Roku officially unveiled its third-generation streaming device Thursday night. The streaming box, simply dubbed Roku 3, comes with a new user interface as well as a remote control that features a headphone jack for private listening. It will go on sale immediately for $100 on Roku’s website and Amazon.com, and find its way to retailers in April.
The device’s new UI should help a lot with content discovery. Finding new channels had become a bit of a challenge on existing Roku device as the company grew its number of content partners to a total of 750. Check out a demo of the new UI in this company-provided video below:
The addition of a headphone jack for the remote control is a more curious choice. Roku hopes that the feature will help consumers who want to watch TV without disturbing others — but one could argue that consumers have already made their iPads the viewing device of choice for that kind of use case.
Roku has said that the new UI will come to second-generation devices next month. Speaking of existing products: A company spokesperson told me that Roku intends to continue to sell the Roku LT, Roku HD, Roku 2 XD and Roku 2 XS devices alongside the new Roku 3 as well as the streaming stick.
The launch of the Roku 3 was a bit of an open secret: Not only had the device cleared the FCC last month, but a Roku customer service representative told gadget blogger Dave Zatz a few days ago that it was going to launch this week.
One feature still absent from the device is the ability to mirror content from PCs and mobile devices in an AirPlay-like fashion. We reported last week that Broadcom has been touting Roku as a partner for its Miracast wireless streaming technology, with a Broadcom spokesperson confirming that the hardware of the recently-introduced Roku Streaming Stick was Miracast-capable.
Roku didn’t want to comment about Miracast at the time and didn’t mention the technology in its Roku 3 press material. However, both the Streaming Stick and the new Roku 3 support Wi-Fi Direct, a technology Miracast is based on, so we shouldn’t be too surprised to see both get a Miracast update some time in the near future.
This story was corrected Wednesday 10:00 am with the following information: Roku’s hardware partner is Broadcom, not Qualcomm.