Roku TV Debuts at CES6 Jan, 2014 By: Chris Tribbey
LAS VEGAS — More than one consumer electronics company at the International Consumer Electronics Show (CES) broke their news before the show even began, and none had bigger news to share than Roku.
The content streaming company announced it’s launching its own line of branded TVs, pre-loaded with Roku’s software, which offers more than 31,000 movies and 1,200 channels.
“We’ve applied the same principles that have made Roku the most popular streaming players in America to TVs,” Anthony Wood, Roku’s founder and CEO, wrote in a blog post. “Roku TV removes all of the complicated layers and menus, and unnecessary features and settings that plague smart TVs today, and instead provides a Roku home screen that brings together all content sources.”
TCL and Hisense will be the first TV manufacturers to produce Roku TVs, which will be available ranging from 32 to 55 inches starting this fall. Rollout of a branded TV is what separates Roku TV from Google TV — the latter a smart-TV software platform integrated by TV manufacturers, including TCL and Hisense. Roku would also appear to equal Apple, which has long been rumored to be readying a line of smart TVs.
Indeed, an analyst with Advanced Research Japan in October said Apple was working with Samsung to roll out a line of 55-inch and 65-inch 4KTVs in the Fall.
Wood added that the Roku TV remotes would feature half the buttons of other TVs, and that the TVs can be navigated using iOS and Android Devices that have the Roku app installed.
Roku’s big news to start 2014 follows a banner year for the company, which saw it approach the eight million mark for players sold in America, grow total streaming hours on Roku players by 70% to 1.7 billion hours, and add services such as M-Go, Watch ESPN and YouTube.
“We accomplished a ton in 2013, but we’re looking forward to accomplishing even more in 2014,” Wood wrote. “With streaming on TV more popular than ever and terminology like ‘bingeing’ and ‘marathoning’ now mainstream verbs that have nothing to do with eating or running, it’s a great time to be a TV lover and it’s a great time for Roku.”
Panasonic, Samsung, Sony and Toshiba have partnered to make 4K content easier to access and move around.
Their technology — SeeQVault — allows high-def and 4K content to be moved between devices regardless of storage capacity, data caps, broadband access and bandwidth restrictions.
“SeeQVault creates exciting new opportunities and business models for the consumer electronics, mobile devices and IT industries, as well as for creators and distributors of High-Definition/4K Ultra-High-Definition content,” said Victor Matsuda, head of NSM Initiatives, which is overseeing implementation of the technology. “It opens new possibilities for users interested in viewing HD/4K UHD content on any screen, from four inches to 4K. Moreover, it is a critical element in completing the ‘digital bridge’ between current devices, 4K UHD playback devices, UHD TV and the exploding mobile market.”
Designed to be used on flash-based memory devices that incorporate USB memory or SD Card slots, SeeQVault enables secure playback and transfer of high-def and 4K content across both mobile and in-home devices. NSM promises that the technology will be backwards compatible with current consumer electronic devices.
“The new trend on the most advanced next-generation smartphones and tablets is the inclusion of 4K UHD and full HD capable displays, driving consumer desire to conveniently transport and consume high definition content on the go," said Daniel DG Lee, VP of memory product planning and application engineering for Samsung Electronics. “This represents a considerable market for content creators and providers, and we therefore expect SeeQVault media to receive a lot of attention from the massive Android installed base.”
SeeQVault-enabled products were first released in Japan in 2013.
Nam Do wants to change the definition of “smart TV.”
The co-founder and CEO of start-up SeeSpace is behind the InAiR, a $99 HDMI device that, in conjunction with an iOS or Android device, pulls up Internet information relevant to live programming and puts it side by side with the content on HDTVs.
“Viewers don’t want to watch TV in isolation any more,” Do said. “They want context: graphics, information and social engagement. Today, there is no easy way to display this content without the second screen. We had to crack both the design and the technical challenges to deliver InAiR … it makes use of the entire viewing space in front of the TV, and creates a new medium of combined media like nothing people have interacted with before.”
Do is aiming to have the InAiR in stores by this fall.
More consumers using more devices means more demand for storage. That’s where companies like Seagate Technology come in.
“As storage becomes an increasingly integral part of everything we do, the established ideas about it must change,” said Scott Horn, VP of marketing for Seagate. “To keep pace with changing needs and demands, we have to remove limits around design, function, form and features.”
Seagate debuted a 4TB portable drive, the Backup Plus Fast, aimed especially at filmmakers working with 4K. The device comes with a mobile, cloud-based backup app, which protects content on smartphones and tablets.
Seagate — partnering with soon-to-be-acquired French company LaCie — also showed off the Sphère, a round, silver-plated steel ball that holds 1TB of data, and announced it would be expanding availability of its rescue data protection plan to Staples stores in the United States, and NCIX and Canada Computer in Canada.
Lastly, the company is partnering with PC manufacturer Lenovo to deliver Yoga2, a laptop hybrid tablet using Seagate technology.