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Cable Technology Feature Article

August 19, 2014

Roku-Powered Television Lands in Stores

By Steve Anderson, Contributing TMCnet Writer

With the decline of summer now clearly evident—and more evident in some places than in others—it's easy to let thoughts turn to long winter weekends packed full of television because you can't get out of the house thanks to the weather. Those interested in a potential upgrade to their current television will have one new thing to consider: does it have Roku functionality? Roku smart televisions are beginning to arrive in United States markets, and such televisions bring along a new way to look at the idea of sitting around and watching TV.

The production of Chinese companies Hisense and TCL, the new Roku-driven televisions are set to arrive in a variety of different screen sizes, and will hit over the course of the next several weeks, according to reports. Originally shown off at the 2014 Consumer Electronics Show (CES (News - Alert)), the Roku-driven televisions begin with options for streaming services, as opposed to options for antennas or cable boxes. While a simple trip through the setup menu can switch up the order, the key point is that, out of the box, the Roku-driven televisions will start a focus on streaming rather than on traditional programming options.

Additionally, the remote controls on said televisions will include one-touch buttons to immediately access several different streaming services, from Netflix to Vudu and beyond thanks to a set of arrangements with said providers. The remotes also have some serious departure from standard remotes, including a lack of number keypads, which along with other differences brings the total button count down by half. Setup and navigation functions go through menus, and there's even some ability to send content from a mobile device to the television itself. However, the televisions won't stint on other devices, as three HDMI ports will reportedly be on hand for each model.

Prices will appear in a fairly narrow range, depending on screen size. TCL will offer up four such models:  a 32 inch model that sells for $229, followed by a 40 inch version for $329. Then a 48 inch model comes in at $499 and a 55 inch model shows up at the shockingly reasonable price—for a 55 inch television, anyway—of $649. Those interested in one of these models will be able to get in on the action by pre-ordering a model from Amazon right now, or by waiting until the end of this month—or early September—to grab one from several retailers.

The practice of cable cutting hasn't been heard of quite so much these days, but there are still plenty of people out there who are making the jump away from cable television or satellite and using strictly online sources for entertainment. There certainly are plenty of options, though it's not always easy to make the distinction among these options. Some of the services are very similar in terms of offerings, and it's easy to confuse one for another. Something like this, meanwhile, might well make streaming television more accessible overall to the everyday user, and that's a development that's hard to pass up for anyone looking to throw over the costs of a cable bill.

I personally shut off my service about two years ago, and after getting plenty of “please come back” mail from Dish Network, I know full well that I've been saving plenty of cash in the process, just by looking at the post-promotional prices for a month of that service. For those who want to join in the cost savings, it may be as easy as a new television away.

Edited by Stefania Viscusi

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