Roku today launched the next generation of their set top box media streamers, the Roku 2 line. And these new additions to the family seem to be the offspring of an illicit affair between the last generation and the Nintendo Wii. More on that later.
Like most things the new boxes are smaller with more features, and they were nice enough to maintain the same price points – $59.99, $79.99, and $99.99, with free shipping on the top two units. The old Roku HD, XD, and XDS are now the Roku 2 HD, XD, and XS, respectively. Yes, that could be slightly confusing. The biggest, and most anticipated, change in this new generation is the addition of gaming. Yes, now you can play Angry birds on your Roku 2.
But they didn’t do things in half measures, they’ve fully embraced gaming, especially in the top end XS and it’s new remote. Which is Roku’s version of the Wiimote, or ‘Rokumote’ – a motion sensing controller for gaming. The lower two models, the HD & XD, come with an IR remote (on the left) like the older boxes. But the XS comes with the RF Rokumote (on the right) for gaming. The RF remote will also be available separately for $29 for use with the lower tier units. But, given the pricing, you may as well buy the XS to start. (Which is probably their intention anyway.)
Dave Zatz did discover one gotcha – the XS only includes enough memory to store four games. FOUR. You can expand the storage with microSD, and Roku is offering a 2GB microSD card, which can store up to 60 games, for $4.99 during checkout. Still, given the focus they’ve placed on the addition of gaming to their platform, and the low cost of flash these days, they couldn’t have splurged on the included storage?