Roku wants to do for smart TVs what it’s already done with set-top boxes — that is, it wants to make them extremely popular and easy to use for people who have only ever used “dumb” TVs.
Today the company is announcing a new line of Roku TVs, which are basically connected television sets running the same operating system Roku uses in its set-top boxes. Roku is teaming up with hardware partners Hisense and TCL for its line of Roku TVs.
The move makes sense for Roku because it’s taking the good will its built up with consumers and putting it towards a serious push for smart TVs. And as for Hisense and TCL, both don’t have millions of dollars to spend developing their own smart TV operating systems like Samsung and LG — so allowing Roku to power them is smart.
As for the TVs themselves, Roku said there will initially be six TV sets ranging from 32 to 55 inches. We don’t have a price point, but the company did note that the sets should be on the lower end of the pricing spectrum. The new sets should hit retail shelves in Fall 2014.
“How often has one family member not been able to use their smart TV because the other one wasn’t there to show them how to use [the controls]? We want to fix that by just making it really easy to use,” said Roku SVP of product management Jim Funk in an interview with VentureBeat.And Roku’s user interface is dead simple — with minimal steps to arrive at the content you want (via Roku channels aka apps.)
Funk said the company will also continue to pair its Roku Stick device with television sets that aren’t Internet capable. The new Roku TV line, he said, is sort of just a larger extension of this strategy.
Roku will be giving demos of the new TVs at its booth at CES this week. And since VentureBeat is covering CES, you should stay tuned for more info.