi-Fi network once you sign into that and then your Roku account you will be ready to go. The Roku Stick streams up to 1080P HD video. The Roku Streaming stick is $99, and is available through the Roku Website, Amazon and various big box outlets.

Interview by Andy McCaskey of SDR News and RV News Net.

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Popcornflix

Posted by KL Tech Muse at 6:29 AM on February 7, 2013

Popcorn FlixPopcornflix is an ad-supported free streaming feature-length movie platform. They stream independent movies. The ads run about every 8–10 minutes. They are careful to make the user experience the best they can, streaming the movies at the highest quality available.

Popcornflix is available on the Roku, Bravia, iOs platforms including iPad, iPhone and iPod Touch and online through a browser. Popcornflix is one of the fastest growing app on the Roku with over 700,00 downloads in just a 9 month period. They are working out contracts with other platforms included connected TVs.

Screen Media Ventures is the parent company which is a traditional movie distributor. They are self financed and have built their own apps. Working out contracts and building a separate apps  for each platform is one of the biggest problem that Popcornflix has to deal with.

Interview by Todd Cochrane of Geek News Central for the TechPodcast Network and Daniel J Lewis of The Audacity to Podcast

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