Row, row, row your Roku: New streaming devices feature 4K, HDR, OTA guides

Why even leave the couch?

Streaming your favorite shows over the internet is about as common today as changing the channel was to previous generations. One of the first companies to give consumers an option to stream stuff was Roku, back in 2008. Now, Roku has announced a new line of streaming gear, ranging from the most basic Express model at $30 to the top of the line Ultra for $100 – which is a $30 price cut from the previous Ultra model.

Along with the new gear, the Roku operating system also got a makeover, which will roll out to devices over the next couple of months. One notable feature: the Smart Guide will now include what’s available from over the air sources – you know, the kind of TV you get using an “antenna.” 4K video and high dynamic range (HDR) are also options depending on which model you choose, as is voice control for searching for your favorite show. Check out all the new models.

Fun all around

Sony is updating their popular PlayStation VR headset. A post on Sony’s Japanese site shows the new headset will debut in Japan on October 14th, and while we don’t have early word on when the gear will arrive in other markets, we’d say it’s a good bet you’ll be able to pick one up for the holidays. The Playstation VR has been somewhat of a surprise hit for Sony and in the VR market as a whole, where it battles with the HTC Vive and Oculus Rift systems.

But Sony’s strong gaming presence and the simplicity of the PlayStation VR have been winners, and the new headset features some… evolutionary updates, including high dynamic range ability, a thinner connection cable, a cleaned-up audio cable system and – maybe most importantly – no change to its price, which is expected to remain at about $400 bundled with the PlayStation camera. More details here.

Under the Domes

SpaceX CEO Elon Musk said last week that plans continue for robust and ongoing Mars missions, with cargo ships heading to the red planet by perhaps 2022, and manned missions to follow two years after that. An aggressive timeline to be sure. But what would life be like on Mars? Not easy, but if you need to practice, building a prototype Mars city on Earth first might be a good idea – and that’s exactly what might happen in Dubai very soon.

The latest outlandish idea – from a city with no shortage of them – is to build a series of geodesic domes in the desert that wouldn’t look at all out of place in a science fiction movie. Called Mars Science City, the complex would cover nearly two million square feet and include things like a robot police force, an indoor rain forest, and numerous science experiments. Cost is projected to be around $135 million, which is pocket lint for an oil-rich country like the UAE.

And when you get tired of “living on Mars,” you can take a break by going skiing at Dubai’s enclosed ski resort. No kidding at all, that’s a real thing.

We’ve got more news on our Facebook page and YouTube channel, and be sure to tune in to this week’s DT podcasts: Close to the Metal (computers and such) on Tuesday, Trends with Benefits (general tech shenanigans)  on Thursdays, and Between the Streams (movie and TV topics) every Friday.