Last week, Roku announced the release of its new set-top boxes. Starting at just $59.95 and along with a few new partnerships, Roku has effectively made itself a very serious contender in the set-top box market.
The Roku HD box starts at just $59.95 -- a price that is almost half of the latest generation Apple TV. This low price point is significant because it makes the device affordable in a market where traditional (cable, satellite, etc.) content consumption prices are increasing. With Roku, a user also does not pay any additional content access fees. The highest model Roku -- the XDS is priced at $99.99 -- the same price as the Apple TV.
By and large, this particular update doesn't introduce any ground breaking features. However, the Roku XDS model has the ability to display content from USB drives. This makes the device an excellent choice for presentation and demo purposes on the road.
Today, Roku supports more premium content than the Apple TV and for that matter, most set-top boxes. With access to Amazon Video on Demand, Pandora, Netflix and now Hulu Plus, the device can access a significant amount of premium content at very minimal cost ($20 per month for Hulu and Netflix). And, with the XDS' upcoming ability to play content from an attached drive makes the device even more attractive.
As of this moment, the Apple TV doesn't offer the ability to install Apps. Roku does. Roku calls their apps "channels." And, the ability to create apps and market them on a growing platform is win-win for any media organization -- small or large. Broadcast networks could potentially create their own channels and introduce new revenue streams.
The new release by Roku is a huge leap forward, not just for the company, but for the set-top box market. Highly recommended.
Aanarav Sareen is a content creator and digital media consultant. He blogs daily at Digital Media Business and publishes the monthly Digital Media Newsletter. He's also the host of the weekly Digital Media Podcast.