updated 09:35 am EDT, Tue October 11, 2011
Roku LT arrives with extra low price
Roku hoped to lower the price floor for networked media hubs Tuesday with the Roku LT. By shedding the Ethernet, SD card slot, and Bluetooth used for the Roku 2's gaming on many models, the box drops to just $50, or half the price of an Apple TV. It can still output 720p video streamed over Wi-Fi and has all the channels of regular Roku players, such as Netflix, Hulu Plus, Amazon Instant Video, and Pandora radio.
New support is being added for HBO Go. The service still requires authenticating the user to a legacy cable TV provider but lets viewers watch top-tier shows on demand without getting a more expensive set-top box from the provider. Epix was already supplying similar content in a Roku channel and has been popular enough to help justify HBO.
Both Roku and retail stores should have the LT hub next month.
Historically, Roku has fought to gain share relative to Apple. The second-generation Apple TV took three months to reach a million units where Roku managed it only after a few years. The LT is Roku's least expensive to date and could help drive impulse buys of the Roku in a market which Apple still calls a "hobby."