CES 2014: Roku TV, No Box Needed

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Unlike the much talked-about (yet non-existent) Apple Television, Roku TV will very soon be a reality. Announced at CES 2014 in Las Vegas, HDTVs with built-in Roku capability will be available in sizes ranging from 32-55" in the fall.

Editor's Note: this post was written by Kate Kliner

In the U.S. alone, Roku has sold about eight million media-streaming boxes. Its prevalence can be attributed to the popularity of video on the Web, and its simplified user interface. Consumer allegiance remains strong, and Roku has a large stake in the future of home entertainment. Most people have a cable box connected to the first HDMI input on their TV, but manufacturers are scrambling to occupy that second spot—with Apple TV, Google Chromecast, and others vying for it. But what if you could cut out the need for that connected box (or dongle) entirely?

The Roku Channel Store has more than 31,000 movies and 1,200 channels that feature TV shows and live sports as well as news, music, and other programming. You can access Netflix, Amazon, HBO Go, PBS, Spotify, Picasa—and the list goes on, including less-mainstream platforms such as Nowhere TV. Like the Roku streaming players, Roku TV will allow full access to the Roku Channel Store. This wide selection of media, along with the same software and interface, provides an edge over similar Smart TVs. In addition, the TV can be controlled using a mobile device with the Roku app for iOS/Android, as well as support for casting standards including DIAL.

With Roku streaming built into the TV, this also opens up an HDMI input, since you won’t need that to connect an external box, so you can hook up your gaming console, Blu-ray player, video camera, or any other HDMI component to that extra port, while still enjoying the content that Roku provides.

Another convenient feature is that Roku TVs have a home screen that brings together all content sources, so you can do a cross-platform search for movies and TV shows. You can also switch between your cable box and gaming console right from the graphic interface. While the concept of a Smart TV isn’t new, the appeal of the forthcoming Roku TV is that it has Roku’s software and channel offerings without the need to occupy another HDMI port. It effectively combines the appeal of Roku’s software and interface with an HDTV that doesn’t require you to hook up that familiar external box for streaming privileges.