Competing directly against Amazon and Apple for streaming set-top box dominance in the living room, there are multiple signs pointing to a fall 2015 revision of the Roku set-top box line along with a new model called the Roku 4 added into the mix. A barrage of filings went through the FCC today, an indication that revisions to existing hardware will roll out for the holiday shopping season.
Regarding the Roku 4, streaming company CinemaNow accidentally pushed a customer service page (cached here) live this week detailing a promotion that offered four free high definition movie rentals with the purchase of the Roku 4. This promotion is specific to “participating warehouse club retailers” that are selling the Roku 4. The promotion is scheduled to start on October 1, 2015 and run through April 30, 2016.
If this promotion is accurate, Roku will likely announce the Roku 4 within the next week, specifically on or before Thursday, October 1. While Apple and Amazon make consumers preorder revisions of set-top boxes, Roku has taken a different approach with previous releases. New hardware is usually available on the same day of the announcement or very close to it. It’s likely the Roku 4 and other hardware revisions will appear on Roku’s retail site first, then be distributed to retailers like Amazon and Best Buy.
With Amazon announcing Ultra HD support on the new Fire TV, 4K streaming on one or more of the new Roku boxes is a definite possibility. Interestingly, a 4K showcase channel was spotted by Roku enthusiast site UK Roku Channels, but that page was quickly removed from the channel store after being publicized on Twitter. In addition, we already know that Roku has been working on support for 4K Ultra HD streaming on future Roku TV models; an announcement that was made at CES 2015.
As a company, Roku has always been aggressive about upgrading set-top box hardware. Creating a set-top box that’s 4K capable would keep Roku competitive with Amazon and retain a strategic edge over Apple. There’s also a significant volume of UHD streaming content being published by companies like Amazon and Netflix, much greater than a year ago. Just today, Amazon announced six new shows that will be filmed and eventually streamed in Ultra HD resolution. Netflix is doing the same with original programming as well as popular shows like Breaking Bad.
In addition, the consumer electronics industry is at more of a tipping point with Ultra HD hardware this holiday season. HDMI and HDCP requirements have been finalized for all new Ultra HD devices, including the Ultra HD Blu-ray players that are rumored to hit retailers prior to Christmas or by early 2016 at the latest. In addition, studios are prepping to release films on Ultra HD Blu-ray when the players are released.
It’s also likely that prices on Ultra HD televisions will hit all time lows during November, specifically during Black Friday weekend. LG, Panasonic and Samsung are predicting that Ultra HD television sales will quadruple in the United States this year, according to Twice. If that holds true, any company that releases a player capable of streaming 4K content will be in a great position to take advantage of new UHD television owners this holiday season.