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CES Snapshot: More Roku TVs, and 4K on the Way

Roku's new hardware partners are Best Buy's Insignia brand and appliance maker Haier.

Best Buy

At last year’s CES, set-top box maker Roku unveiled its plans for Roku TV, which meant Roku’s software would be pre-installed on TV sets made by Chinese hardware partners Hisense and TCL. Now, swap out those players for two new ones and add a touch of 4K to the mix.

Best Buy’s Insignia brand and appliance maker Haier will carry new Roku TV models this year. The sets will range in size from 32 inches to 65 inches and, like the previous Roku TV models, will default to Roku’s operating system as the main interface for browsing on the TV (regular cable can be accessed as well).

Roku likes to boast that it offers more than 2,000 channels to consumers, and while I don’t know anyone who watches even a few hundred channels, its number of content partners is one of Roku’s most valuable assets in the growing world of set-top boxes and streaming video sticks.

The Insignia-brand Roku TVs are expected to hit shelves in the spring; Haier Roku TVs will become available in the third quarter of the year. Pricing hasn’t been disclosed, but a 32-inch TCL Roku TV can be found for as little as a couple hundred dollars at Walmart right now.

In addition to adding more TVs to its lineup, Roku has said it will support 4K Ultra HD streaming in future products. The Saratoga, Calif-based company says it is working with both hardware makers to provide a reference design for TV sets, and with content partners like Netflix to offer 4K-quality video streams. We’re still a very long way from 4K-all-the-way — and if you don’t have the bandwidth, the stream will adjust to show lower-quality video anyway — but it’s a notable step in that direction.

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