Roku

Last updated on 28 May 2017

The Roku Streaming Player, or simply Roku (/ˈroʊkuː/ ROH-koo), is a series of digital media player set-top boxes manufactured by Roku, Inc. Roku partners provide over-the-top content in the form of channels. The name comes from the Japanese word roku(六) meaning "six" and was named so because it was the sixth company that Anthony Wood (CEO 2002-) started. A Roku streaming device gets data (the video stream) via a wired or Wi-Fi connection to an Internet router. The data is output via an audio cable, video cable, or HDMI cable. The device can be connected to any television set (or other video display device) with appropriate input connections.

Content is available from services such as Amazon Cloud Player, Amazon Video, Ameba TV, BBC iPlayer, CBS All Access, Crunchyroll, Google Play Movies & TV, Hasbro Studios, HBO Go, Hulu, MLB.TV, Netflix, Now TV (UK only), Pandora Radio, SiriusXM, PBS, PlayStation Vue, Showtime, Tubi TV, Sling TV, EuroRoku, TheBlaze, Time Warner Cable, VMedia, Xfinity, Vudu, WWE Network, YouTube, Tablo (DVR), and the ITV Hub.

Roku Streaming Players

First generation

Roku XDS with Remote.jpg
Original form factor XD/S

Roku announced the first Netflix Internet video streaming receiver box—the Roku DVP—on May 20, 2008. The device runs Linux. Before Autumn 2010, three versions of the Roku DVP were available: the Roku SD, HD, and HD-XR. The Roku SD only streams standard definition (SD) content. The Roku HD streams both SD and HD (720p) content. The Roku SD and HD both have an Ethernet connection and built in 802.11g Wi‑Fi compatible with wireless b, g, and n routers. The Roku HD-XR, which streams both SD and HD (720p and 1080p) content, has built in dual-band 802.11n WiFi support and a USB port on the back.

Roku revamped its lineup of devices in September 2010. The revised HD became the basic model of the line, offering 720p resolution, 802.11g WiFi reception, and an HDMI output. The middle of the line model, the XD, added 1080p resolution (if channel programmers provide it), an enhanced remote with replay capabilities, and single-band wireless-n WiFi. The top-level XD|S offered component video and optical audio outputs, dual-band wireless N, and a USB port for playing videos, photos, and music.

Second generation

Roku 2 XS.jpg
A Roku 2 XS

On July 20, 2011, Roku updated its product lineup with three new boxes. However, the Ethernet connection and remote with motion control for games are available only on the XS model. The Roku Game Remote uses Hillcrest Labs' Freespace motion control technology, so users can control games with natural gestures. The Netflix application was revamped for the Roku 2 HD, Roku 2 XD and Roku 2 XS; the current models now provide the option of subtitles, when the program provides them.

On October 11, 2011, the Roku LT was introduced as a lower cost, stripped down version of the Roku 2 XS. I/O consists of two AV ports, one HDMI, and one 3.5" mini plug composite SD analog. The same content capability is available, except it cannot play games, and its highest video resolution is 720p. There is no Ethernet port nor microSD card slot.

The feature "Roku Search" was added on October 29, 2012. This feature allows users to search movie and TV show titles, actors, and directors for multiple services on Roku such as Amazon Video, HBO Go, and Netflix. The feature is only available on Roku 2, Roku Streaming Stick, Roku LT, and Roku HD, due to technical constraints on earlier models. This feature appears to only work in the USA.

On May 14, 2013, an updated software interface was released for second generation Roku units. This is the same interface that was introduced with the release of their third generation player.

On July 26, 2013, BSkyB launched a Now TV-branded Roku LT, allowing users to stream Now TV content to their television, as well as access content from BBC iPlayer, Demand 5, Spotify, and Sky News.

Third generation

On March 5, 2013, Roku announced the release of their updated media player, Roku 3, with a faster CPU than the Roku 2 XS, and a Wi-Fi Direct remote instead of Bluetooth. The Roku 3 remote includes a headphone jack (with headphones provided) for a private listening mode.

Roku announced two new versions of its streaming set-top boxes, for 2015: Roku 3 (2015) has a new remote control, with a microphone for voice search, and the Roku 2 (2015) has a much faster processor than the old Roku 2, but its remote control no longer has a headphone jack built in. The Roku 3 2015 model number is 4230R; the 2014 model number is 4200R. The Roku 2 2015 model number is 4210R the previous model number was 2720R. The naming scheme has caused some confusion among consumers.

Fourth generation

On October 6, 2015, Roku officially announced the release of the Roku 4. The new device has 4K video streaming capability, a remote control finder, and updated software (Roku OS 7) and hardware that includes support for Wi-Fi 802.11ac. The Roku 4 began shipping in October 2015.

Fifth generation

On September 26, 2016, Roku revamped their entire streaming player line-up with 5 new models (low end Roku Express, Roku Express+; high end Roku Premiere, Roku Premiere+ and Roku Ultra), while retaining the released in April new Streaming Stick #3600 as a sixth option. The Roku Premiere+ and Roku Ultra will support HDR video using HDR10.

Feature comparison

Model Introduced Discontinued Video outputs Video resolutions Audio output Network USB Remote Processor Memory Channel storage micro
SD
slot
Netflix with Profiles
Composite,
S-Video
Component, HDMI 480i, 480p 720p, 1080p 4k Analog Optical, HDMI Ethernet 802.11
wireless
First generation
Roku DVP (N1000) May 2008 Oct 2009 Both Both Both 720p No Yes Both Yes b/g No IR PNX8935 400 MHz 256 MB 64 MB No No
Roku SD (N1050) Oct 2009 Sep 2010 Composite Neither 480i Neither No Yes Neither Yes b/g No IR PNX8935 400 MHz 256 MB 64 MB No No
Roku HD (N1100) Nov 2009 Sep 2010 Both Both Both 720p No Yes Both Yes b/g No IR PNX8935 400 MHz 256 MB 64 MB No No
Roku HD-XR (N1101) Oct 2009 Sep 2010 Both Both Both Both No Yes Both Yes a/b/g/n dual-band Yes IR PNX8935 400 MHz 256 MB 256 MB No No
Roku HD (2000) Sep 2010 Jul 2011 Composite HDMI Both 720p No Yes HDMI Yes b/g No IR PNX8935 400 MHz 256 MB 64 MB No No
Roku XD (2050) Sep 2010 Jul 2011 Composite HDMI Both Both No Yes HDMI Yes b/g/n No IR PNX8935 400 MHz 256 MB 64 MB No No
Roku XDS (2100) Sep 2010 Jul 2011 Composite Both Both Both No Yes Both Yes a/b/g/n dual-band Yes IR PNX8935 400 MHz 256 MB 256 MB No No
Second generation
Model Introduced Discontinued Video outputs Video resolutions Audio output Network USB Remote Processor Memory Channel storage micro
SD
slot
Netflix with Profiles
Composite,
S-Video
Component, HDMI 480i, 480p 720p, 1080p 4k Analog Optical, HDMI Ethernet 802.11
wireless
Roku LT (2400) Nov 2011 Apr 2012 Composite HDMI Both 720p No Yes HDMI No b/g/n No IR BCM2835 600 MHz 256 MB 256 MB No No
Roku LT (2450) Apr 2012 Sep 2013 Composite HDMI Both 720p No Yes HDMI No b/g/n No IR BCM7208 405 MHz 256 MB 256 MB No No
Roku HD (2500) Apr 2012 Sep 2013 Composite HDMI Both 720p No Yes HDMI No b/g/n No IR BCM7208 405 MHz 256 MB 256 MB No No
Roku 2 HD (3000) Jul 2011 Apr 2012 Composite HDMI Both 720p No Yes HDMI No b/g/n No IR BCM2835 600 MHz 256 MB 256 MB Yes No
Roku 2 XD (3050) Jul 2011 Sep 2013 Composite HDMI Both Both No Yes HDMI No b/g/n No IR BCM2835 600 MHz 256 MB 256 MB Yes No
Roku 2 XS (3100) Jul 2011 Mar 2013 Composite HDMI Both Both No Yes HDMI Yes b/g/n Yes IR, Bluetooth BCM2835 600 MHz 256 MB 256 MB Yes No
Roku Streaming Stick, MHL (3400, 3420) Oct 2012 Apr 2016 Neither MHL only 480p Both No No HDMI No b/g/n dual-band No Wi-Fi Direct BCM2835 600 MHz 256 MB 512 MB No No
Roku Streaming Stick, HDMI (3500) Mar 2014 Apr 2016 Neither HDMI Neither Both No No HDMI No a/b/g/n dual-band No Wi-Fi Direct BCM2835 600 MHz 512 MB 256 MB No Yes
Third generation
Model Introduced Discontinued Video outputs Video resolutions Audio output Network USB Remote Processor Memory Channel storage micro
SD
slot
Netflix
with
Profiles
Composite,
S-Video
Component, HDMI 480i, 480p 720p, 1080p 4k Analog Optical, HDMI Ethernet 802.11
wireless
Roku LT (2700) Sep 2013 Mar 2014 Composite HDMI Both 720p No Yes HDMI No b/g/n No IR BCM7218 600 MHz 512 MB 256 MB No No
Roku 1, SE (2710) Sep 2013 Oct 2016 Composite HDMI Both Both No Yes HDMI No b/g/n No IR BCM7218 600 MHz 512 MB 256 MB No No
Roku 2 (2720) Sep 2013 Apr 2015 Composite HDMI Both Both No Yes & Remote HDMI No a/b/g/n dual-band No IR, Wi-Fi Direct BCM7218 600 MHz 512 MB 256 MB No No
Roku 3 (4200) Mar 2013 Apr 2015 Neither HDMI Neither Both No Remote HDMI Yes a/b/g/n dual-band Yes IR, Wi-Fi Direct BCM11130 900 MHz 512 MB 256 MB Yes Yes
Roku 2 (4210) Apr 2015 Oct 2016 Neither HDMI Neither Both No No HDMI Yes a/b/g/n dual-band Yes IR BCM11130 900 MHz 512 MB 256 MB Yes Yes
Roku 3 (4230) Apr 2015 Oct 2016 Neither HDMI Neither Both No Remote HDMI Yes a/b/g/n dual-band Yes IR, Wi-Fi Direct, Voice Search BCM11130 900 MHz 512 MB 256 MB Yes Yes
Fourth generation
Model Introduced Discontinued Video outputs Video resolutions Audio output Network USB Remote Processor Memory Channel storage micro
SD
slot
Netflix
with
Profiles
Composite,
S-Video
Component, HDMI 480i, 480p 720p, 1080p 4k Analog Optical, HDMI Ethernet 802.11
wireless
Roku Streaming Stick (3600) Apr 2016 Available Neither HDMI Neither Both No Stream to smartphone HDMI No a/b/g/n dual-band No Wi-Fi Direct BCM2836 900 MHz 512 MB 256 MB No Yes
Roku 4 (4400) Oct 2015 Oct 2016 Neither HDMI Neither Both Yes Remote Optical & HDMI Yes, 10/100 Mbps a/b/g/n/ac dual-band Yes IR, Wi-Fi Direct, Voice Search STV7723A01 1.5 GB 512 MB Yes Yes
Fifth generation
Model Introduced Discontinued Video outputs Video resolutions Audio output Network USB Remote Processor Memory Channel storage micro
SD
slot
Netflix
with
Profiles
Composite,
S-Video
Component, HDMI 480i, 480p 720p, 1080p 4k Analog Optical, HDMI Ethernet 802.11
wireless
Roku Express (3700) Oct 2016 Available Neither HDMI Neither Both No Stream to smartphone HDMI No b/g/n No IR MIPS 900 MHz 512 MB 256 MB No Yes
Roku Express+ (3710) Oct 2016 Available Composite HDMI 480p Both No Yes & Stream to smartphone HDMI No b/g/n No IR MIPS 900 MHz 512 MB 256 MB No Yes
Roku Premiere (4620) Oct 2016 Available Neither HDMI Neither Both Yes Stream to smartphone HDMI No a/b/g/n/ac dual-band No IR ARM Cortex A53 quad core 1.2 GHz 1 GB 512 MB No Yes
Roku Premiere+ (4630) Oct 2016 Available Neither HDMI Neither Both Yes Remote & Stream to smartphone HDMI Yes, 10/100 Mbps a/b/g/n/ac dual-band No IR, Wi-Fi Direct ARM Cortex A53 quad core 1.2 GHz 1 GB 512 MB Yes Yes
Roku Ultra (4640) Oct 2016 Available Neither HDMI Neither Both Yes Remote & Stream to smartphone Optical & HDMI Yes, 10/100 Mbps a/b/g/n/ac dual-band Yes IR, Wi-Fi Direct, Voice Search ARM Cortex A53 quad core 1.2 GHz 1 GB 1 GB Yes Yes
Notes
  • Composite Video is an analog electrical signal through one RCA connector (yellow).
  • Analog Audio is a line level analog electrical signal through two RCA connector (red and white).
  • Optical Audio is an optical S/PDIF digital audio-stream through a TOSLINK fiber optical connector.

Software

The Roku box runs a heavily modified version of Linux called Roku OS. The first-generation Roku players first came with Roku OS 1.0. After that, Roku has continued to update the software with bug fixes, security updates, feature additions, and many new interface revisions. In November, 2016 the Roku software version 7.5.0 was released.

Programming

Online Roku channels

Content on the Roku DVP is provided by Roku partners, and is identified using the "channel" vernacular. Users can add or remove different channels from the Roku Channel Store. In May 2011, Roku stated the DVP had over one million viewers and had delivered 15 million channel downloads.

Service creation for Roku Player

The Roku is an open-platform device with a freely available software development kit that enables anyone to create new channels. The channels are written in a Roku-specific language called BrightScript, a scripting language the company describes as 'unique', but "similar to Visual Basic" and "similar to JavaScript".

Developers who wish to test their channels before a general release, or who wish to limit viewership, can create "private" channels that require a code be entered by the user in the account page of the Roku website. These private channels, which are not part of the official Roku Channel Store, are neither reviewed nor approved by Roku.

There is an NDK (Native Developer Kit) available, though it has added restrictions."

Services listing

A partial list of services is currently available through the Roku Channel Store. There is no subscription fee for the basic service, but individual channels and content may require a fee. Support is provided for free.

See also

Content from Wikipedia