Roku has launched its third-generation set-top box, the Roku 3. While the Roku 3 packs a similar features to its predecessor, the Roku 2 XS, the new Roku comes with a much user-friendly interface, search function, and will be much faster and more responsive. Here are the top 10 facts you need to know about the new Roku 3 set-top box.(Photo Credit: Roku)
1.The Roku 3 Can Support Up to 1080p Video
Like everything else coming out today, Roku supports high definition video of up to 1080p. Originally supported only on the Roku 2 XD, 1080p HD video on the Roku 3 will only be available on HDTVs, which was previously accessible on virtually any TV on the Roku 2 XD. 1080p video is viewable both over HDMI and on dual-band Wi-Fi a/b/g/n.
2.Roku 3 Has Dual-band Wireless Connectivity
In addition to supporting Ethernet and USB ports, Roku 3 wireless connectivity means that you can link to the nearest Wi-Fi and streaming content from the Internet without having to fumble with cables if you have speeds of 1.5Mbps and above. The set-top box supports dual-band Wi-Fi a/b/g/n. Only on Roku 3 devices will you find a combination of Wi-Fi and Ethernet on the same set top box.
3.The Roku 3 Has a New Interface
The new interface will stand out the most. Navigating the channel store, apps and settings is much easier and smoother compared to the previous set-top box. Replacing the giant list of horizontal icons, the new Roku interface offers a right-left navigation and selection option giving users a spatial sense of place within the navigation trees. Sliding over the menu gives drill-down detailed view. Clicking into the right-hand menu converts it into a left-hand menu. The overall result is a much cleaner interface that shows more content and results in fewer clicks during navigation compared to the previous interface. The new user interface will be available as a firmware update to current-generation Roku devices such as Roku HD, Roku 2 XD and the Roku Streaming Stick.
4.Roku 3 Comes With a Universal Search Feature
Roku has added a universal search feature that allows you to find your content quickly across multiple apps. You can now search through TV shows, movies and other content all the way through video on-demand services like Netlix and Amazon Premium content. By combining virtually every online streaming service available under one umbrella, the cross-service search application is now part of the core functionality of Roku 3. Before you only search on a channel by channel basis and no more. By having one central search feature, it makes for a more a seamless experience where you can locate and watch your favorite shows without having to worry from which service they are being streamed.
5. The Roku 3 Has a MicroSD Slot for Extra Storage
Compared to its predecessor, the Roku 2 XS, the new Roku 3 is a bit smaller and slightly curvier. The back panel contains the Ethernet port, a microSD slot, a power plug and the HDMI output. The box also spots a USB port on the side for limited digital-media playback. One notable feature that was on its predecessor, the Roku 2 XS, the standard-def AV output is missing but still survives on other Roku devices including the Roku 2 XD. The box uses an external AC adapter rather than an integrated power supply.
6.The Remote Has Motion Sensing Technology
The new updated remote control includes motion gestures for gaming. Using Wi-Fi Direct rather than Bluetooth, the new remote control now allows you to use gestures to play the new offering of video games including Angry Birds, Jeopardy and Wheel of Fortune. With a simple flick of your write and game-ready buttons that offer button mashing functionalities, you can now play games while taking a break from watching movies.
7. Roku 3 Will Have Over 750 Channels
With more than 750 channels of content, the new and powerful Roku streaming player gives you access to movies, TV shows, music and games in 1080p HD playback. Some of the more recent additions include the TWC TV, Blockbuster on Demand and iHeartRadio. Other channels expected to be available on the set-top box soon include Fox Now, PBS and PBS Kids. You also have free entertainment options like Pandora, Disney, VEO and Crackle including international programming, radio, podcasts, cartoons, clips, news, all of these with the new Roku set top box.
8. Roku 3 Features Private-listening Mode
This new feature allows you to plug a pair of headphones into the remote control’s headphone jack and listen in on your content. Once you plug in your headphones, the TV automatically mutes. You can adjust the headphone volume using the rocker on the remote. Once you unplug the headphones, the TV volume resumes to where it was prior to plugging them in. This is a great feature for late-night viewing when you don’t need to wake everybody up in the house when watching your favorite shows. In addition, Roku encourages the use of the headphones by including a pair of earbuds in the box when you purchase Roku 3.
9. Roku’s Consumer Products Line-Up Includes a Network Music Player Called SoundBridge
Roku’s consumer products line-up includes a network music player called SoundBridge. SoundBridge is a network music player with built-in speakers and includes a subwoofer. There is an AM-FM receiver, preset buttons, an SD slot, a volume-ramping alarm clock and a system for displaying high definition television images and streaming video called PhotoBridge HD1000.
10. The Roku 3 is Available Now
The Roku 3 set top box is available immediately from Amazon and Roku’s online store at the starting price of $99. It will be available to retail stores from April.
While Roku 2 XS was an excellent set top box, Roku 3 is a much more polished streaming box that comes close to what Apple TV has to offer. It is therefore no surprise that Roku 3 will be looking to bite a chunk of Apple TVs market share for current Apple users looking for alternative options to what they currently have. Roku 3 will no doubt be an attractive package considering the massive content now available.