Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Roku 2 Arrives-Smaller, Gaming Included

Roku today announced the Roku 2 lineup.  Dave Zatz has been machine gunning the web with info he’s pulled together before the announcement so we know quite a bit about it already.  This device has some unique features and seems to be a nice step up from the already popular Roku devices so lets review the details.


Roku became popular in the beginning because it was one of the first devices to allow official support of Netflix Movie Streaming.  Better yet, it continued to be one of the best if not THE best implementation of netflix streaming on a hardware device.  Over time they connected the Roku with additional online services and allowed you to stream media from a computer or NAS.

The Roku 2 is priced just like the earlier models

  • Roku 2 HD – $59.99 720p max, motion remote not included, Angry Birds not included, no ethernet port, no USB port
  • Roku 2 XD – $79.99 Same as Roku 2HD but plays HD video up to 1080p
  • Roku 2 XS – $99.99 Same as Roku 2XD but includes motion remote, Angry Birds, ethernet port, and USB port

Supported Media Formats

According to DaveZatz, the supported media formats are the same as the older models:

  • Video: MP4 (H.264), WMV/ASF (WMV9/VC-1) ASF/WMV files encoded in WMV9 can be displayed at a maximum resolution of 480p.  MP4 and ASF/WMV files encoded in VC-1 can be displayed at a aximum resolution of 1080p
  • Audio: AAC, MP3
  • Image: JPG, PNG

Many Online Options

  • Netflix (Including 1080p & subtitles)
  • Hulu Plus
  • Amazon Instant Video
  • FOXNews (New)
  • Major League Soccer (New)
  • NBA, NHL UFC and other live streaming sports (limited)
  • Crackle
  • Epix
  • Pandora
  • Flickr
  • MOG
  • Vimeo
  • Many more

Check here for a complete list of online content sources available for the Roku.  It’s a pretty impressive lineup.

Bluetooth Motion Controller!

New Bluetooth Remote with accelerometer and gyro (think Wii Controller) for gaming & control


This controller is included with the $99 Roku 2 XS or you will eventually be able to purchase it separately as an accessory for $29 if you go with one of the two lower-end Roku models.


Now if you have that newfangled remote your going to want to play games aren’t you?  While MrsGeekTonic, a serious “Angry Birds fan” isn’t sold on the idea of playing Angry Birds on a non-touch-screen device like your TV I still think there might be a place for some casual gaming with a Roku or other TV-connected device.  I see this being a selling point for the Roku during the holiday season just like the Nintendo Wii once was.  I think trivia and simple games might work in this arena but we’ll just have to see how well it is implemented.  If you don’t think it will work, just try telling that to Google who I think plans to make this an important part of GoogleTV going forward.

I should note that I have yet to see any games beyond Angry Birds mentioned on the Roku website.  I’ll be watching this closely.  Another thing to note is the limitation mentioned on ZatzNotFunny that to store more than 4 games on the Roku, you’ll need to use a MicroSD card.

I’m not 100% sure I really have a place for a Roku device, but I think many people will see value in it.  I’m seriously considering reviewing the Roku XS.

Read more about the Roku at their website