Roku Refreshes Lineup as Google, Apple Ramp Up Competition
Facing increased competition from Google and Apple, Roku is trying to stay in the streaming game by refreshing its products without raising prices.
The company announced that it’s giving its lineup of set-top boxes, which stream video from the Internet to your TV, a facelift, as well as making it easier to purchase new releases and popular TV shows.
The announcement comes as Roku faces fierce streaming competition from some of the biggest tech companies.
Apple TV continues to add apps for premium channels, and is selling better than ever. Chromecast, the $35 Google streaming stick that puts Netflix, YouTube and your Internet browser on TV, sold so well after it was announced in July the product was backordered for months and Google had to end a promotional partnership with Netflix just one day after the device went on sale.
Lloyd Klarke, Roku’s director of product management, said in an interview that Roku sales actually got “a bump” after Chromecast was introduced.
Roku is refreshing three of its four streaming boxes, leaving alone only its flagship Roku 3, which went on sale in April for $99. Aside from improvement to video quality and Wi-Fi range on less expensive Roku models, most of the change is cosmetic; the three new set-top boxes — named Roku LT, Roku 1 and Roku 2 — look less boxy and more curved, like the Roku 3.
The most significant change is the addition of a headphone jack built into the remote control of the $79 Roku 2, a feature that up to now was only available on the $99 Roku 3. This allows people to listen to whatever is on TV by plugging headphones into the wireless remote. This feature is great for those who want to watch TV while another person is asleep, working or listening to something else.