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Summary:

Roku’s got some new hardware just in time for the holiday season. The features don’t surprise, but the refresh might nonetheless help to sell some extra boxes.

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Roku launched three new devices Wednesday, updating its mid-tier and budget-priced products with a more modern look, updated chipsets and a few new features. The company also announced a partnership with M-Go, the digital video service backed by Dreamworks and Technicolor, which will lead to a deep integration of M-Go’s video catalog into Roku’s platform.

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Roku’s three new streaming devices — called Roku 1, Roku 2 and Roku LT — feature the same rounded hockey-puck look that the company first introduced with the launch of the Roku 3 earlier this year. Aside from looks, here’s what the three devices have to offer, and how they compare to Roku’s previous-generation hardware:

  • The new Roku LT replaces the old Roku LT, and the specs are pretty much the same as well: It features HDMI and composite out, plays videos with up to 720p HD and comes with on-board Wi-Fi but no Ethernet port. The remote control now features shortcut buttons for Amazon, M-Go, Netflix and, yes, Blockbuster. The Roku LT sells for $50, and is only available online.
  • The Roku 1 replaces the old Roku HD, and the biggest update is that it now also supports 1080p HD. Otherwise the specs look once again very similar: Wi-Fi but no Ethernet, HDMI and composite out and a standard remote control with branded shortcut buttons. The Roku 1 sells for $60.
  • The Roku 2 replaces the old Roku 2XD, and the biggest change here is that the device now also comes with a remote control with a headphone plug, something that’s so far only been available with the Roku 3. That remote is RF, so you won’t be able to play any games that require a motion sensor with the Roku 2. There’s no composite out and also no Ethernet port, and the device sells for $80
  • The Roku 3, which the company first introduced in March, stays the same (1080p, Wi-Fi and Ethernet, gaming remote) and still costs $100.

M-GO TV

Roku also introduced a notable new feature to its software: Roku users now have access to dedicated categories for movies and TV shows from their device’s home screen. However, don’t look for Hulu show listings in these categories. Both only offer access to titles from M-Go’s catalog. Such an exclusive partnership may make sense for Roku as it probably didn’t come cheap for M-Go, but one has to wonder whether Roku users are really served well by this.

Aside from that, Roku’s new devices represent a modest refresh of its product line. There aren’t many surprises, but the optical refresh alone should help Roku to make some extra sales during this coming holiday season.

  1. Sweet! Time to upgrade

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  2. Why the hell did they introduce a fancy new remote with shortcuts for the cheaper three models but shaft the Roku 3?! I was just about to purchase a Roku 3 (to replace my 2) until I noticed this shortcoming. Seams really stupid. Unless they are planning on releasing a new 3 soon, in which case I guess I’ll just have to wait…

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