Roku Bows 4K Plans, Expands Branded TVs5 Jan, 2015 By: Erik Gruenwedel
Roku Jan. 5 announced plans to support 4K Ultra-HD streaming — the new high-definition format with four-times the resolution of 1080p. The streaming media device manufacturer will begin selling branded Haier televisions in the third quarter, in addition to distributing Roku TVs at Best Buy under the consumer electronics retailer’s proprietary Insignia brand.
Saratoga, Calif.-based Roku made the announcement in Las Vegas in advance of the 2015 Consumer Electronics Show from Jan. 6-9. Roku TVs connect to the Internet via the Roku Streaming Stick included with each unit.
Roku said it has prepared a reference design for 4K smart TVs for licensing to TV OEM partners. TV manufacturer TCL, which released TCL Roku TV models last year, is an initial partner to build 4K models. In addition, Roku is working with Netflix to provide 4K content for streaming on the Roku platform.
“As one of the first streaming services to offer 4K Ultra-HD content to our customers, it’s important for Netflix to work closely with partners like Roku to give consumers more streaming options,” Neil Hunt, chief product officer of Netflix, said in a statement.
Roku in 2014 launched its first branded TVs through Chinese manufacturers TCL and Hisense featuring more than 2,000 third-party content channels, including transactional VOD and electronic sellthrough. The TVs also feature remote operability of video game consoles, cable set-top boxes and connected Blu-ray Disc players.
Roku will release 12 new TCL Roku TV models in the first half of the year. The updated Roku TVs feature new hardware designs.
Meanwhile, Roku partnered with Chinese-based Haier Group to roll out a series of branded Roku TV models in the first quarter. The Haier Roku TV 4 Series Smart LED TVs will be available in sizes ranging from 32-inches to 65-inches. The 40-inch to 65-inch models will come with Full HD resolution and enhanced sound quality, with superior dampening, improved mid-range response, cleaner and deeper bass, as well as overall richer sound texture.
"Haier is focused on delivering an immersive entertainment experience, and the new Haier Roku TV models provide the ultimate streaming experience for our customers," John Homlish, SVP of Haier America’s digital living business unit, said in a statement.
Roku also announced that this spring consumers will be able to purchase Roku TVs manufactured by Insignia and available for purchase exclusively at Best Buy and BestBuy.com.
“Insignia is an outstanding TV brand and combining its TV design with Roku’s powerful OS, content relationships and software expertise will provide Insignia customers with the best smart TV experience available at an affordable price,” Chas Smith, GM of OEM for Roku, said in a statement.