New Roku TVs Build In Entertainment
Best Buy will soon be selling Roku TVs under both the Sharp and Insignia brands exclusively at stores and online in the United States and Canada.
Meanwhile, TCL just introduced seven new Roku TVs that will bring the number of the brand’s second-generation 2015 TCL Roku TV models to 10.
Sharp is the latest brand to join the Roku TV family, although the TVs appear to be products sold under a private brand-licensing arrangement announced last year between Best Buy and Sharp Electronics. Executives at both Sharp and Best Buy did not return repeated queries to confirm the brand-licensing status.
More on the new Roku TVs after the jump:
Further indication that the Sharp Roku TVs were made under license for Best Buy is the fact that sets will carry the Amazon Instant Video app, a Roku spokesperson confirmed for us. Regular-line Sharp Aquos TV models do not offer the Amazon app. Sharp is also updating new 2015 Aquos smart TV models to the Android TV operating system.
The Sharp Roku TVs will have Full HD 1080p resolution, 60Hz refresh rates and will be available in 43- ($379.99) and 50-inch ($499.99) screen sizes, Roku said. Both will carry the new Netflix Recommended certification, which recently launched on LG webOS 2.0 TVs.
Netflix Recommended certification indicates the smart device has passed a rigorous evaluation program for, easier app access and new smart-TV features including instant-on capability to prominently display the new Netflix app at turn on; a dedicated Netflix button on the TV’s remote; faster app launch and resume, and faster program playback.
The Roku TV home screen can be personalized with icons for favorite TV entertainment choices, including devices such as game consoles, cable boxes and Blu-ray players, together with favorite streaming channels, Roku said.
According to a statement announcing the sets, the Sharp Roku TV models “represent a new generation of smart TVs that are built using the Roku TV reference design and feature the Roku operating system (Roku OS).
Under the Sharp-brand licensing deal, Best Buy was given the authority to develop and sell its own Sharp TV line, with careful quality control oversight from Sharp Electronics. Best Buy will also continue to carry Sharp’s Aquos TV lines in its U.S. stores.
“We are pleased to offer Sharp smart TVs that run the Roku OS and provide consumers with an easy and elegant way to enjoy their entertainment,” said Vishnu Rao, Sharp Electronics director of technology planning. “We believe the benefits of the Roku platform combined with the superiority of the Sharp brand makes an appealing combination for consumers looking for a great smart TV experience.”
Best Buy also will exclusively sell a pair of Roku TV models under its own Insignia private-label brand starting later this month in the U.S. and Canada. The Insignia Roku TVs will be LED-LCD TVs with Full HD 1080/60Hz screens and will sell for $229 and $549, respectively.
Roku TVs have been favorably reviewed for their ease of use, extensive suite of apps, clean and easy to follow graphical user interface and responsiveness. However, the smart TV platform has yet to surface in an Ultra HDTV set. The current assortment of outboard Roku media devices are also not 4K Ultra HD capable.
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Chas Smith, Roku OEM general manager, said in a statement: “Sharp is an exceptional brand, and these new Sharp Roku TV models offer consumers a fantastic smart TV experience we know they’ll love.”
Meanwhile, TCL this week added seven new Roku TV models to its now 10-model lineup of LED-LCD TV with the built-in Roku OS.
All of the models feature Full HD 1080p resolution and will carry Netflix Recommended status for complying with Netflix performance standards for fast startup and prominent positioning of the Netflix app after the TV is turned on.
Meanwhile, TCL’s 10 2015 Roku TV models, which will be available at leading retrial chains across the country later this month, will also carry the Netflix Recommended status. The seven newest models appear in the company’s 3800 Design and top-end 3850 Decorator series, both of which will be available later this month in-store and online at major retailers nationwide.
The new models will join three other TCL Roku TVs introduced to the 3700 model series in March.
The new 3800 series TCL Roku TVs include the $229.99 32-inch 32S3800, the $339.99 40-inch 40FS3800, and the $479.99 50-inch 50FS3800. The 40- and 50-inch models have 120Hz refresh rates for smooth motion images. All include a quad pedestal stand.
Models in the 3850 series all feature a gun-metal finish design and aluminum pedestal. Models include the $249.99 32-inch 32S3850, the $359.99 40-inch 40FS3850, the $529.99 50-inch 50FS3850, and the $699.99 55-inch 55FS3850.
Models in TCL’s currently available 3700 series include the 32-, 48- ($439.99) and 55-inch ($548.99) screen sizes. The 32-inch offers 720p resolution and a 60Hz refresh rate. The other two are Full HD, 120Hz models.
All TCL models also feature built-in Wi-Fi to access streaming services and display smartphone content. The TVs also display video, pictures and audio sent wirelessly from a smartphone or tablet running a Roku app.
Best Buy has also announced plans to sell Roku TVs this month under its Insignia brand.
Haier and Hisense also plan to offer next-generation Roku TVs this year. A number of TV brands, including JVC and RCA, have also offered TVs with bundled Roku Streaming sticks.
Roku TV provides access to the Roku Channel Store, with more than 1,400 available streaming channel apps. These feature movies and TV episodes plus live sports, music, news, fitness, and more. A Roku Search feature helps to simplify searching for particular movie TV show, availability, and pricing. User can also search for favorite actors and directors and view filmographies.
Also offered is a new Roku Feed that signals the viewer when a favorite program becomes available to stream — and at what price.
By Greg Tarr
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