By Sahil Patel
Roku is one of the most popular connected-TV boxes in the market, offering users access to an enormous library of content across 12,000 live and on-demand channels. Now the company wants to make it even easier for users to watch stuff via its platform by integrating its software directly into internet-connected TVs.
In advance of the 2014 International CES, Roku has unveiled plans for the “Roku TV,” a future line of smart TVs that will give users full access to the Roku platform without needing a set-top box or any other type of device that allows users to connect their TVs to the web.
Roku has already lined up partnerships with two top global TV manufacturers, TCL and Hisense, both of which will be previewing Roku TV models during CES*. While TCL and Hisense don’t command as much of a domestic presence, both manufacturers claim to be getting serious about expanding “aggressively” in the US.
With future hardware partners, Roku says it will license the Roku TV reference platform and TV and remote control design, as well as any other software necessary to support the streaming experience. Roku will also manage the “entire software ecosystem,” including regularly updating the platform with new features and enhancements.
If Roku’s TV plans remind you of Google’s Android operating system powers various smartphones and tablets, you wouldn’t be wrong. Though the company you really should be thinking of is Apple, which has received plenty of attention in the past few years about its potential (some say inevitable) plans to break into the TV business. While there is still very little information to go on about Apple’s future TV play, it’s clear that Roku wants to get out ahead in this market while it has the opportunity to.
The first Roku TV models will ship to major retailers in the US and Canada this fall. Sizes will vary from 32 inches to 55 inches. Prices will be determined by manufacturers.
* If you’re attending CES, TCL’s Roku TV model will be shown in Central Hall booth #9825, while Hisense’s version of the TV will be previewed at booth #7243.