Roku announces $50 LT box, adds HBO Go


The entry-level Roku LT retails for $49 (click to enlarge).

(Credit:
Roku)

Just a few months after Roku introduced a $59.99 entry-level streaming video player, the company has lowered the bar further with a new $49.99 player, the Roku LT. That’s half of the price of Apple TV, which retails for $99.99.

The new player offers the same 720p high-definition video and built-in wireless of the $59.99 Roku 2 HD but leaves out the Bluetooth and microSD card slot (meaning that you can’t add the
Wii-like remote to play games).

Roku also offers the Roku 2 XD ($79.99) and Roku 2 XS ($99.99). Those models offer Bluetooth and a microSD card, but also add 1080p streaming capabilities (and Ethernet support on the XS). The Roku 2 XS is the only one of the bunch to include the Roku Game Remote with motion control that takes advantage of the built-in Bluetooth for playing games (only Angry Birds is available right now) and navigating the device’s interface.

The new Roku LT will be available online at Roku.com and Amazon.com and in retail stores beginning in early November. It’s worth mentioning that while its list price is $49.99, Roku’s most inexpensive models don’t usually include free shipping, so the actual cost of the LT will probably end up being closer to $60.

In other Roku news, the company has announced that it’s adding HBO Go to a channel roster counts Netflix, Amazon Instant Video, Hulu Plus, and Pandora among its 300 choices. To get HBO Go programming you do need to subscribe to HBO via a cable or satellite provider, so it’s not the “cable cutter” dream solution–but it could be a cheap an easy way to add a de facto cable box to another room in the house.

In case you hadn’t noticed, Roku has been bulking up its channel lineup in an effort to gain a competitive advantage over Apple TV, and the new $50 price point on the LT also bolsters Roku’s case as a formidable alternative Apple’s little box.

For now, the HBO Go deal appears to be exclusive to Roku, and fear not owners older Roku players or Roku 2 boxes: you’ll also be able to access to the new channel after a simple software upgrade.

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