By Sahil Patel
Known primarily as a streaming set-top (or stick) provider, Roku is now ready to be more directly integrated into the biggest screen in the house.
In the coming weeks, two of the company’s TV-manufacturing partners, Hisense and TCL, will start shipping Roku-powered TV sets.
The goal for Roku is to be the primary interface through which users watch streaming and TV content. As a result, the Roku-powered TVs will offer a user experience that puts users’ favorite streaming channels — as well as the option to switch inputs to traditional TV and gaming consoles — front and center. “There’s no more flipping through inputs or wading through complicated menus to select entertainment,” said Anthony Wood, founder and CEO of Roku, in a blog post.
Other features include a “simple remote control” that offers half the buttons of a traditional TV remote, as well as one-touch access to streaming services like Netflix, Amazon Instant Video, Rdio, and Vudu. A new Roku Search feature will also allow users to search for their favorite shows and movies across the top 13 streaming channels.
Overall, Roku’s streaming catalog spans 1,700 channels, collectively offering more than 200,000 movies and TV episodes.
TCL and Hisense are currently the third- and fourth-best selling TV-set brands, respectively. Deals with both companies were announced by Roku during the 2014 International CES. Both manufacturers will offer a wide range of models, from the 32-inch TCL Roku TV and 40-inch Hisense Roku TV, to 55-inch versions of the device.