Introducing Roku 2: A tiny video streaming box with a tinier price(Read article summary)
Roku fits new features and a flock of Angry Birds into their latest line of Roku 2 video streaming boxes. Will motion gaming help sell the $60 Roku box?
Roku, a company that produces boxes that stream web content to televisions, announced today that it is unveiling a new lineup of devices that feature games and motion controllers.
The companyâ€™s flagship title at launch is Angry Birds, a game that has already collected tens of millions of users. The controller is similar to the Wii MotionPlus controller from Nintendo. Instead of using infrared light to track a motion controller, it uses an internal set of components that track the controllerâ€™s orientation. That means the box will register a move to the left or right when you flick the controller.
The device is designed to power 3D graphics. I got to try out Angry Birds on the device (in the video below â€” Iâ€™m not that great at it) and the graphics felt a little sluggish. But given that itâ€™s streaming 1080p video from a tiny box to a huge television, that might be par for the course. The device is powered by a system-on-a-chip architecture, so it doesnâ€™t carry the same oomph that a PlayStation 3 or a Xbox 360 does.
The controller felt very responsive â€” on par with the Wii MotionPlus controller. It felt like what was happening on-screen was more or less one-to-one with whatever I was doing with the controller.
The company plans to aggressively add game content to the Roku 2 box. That includes the likes of Pac-Man: Championship Edition and other games from Namco, and more versions of Angry Birds. The company is mostly focusing on casual games that people can just â€śpick up and play.â€ť
Itâ€™s a new step for a company that has traditionally focused on streaming videos and movies to the TV. Roku was spun out of Netflix three years ago and given the directive to create a box that could stream Netflix content directly to a television. But the company still intends to focus on Netflix as the deviceâ€™s flagship app.
The devices are powered by traditional AA or AAA batteries, depending on the model you choose, or a power cable. They are about 3 inches across by 3 inches long, and about an inch deep. Each model has a bold embossing of its model name â€” the â€śXD,â€ť â€śHDâ€ť or â€śXS.â€ť The devices are connected to the Internet wirelessly, though the top-level device features a traditional broadband port.
The base-line model costs $60, but doesnâ€™t include a game remote and only supports 720p HD video quality. The next step up, the Roku XD, costs $80 and includes Netflix title streaming and supports 1080p HD video quality streaming. Only when you buy the $100 model, though, do you get a game remote (and a â€śfreeâ€ť full version of Angry Birds).
Each box consumes around 5 watts of power. Thatâ€™s compared to DVR devices â€” which are known to be electricity vampires â€” that consume around 30 watts and a PlayStation 3 that consumes around 130 watts at full speed. All three devices feature 256 megabytes of storage with a micro-SD card expansion slot for additional memory.
The company has sold around 1 million Roku boxes to date. You can check out a video of a hands-on experience with the device after the break.