One of the most popular television add-ons of the past decade, Roku, now has a TV of its own, thanks to a pair of Chinese television makers. This week at CES 2014 in Las Vegas, TCL introduced the first-ever TV with Roku built in. I spent a little hands-on time with the 55-inch version, which simply goes by the model number 55E4610R.
"It looks OK, it's a normal TV ... but it gives you a phenomenal experience," said TCL CEO Li Dongsheng in a private press event at CES.
Roku's TV line is basically a new kind of smart TV. Fire up the flat panel and you're taken to a familiar Roku menu, providing access to over 1,000 possible streaming channels alongside normal cable or broadcast options. Unlike traditional TVs that make set-top boxes an ancillary function, the TCL display makes streamed content the main attraction and old-school channels more ancillary.
Roku says its new TVs will also be available from manufacturer Hisense, and in sizes ranging from 32 to 55 inches. I was able to track down 32, 48 and 55 inch models so far.
TCL's Dongsheng also claims that Roku TVs will have to spend less time buffering and touted the simplicity of combining all TV and streaming functions into a single remote.
He said his company's Roku TV models would be available online and via retail in the third quarter of this year for an "affordable price."