Roku TV Goes Beyond Adding a Stick to Your TV

The wait is over for the new smart TV based on the Roku platform. TV manufacturers Hisense, and TCL announced that they will be taking pre-orders on the Roku TVs they showed at CES 2014 and plan to deliver next month. And Roku promises that this will be more than adding a stick to a TV.

At the heart of Roku TV is a new operating system that is integrated into the TV and an interface featuring simple Roku menus. The biggest difference between the Roku TV and other TVs is that the “input” button is missing from the remote control and the menus. Instead, you choose the device you want—cable or Xbox, for example—from a customizable home screen that also includes icons for Netflix, M-Go, and Amazon Instant Video.

If you already own a Roku box or Roku Stick, your channels will be immediately available on Roku TV. And, unlike Android devices that require choosing and downloading each app to each device—mobile phones, tablets, Google TV—once a channel is downloaded or purchased, it becomes accessible on all of your Roku devices.

Like previous Roku products, Roku TVs will offer a huge selection of streaming channels (1,700 and counting). Roku TVs can also be controlled by smartphones using the Roku remote control app and include a search feature that finds titles in the top 13 streaming channels.

The TCL Roku TVs will come in a 32-inch (720p), 40-inch, 48-inch, and 55-inch (all 1080p, with 120 Hz refresh rate). All but the 32-inch are available for pre-order from Amazon starting at $329 with a proposed shipping date of 2 to 3 weeks. Also see ”TCL and Hisense Introduce Roku TV” for more detail on the new TVs.

Smart TVs often make things more complicated than they need to be. Roku boxes have been my go-to recommendation of streaming boxes for family members and friends who are easily confused by technology. I’m looking forward to getting my hands on the new Roku TV. If it performs like other Roku products, it may become my go-to Smart TV recommendation for them.