I don’t know about you, but the shelf under my TV is getting crowded. With video game consoles, a PVR and a couple other set-top boxes, there’s an awful lot of clutter going on down there.
It’s into that melee that Roku is stepping on Monday with an official announcement of availability in Canada. The Saratoga, Calif.-based company is bringing its internet-streaming devices north of the border for the first time. While Canadians could previously buy the Roku – meaning “six” in Japanese, and pronounced “roh-koo” rather than “rock you” – in the United States and use it at home, its usefulness was limited because many of its services weren’t available.
The company is launching two devices in Canada, the Roku 2 HD and Roku 2 XS, on April 30 at respective prices of $89.99 and $109.99. Both take internet content and stream it to the television set, with the more expensive XS coming with a motion-sensitive controller that also allows for playing video games.
The Roku devices are a little different from similar set-top boxes, such as the Apple TV. While Apple’s gadget lets you rent movies and TV shows or stream media onto your flat panel from your computer, Roku is specifically about connecting to internet-based sources.
At launch, the service will include more than 100 “channels,” including Crackle, CNBC, WSJ, Rdio, MLB.TV, Vimeo, TEDtalks and Netflix. The devices are capable of 1080p video, so if the source serves up HD, that’s how it’ll display. Roku will also allow users to view websites such as Facebook and Flickr and, with the motion remote, play games such as Angry Birds, Super Stickman Golf, Jeopardy and Wheel of Fortune.
The company says it’s planning to quickly ramp up the number of channels it offers in Canada. In the U.S., Roku currently serves up about 450.
Roku devices have proven to be popular with people who don’t want anything to do with cable or satellite. I’ve never tried one, but I’m anxious to see if man (or woman) can live on internet content alone. I’m also curious as to whether the Roku can do anything that the plethora of devices currently under my TV don’t already do.
I’ll post a full review here once I’ve had a chance to play with the device.