Tags Posts tagged with "Roku"

Roku

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What could be done to make a Roku for cord cutters

While a number of products popular with cord cutters have emerged over the past five years none of them are truly a cord cutting solution. There are barriers to entry from price, comfort level and compatibility that prevent users from purchasing one device on its own and stopping. There are multiple programs and types of hardware needed in order to give users a fully functional experience. This story is a part of a new series that will look at how existing companies can address the cord-cutting crowd more directly. The first company we will look at is Roku. Continue to see our Roku Cord Cutting Box Concept.

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PlayOn, a popular service for cord cutters is becoming a great resource for viewers with cable. The service currently offers access to Time Warner and Comcast customers (through it’sXfnity app) by allowing users to connect to the respective companies via their web portals. The services allow users to view live TV content through their providers after they register as users through PlayOn’s settings. The benefit for users is that they are able to access live cable access through set to boxes and forgo the need for extra rental boxes from the cable company. 

I almost never try to compare three things at once because I think that those stories often don’t educate people. But I decided to jump in and give it a shot after an email by a reader. What I have done with Roku 4 Vs Fire TV VS Apple TV is to try to take a look at the devices by focussing on what makes them unique as opposed to relying on buzz terms like ecosystem and focussing on the apps that they have. In this story, we focussed on the top set-top boxes (as far as hardware) from the top 3 players in the industry. It’s quite likely that the top selling Roku model may be the 3 or the quad core stick, but the Roku 4 is the most powerful. I hope this article will help you get to know the best and worst of the devices and help you find the one that is the best fit for your family.

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Roku has been popular with cord cutters for years.

Parks Associates announced its latest findings on the streaming media player market at INTX showing an overall increase in ownership of streaming set-top boxes. At the top of the list is Roku which accounts for 30% of all streaming media player from the first quarter of 2015 to the first quarter of 2016.  It appears Amazon and Google are tied in sales at 22% apiece while Apple TV trails the pack with 20% of streaming device sales. While the fourth place finish may seem disappointing keep in mind that Apple doubled sales of its streamer in 2015 with the launch of the

Roku, Google, Amazon and Apple account for 94% of streaming device sales.
Roku, Google, Amazon and Apple account for 94% of streaming device sales.

4th generation Apple TV. We had reported anecdotal observations that the newer device was selling very well as an accessory to other IOS products and this is the first supported evidence we have seen. It will be interesting to see if the Apple TV continues to rise in popularity enough to overtake Amazon’s Fire TV and the Google Chromecast. 

Roku benefits from multiple models

People use the term Roku as though it is one product when in reality Roku has over half a dozen different devices on the market. Its official website promotes 5 products, The Roku 1, Roku 2, Roku 3, Roku 4 and the quad core Roku stick. But that does not account for older Roku models available at various outlets across the country and via the Internet. There are sure to be a number of retailers selling the previous iteration of the HDMI Roku Streaming Stick and even the previous version of the Roku 3 and others.

Roku’s competition has two Amazon has two products on the market, the Fire Stick and Fire TV (the previous version of the Fire TV has not been easily available for some time). Apple Still sells the third generation Apple TV as an intro product for 69.00, less than half the price of the 4th generation model’s starting price. There are also first generation Google Chromecasts available around the net.

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When the news broke that the cable industry would no longer have a monopoly on set-top boxes to provide cable services a number of consumers cheered the news in the hopes that soon their favorite streaming boxes will be able to substitute for the bulky boxes they have been using for service. While there are mechanisms in place that may allow that to happen like standalone apps and other innovations that may come down the line there are probably a few reasons why both set-top box makers and cable providers are not excited about the future. Should consumers be concerned what may be coming down the line? Will Third Party Set-Top Boxes For Cable Cause More Problems Than They Solve?

Troubleshooting
Third party applications and equipment can be a major issue when it comes to troubleshooting. As much as someone might dislike that say their cable modem or set-top box often come from the cable company you cannot deny that when there is some sort of delivery problem the fact that the equipment can be accessed, explored and reset from remote locations is very helpful. When I have problems with my cable modem and call TWC we can talk about the problem in the same way. “What lights are on?” “What color is the light on the bottom?” “Is it blinking or solid?” This is why, even though I know I get charged for the modem, that I don’t have my own. Because I don’t want to be responsible for fixing it, changing security settings and so on. A perfect example is after a recent trip to New York City we returned to find our Wireless internet connection was disabled. Our devices could no longer see our network. I called TWC and they reset the system, renamed the network, logged in a new password and made sure all of my devices were again connected in about 20 minutes. I can’t imagine how annoying it would have been to trouble shoot everything myself when all I wanted to do was have a coke after a 4-day trip.

Are existing set-top boxes built to handle the service?
When Netflix does not work even though the internet is in full working order the problem is likely one of two things. Either the device you are accessing the service on is not working correctly or there is a problem with the service on the provider end. When I had a problem with my Netflix using a Roku last year I was able to call Netflix. I explained the problem and they knew that there was an existing problem for Roku and fixed it in minutes. Netflix has apps for seemingly everything and is even integrated into some cable boxes these days. But regardless of the number of partners it has the relationship is easy enough to figure out. Now let’s say that every cable provider was responsible for providing an app or some other delivery system for every set-top box available that allowed for full live TV with a full cable grid, on demand capability and so on just like they do on the devices they currently use. We are not talking about an app. It is an ecosystem. And they equipment currently used is built to do this. Is a Roku 1? What about an Amazon Fire TV or a random Android box? No. They are designed to deliver apps. If something is built as a workaround it may provide some level of service but would it work the same on all of the platforms?

When it’s broken where is it broken?
With the current model, providers can tell if their box is not working. They know how to fix it. They can train a staff with less than stunning technical knowhow to walk customers through steps in order to correct a problem without having to be familiar with 10 different devices and operating systems. If people begin to access cable on multiple devices through multiple means it’s quite possible that figuring out a problem is going to be a major headache for all involved. Is something malfunctioning with your modem, is it an app, does the app need to be updated, which Fire TV box are you using the first gen or the second one, does your Roku have a 2 or a 3 on top of it, are you connected with HDMI or the red yellow and white cords, what firmware do you have? The questions can go on forever. And many people are completely unable to answer them because they don’t understand what they have. Anyone who has been drafted by a parent or grandparent understands what I mean here. Right now it can be as easy as the realization that equipment needs to be replaced, an appointment is made and a trained tech comes to a home and installs the equipment correctly and it’s over. In the brave new world of third-party access who knows how a problem gets resolved.

 

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Roku has been popular with cord cutters for years.

Is cord cutting impacting the TV industry. Yes just ask ESPN. The company has lost millions of potential viewers because people have dropped cable in droves losing ESPN in the process. The thing is that there are still over 90 million cable subscribers in the US alone. One of the reactions to interest in cord cutting is Sling TV. The offering has shown that people will pay for a paired down value driven product that eschews the established big bundle in favor of smaller packages of popular channels. As the cable TV industry has started to react to this demand Roku is in an Amazing position as streaming becomes more important to the major media companies.

Roku is a Cord Cutting Device How Is It Good For Cable?
Roku has long worked with cable companies and established properties supporting TV everywhere apps, Dish World, The TWC app and more recently the CBS All Access App. It was also the first device to support HBO Go and Hulu Plus, which are actually Time Warner, Fox Disney and Comcast respectively. With Roku set to be the conduit of a new streaming bundle program by TWC in New York as well as a new streaming service initiative from Charter ” Spectrum TV Stream” both featuring the Roku 3 as its delivery system, the company is putting itself in position to be the establishment pick going forward. Sure There have been obvious cable cutting losses across the pay TV industry. But as much as cord cutters would like to see themselves the face of a smooth stone that will bring down the cable Goliath, it appears that the big boys are ready to get into the streaming game instead of melt away.

Adapt or Die
Time Warner is not going anywhere. It is one of the largest high speed Internet providers in the country at a time when high speed Internet is becoming one of the most important technologies in the world. Comcast too will continue to thrive via Internet based services. With Roku poised as the natural partner of these companies as they begin to offer smaller packages to cord nevers or cord cutters the company stands to gain a great deal of penetration. Better yet if people get accustomed to Roku’s interface they may well keep using the Roku branded products even if they walk away from a cable company based package. Regardless Roku will be selling a lot of product to TWC in the near future. Unless it ends its its partnership with Amazon it will even have access to the much talked about Prime Instant Video expansion that has been bandied about without any actual details up to now. If Time Warner Cable and Charter expand their programs on a national level Roku will become a much bigger force in the market than it is today while still being a popular landing place for so many of the applications embraced by those who would sooner get a tattoo on their eye than sign up for cable.

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Roku's can mirror Windows and Android devices.

The Roku 3 and Roku HDMI Streaming Stick both feature Roku’s beta mirroring feature. The functionality of the feature varies from one phone, tablet and computer to another. Part of the reason for this is because this is a beta feature. That means that everyone who does have access to the feature is really an unpaid tester. When Roku mirroring first became a reality the company went as far as to announce a limited group of devices that were guaranteed to utilize the feature correctly. My guess is that it is what the people who tested it at the Roku offices had on hand at the time. When the next model arrives there should be a more consistent experience. Here is how they can provide one.

Give mirroring its own section on the home screen
At the moment in order  to access the mirroring feature on a Roku 3 or streaming stick there is a multi-step process to do so. Go to Settings, scroll to System, Select Mirroring, select Enable Screen mirroring. And that’s just on the Roku. Accessing the feature currently requires quite a bit more work on either a computer or wireless device. A simple category on the home menu would make this a lot more simple. Especially for new users.

Roku have an app for mirroring?
If I want to share my PC display on a Chromecast I know where to start. I click on the Chromecast button on the chrome browser. This option was not there when I first got the Chromecast but I was instructed to add it. One simple download later I had instant access to screen mirroring with my PC. In order to do the same thing with I must first swipe the right side of my screen, Select devices, select project, and select add wireless display, then my computer has to find the Roku. Finally I can select the Roku and begin mirroring. That is a great deal of work compared to the couple of steps required by its competitors. Apple TV requires only that you turn on Mirroring and have an Apple TV, TV. The Fire TV has not pushed screen mirroring on a wide spread basis yet.

On Screen Instructions
When someone wants to mirror with a Roku they typically start with a web search. And who knows what they will find when they do so? If they are not going to make it less complicated to use the feature then Roku should build in help videos or on screen instructions that explain how to access the feature. Simple step by step instructions. That is not only helpful for its customers it is the kind of thing that the tech media would probably never stop talking about.

Ryan Michael Downey

One of the easiest ways to watch American TV stations online is a service called USTV Now. The service, which is available via its home page as well as through apps for XBMC and a private channel

US TV Now Provides US TV Channels Online
US TV Now Provides US TV Channels Online

for Roku allows users to watch an American based cable package overseas. Viewers using the service via a browser can access the basic networks; CBS, NBC, ABC, CW, Fox and PBS for free. Apple TV users can access the service via mirroring and a compatible laptop or IOS device.

Server adds many options popular with XBMC

Originally Published 1/2014

If you own a streaming device or have been considering purchasing one you have probably noticed there are multiple services free and paid to look in to but very few that offer access to recently aired material and even less that provide entertainment from cable channels. PlayOn is a service that allows users to watch TV shows and movies from multiple websites on their televisions through neatly packaged channels.

PlayOn Adds new channels to multiple devices.
PlayOn Adds new channels to multiple devices.

Nearly every TV channel has a website. Whether it is ABC, HBO, ESPN, A&E and everything in between. Each of these websites has video content and often full episodes of popular series, sometimes web exclusives and in other cases a collection of clips and interviews featuring the power players of an individual series. Each of these sites are accessible via a computer and users without PlayOn can bookmark the sites for later viewing, but finding all of the sites that have free video content and collecting them in one place can take a lot of time and energy. That’s where PlayOn comes in.

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Device continues to gain notoriety

Streaming device manufacturer Roku is becoming a household name. Its official blog and website announced today that Roku tops 10 million units sold and that number should only increase with Roku TV’s rolling out to major retailers this fall. In six years the product has evolved from a device designed to deliver Netflix’s fledgling (at the time) streaming services directly to televisions. The company was one of the pioneers of streaming and unlike Boxee, which was bought out by Samsung, and many others it has found a way to flourish through innovations such as itsTop 10 Roku Cities expansive channel store, multiple models and price points along and a lead from the front mentality. The company, though popular with cord cutters has managed to build a comfortable relationship with broadcast and cable networks which has helped it build partnerships with multiple media distribution companies and was one of the first to offer the now very popular HBO-Go service.

Roku Announces Top 10 cities for Roku use in the US (Top five listed rest were not given rankings)
1. The Bay Area of California
2. Washington DC
3. Seattle-Tacoma WA
4. Atlanta, GA
5. Phoenix, Az
Next Five
Raleigh, NC
Charlotte, NC
Boston, MA
Salt Lake City, UT
Austin, TX