Centered out of Saratoga, California, Roku is announcing the release of the fourth generation of Roku players on July 20. Dubbed the Roku 2, this revision of the hardware brings a smaller form factor to the media streamer as well as a plethora of new content including gaming. Similar to the last round of players, Roku launches with three versions of the Roku 2; the Roku 2 HD ($59.99), the Roku 2 XD ($79.99), and the Roku 2 XS ($99.99). In addition to the new boxes, a Bluetooth, 6-axis motion-controlling remote (similar to a Wii controller) is packaged with the top-of-the-line XS model to interact with games like Angry Birds.
Angry Birds is available immediately with a purchase of the Roku 2. Other Angry Birds games like Angry Birds Seasons and Angry Birds Rio are in the works along with Galaga and Pac-Man CE from Namco. The controller is going to be available for purchase separately at $29.99 and is bundled with a 2GB MicroSD card. Games are likely to be sold through the existing Roku channel marketplace.
Roku is also expanding the channel selection by increasing to over 300 channels, both with new video content and social networking applications. EpixHD is being added to the Roku service to provide feature films from MGM Studios, Lionsgate and Paramount. AOL HD and Fox News are also on the list for new video providers. Facebook is getting a new channel for access to user accounts and high definition pictures as well as support for Facebook’s video player. Netflix is receiving a major upgrade that includes 1080p and Dolby Digital Plus support in addition to subtitles for the hearing-impaired.
The new models are also more power efficient and draw only 2 watts in standby mode during the day (4 watts for the third generation). All three models will feature the MicroSD slot for expanded memory for additional gaming storage. With the release of the Roku 2, the company expects to reach 3 million homes by the end of the year.
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