Roku is moving past its set-top box competitors by moving past the set-top box altogether. The company announced this weekend that it will release a new line of HDTV sets with the Roku software built right in. Attendees at International CES this week will get the opportunity to preview the new televisions, with an official rollout set for this fall. Hit the jump for more details.
Roku is partnering with Hisense and TCL for the endeavor; other partners are expected to be revealed later this year. Although the two companies, both from China, are not particularly well known in the U.S., they’re huge globally. TCL is the world’s third-largest global TV manufacturer, and Hisense is the world’s fifth-largest set-maker.
Jim Funk, Roku’s SVP of Product Management, explained to Engadget that the goal is to create a “TV for the way TVs are used by people today.” To that end, they’re trying to keep things simple. Even the remote control has been pared down to the basics — it has about 20 buttons, which Roku says is “half the number” found on most TVs.
The Roku TV can also be controlled using the Roku app on Android and iOS devices, just like regular Roku set-top boxes. And anyone who knows their way around the current generation of Roku devices should have no trouble navigating the television, as the UI is said to be very similar. Eventually, Roku wants to license its software to other TV manufacturers as well.
The Roku television will be available in six different models, with screen sizes ranging from 32 to 55 inches. Prices have not been revealed, although Gizmodo has heard that they’ll be “comparable” to those of their competitors. Meanwhile, Roku devotees not in the market for a new TV needn’t worry. The company plans to keep producing the regular players even as it launches its own smart TV.