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Roku TVs take a cue from DVRs, gain the ability to pause live TV

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Simon Cohen/Digital Trends

Chances are fairly good that a lot of people buying Roku televisions aren’t doing so to watch over-the-air (OTA) TV, but that could be about to change. With the latest update to Roku OS, version 7.5, that antenna connector in the back is much more useful thanks to the newly added ability to pause live TV, according to Variety.

Specifically, Roku TVs can now pause broadcast TV for up to 90 minutes — something common in DVRs, but not as a stand-alone feature. This feature is available even in first-generation Roku TV models, but there is a catch: You’ll need to provide your own storage in the form of a USB stick with at least 16GB of space. You’ll also need an antenna to plug into your TV, assuming you don’t already have one.

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Don’t expect your TV to suddenly be able to function as a DVR, as this new functionality is limited to pausing. Scheduling recordings and other DVR features aren’t available, and given the reliance on USB sticks as a storage mechanism, it isn’t likely we’ll see them added in the future.

Pausing and resuming live TV isn’t the only new feature coming to Roku TVs in this latest update, though the other major feature being added will be familiar to users of Roku streaming boxes: Private Listening, otherwise known as the ability to send audio from the Roku to your phone, and from there to your headphones.

To use the new feature, simply connect your mobile device to your Roku via the free downloadable Roku app. Once the two are connected, you’ll see a headphone icon, indicating that your phone or tablet is ready to receive audio. This is a boon for anyone who wants to watch TV shows or movies at night without bothering anyone else. Unfortunately, you won’t be able to use this with broadcast TV — it only works with streaming channels.

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A handful of other features have also been added in the Roku OS 7.5 update, though these focus on Roku’s set-top boxes. These features include screen mirroring for compatible Android and Windows devices, and the ability to control volume on certain TVs and A/V receivers via Roku remotes using HDMI CEC (Consumer Electronics Control).

The update began to roll out November 1, and Roku says the feature will continue to come to TVs over the coming weeks.