In a market where Google Chromecast, Apple TV and Amazon Fire TV compete, Roku seeks to strengthen its presence by updating its software and presenting the new Roku 3 streaming box, which incorporates among its features a microphone to search for TV channels and movies.
Roku’s New Voice Controls Will Be Very Beneficial
Available for 100 dollars, the Roku 3 is a multimedia streaming player that launches the search function by voice through a microphone in its remote control. Roku’s software has also been updated with Roku Feed, a feature that will allow you to “follow” movies on movie screens for news and updates on their future availability on the platform. The Roku 3 also has in its remote control an audio jack to connect headphones, useful for private sessions of movies or series in their catalog.
For older Roku users, the Roku 2 tuner, which sells for $70, will also receive the latest software updates, although it will not be possible to search by voice because the remote control of this device does not have a microphone.
The software update makes it easy to search for content within the platform, and within the Roku Channel Store you can search for channels by number or by name typed on the screen. A necessary feature, since Roku assures that it has in its catalogue more than 250 thousand movies and contents available.
The first Roku set-top was introduced in 2008 and since then it has released different models every year. The current Roku 3 discontinued the S-Video inputs but maintains HDMI ports to connect to televisions, in addition to introducing USB and Ethernet ports. Roku pioneered the world of streaming boxes, a market that while popular in the United States, is introductory in Latin countries.
As soon as we get used to high resolution images and 4K on televisions when we are already told of 8K. While the subject is not entirely new, as from 2012 there are signs that go in that direction, everything seems to indicate that 2019 and beyond will dominate 8K, a resolution truculent from the point of view that content and media for that format are scarce, if not virtually null.
This shortage of material that justifies or does justice to the 8K resolution has not prevented recognized manufacturers such as Samsung, LG and Sony from presenting their proposals at CES 2019, following in the footsteps of lesser-known companies such as the Chinese TCL and Hisense.
Sony 8kSony 8K
Along with 8K is the growing integration of Alexa type assistants, part of an intelligent ecosystem that also makes it possible to interact with the computer via voice commands, and the Roku streaming system, which is already quite popular. In addition to these trends, there are the large and flexible formats, where the roll-up model presented by LG last year falls and which is now ready for sale, as well as panel-level innovations such as MicroLED, QLED and quantum dots (QDots).
What will we see in the market this year? Here is a brief account of what CES has seen so far.
Samsung and LG took the most impactful TVs from last year and tuned them to offer more realistic and, in the case of LG, consumer-ready versions.
So The Wall is now a 75-inch TV that continues to bet on MicroLED technology for better black levels and longer duration compared to OLED. The only drawback is that its mass production is not as feasible as one would like, but the company seems to be looking for the return. For its part, the LG roll-up TV offers a discreet and functional design that allows the TV to disappear from view when not in use. No doubt architects and interior designers will make the most of this feature.
As for 8K -which, as we’ve already noted, has been on the market for a few years-, Samsung, LG and Sony went big with models 98, 88 and 85 inches respectively, each with different technologies: QLED, OLED and LCD, in that same order. There are no data on the price of these equipments, but it is known that they will not be cheap.
The Chinese offer
Chinese brands such as TCL and Hisense have been trying for some time to gain a foothold in the U.S. market and, by extension, in this part of the world.
The offer of these two brands is quite wide and impressive, as could be seen in this version of CES. TCL, which last year gained fame and recognition with the 6 Series of televisions, announced in Las Vegas an addition to the 75-inch line with 60 attenuation zones that integrates Roku and supports Dolby Vision and HDR10. This model is priced under $1,800, with the ability to preorder now. It will be available soon at Best Buy.
TCL sound bar High 5 TCL sound bar High 5
One of TCL’s big surprises at CES 2019 was the introduction of its first sound bars, available for TVs 43 inches and up (Height 5, 31.5 inches long) and 55 inches and up (Height 7, 36 inches long). Both offer Bluetooth connectivity and three styles of sound” movies, music and news. A Plus (+) version will include a wireless subwoofer. High 5 and 7 will be available in the spring with prices ranging from $80 to $200.
On the Hisense side, one of the most striking models is the Roku R8 65-inch TV, which offers 64 attenuation zones, wide color gamut, 700 nits brightness and Dolby Vision. It will be worth $750 when it goes to market later in the year. There’s also a 55-inch model that will cost 600.
Android TVs are part of Hisense’s offer, starting with the H8F series, which integrates the Google Android TV system and also works with Alexa. There will be two versions on sale from May: 50 inches (400 dollars0 and 65 inches (750 dollars). The Android theme follows equally the H9G and U9F series, both QLED with an impressive amount of attenuation zones.
HisenseHisense at CES 2019
Hisense’s premium model, ULED XD, places a grayscale 1080p module between an LED rear display and a full-color 4K module. The result is improved dynamic range, 2,900 nits of brightness and unsurpassed blacks. To complete the offer, there is a series of 4K 100-inch and 120-inch laser projectors with support for Alexa.