Saturday, November 23, 2013

Roku UK Channel Store - Weekly RoundUp #37

Hi, everyone !!

As with last week... once again it was apps making the headlines, as well as new channels, on the Roku streaming media player. For those of you that have not been following the companion Twitter Feed to this blog: @ukrokuchannels there were various tweets made concerning an announcement about the release of the latest update (version 2.4.0) to the Roku app for iOS and Android mobile devices which, believe it or not, appeared in the Roku Forums rather than the Official Roku Blog as would be the norm. Even more puzzling is that, less than 24 hours after the news was first posted in the Roku Forums, the thread has been removed and so too has the Roku iOS app from the iTunes App Store here in the UK. Happily, for now at least, the link to the Android version that I tweeted remains valid for version but it looks as though there has been a problem related to the release for Apple mobile devices. Stay tuned for more information as and when I hear about it.

Meanwhile, earlier in the week, there was an overwhelming response to news for Slingbox owners that a 'SlingPlayer for Roku' channel had been added to the Roku Channel Store in ALL REGIONS meaning that the portability of the Roku streaming media player can now really come into it's own by providing remote access to your AV equipment from pretty much anywhere you can get a decent WiFi signal... WHEREVER THAT MAY BE !! The ability to access satellite and cable boxes as well as DVR recordings, etc. from afar should prove to be as much a boon for Roku owners as it is for those who have already invested in the Slingbox and, as far as I'm concerned, puts another "feather in the cap" of both companies. So, I'd like to say A BIG THANK YOU to both Slingbox and Roku for making this particular setup a possibility and I look forward to a long and successful partnership between the two over the coming years. GREAT NEWS !!

Elsewhere, there was a request from Roku (themselves) to obtain the support of UK Roku owners in voting for the Roku 3 as "Best Home Entertainment Device" in the Pocket-Lint Gadget Awards 2013 where it's up against the NowTV Box, the Western Digital WD TV Play, the Sonos and the Fidelio HTL9100 Soundbar from Philips. If you haven't already shown your support for the Roku 3, you can do so now by casting your vote VIA THIS LINK to the Pocket-Lint Gadget Awards voting page.

In other Roku-related news, there have been some issues with the software update servers at Roku as mentioned IN THIS THREAD from the Roku Forums. This led to some problems when updating to version 5.2 of the Roku software on Roku 2 XS players as well as some Roku 3 players. You can read more about how to overcome the problem (if you're still stuck with it) VIA THIS POST but, according to 'RokuShawnS', the issue should now be fixed. He also suggested, if you are still experiencing problems, that you reboot your network (as well as your Roku) and try updating again.

Anyway, enough of all that... let's now get on with the details for the current 'Weekly RoundUp' of NEW ADDITIONS to the "Official" Roku UK Channel Store. There's TEN NEW CHANNELS which have been added during the past seven days and there's quite a range of choice among them. To wit, these latest additions to the Roku UK Channel Store provided FRESH CONTENT to the Film & TV, Music, Internet TV, Food, Special Interest plus Religion & Spirituality genres (i.e. categories).

In keeping with previous installments from the 'Weekly RoundUp' series, details of these new channels have all been listed below, together with links to obtain further information {by clicking on the channel name(s) beneath the respective channel icon(s) as pictured} and to read a 'Roku Guide' review with an independent (slightly more expansive) assessment of each one:-

SLINGPLAYER............................COST: FREE + £9.99 / £10.49 (PAID APP) [Roku Guide Review]

N.B. For some (as yet) unknown reason the 'SlingPlayer' channel for UK Roku players has not been allocated a specific genre (i.e. category) within the "Official" Roku UK Channel Store, other than the selection of "New" channels. At some point, I'd expect to see it added to "Internet TV", or (perhaps) "Photos & Video", but for the time being... the only place you'll be able to find it and add it to your Roku player(s) is in the category for "New" channels within the "Official" Roku UK Channel Store. Due to the constantly changing nature of the "New" category, it won't remain there indefinitely so we'll have to hope that Sling Media, who developed the channel, can update it fairly swiftly and provide it with a more permanent home in the "Official" Roku UK Channel Store, before it disappears never to be seen again. Until such a time as it does get a permanent category, it will not be included in my channel count and will also not feature in any of my channel store listings.

PLEASE ALSO NOTE:- That for anyone who does not yet ownSlingbox in the UK there will (unfortunately) be a MINIMUM ADDITIONAL HARDWARE COST OF £129.99 to purchase a compatible model in order to take advantage of the 'SlingPlayer' channel on your Roku player(s). The other caveat involved is that, to use the 'SlingPlayer' channel on Roku, YOU MUST ALSO PURCHASE A MOBILE APP (currently) priced at £9.99, in the case of the ANDROID APP (applicable to both phone and tablet versions), and/or £10.49 for the iOS APP (again applicable to both iPhone & iPad versions) with further details plus the system requirements of all available SlingPlayer Mobile Apps for Slingbox to be FOUND HERE (incl. download links for each device).

If the initial outlay seems rather excessive to you, I would recommend that you read the 'Roku Guide' review extolling the virtues of such a setup as well as outlining some potential scenarios in which you might find this will be of use to you. Should you then find yourself leaning more towards purchasing a Slingbox, to take advantage of the portability of your Roku player, then you will find pricing details for each of the available UK models VIA THIS LINK.

OUTLAW WESTERNS..........................................COST: £1.49 (MONTHLY) [Roku Guide Review]

GREG'S GARAGE TV.............................................................COST: FREE [Roku Guide Review]

ALIXA.TV...............................................................................COST: FREE [Roku Guide Review]

GOOD FOOD IRELAND...........................................................COST: FREE [Roku Guide Review]

GLOBAL KID.................COST: FREE + $5.99 / $59.99 (MONTHLY/ANNUAL) [Roku Guide Review]

PLEASE NOTE:- That in addition to the monthly and annual subscription rates outlined above, there is also a DAILY SUBSCRIPTION option available for only $2.99 with confirmation of the pricing for all membership types available on the SIGN-UP FORM for the 'Global Kid' channel. There is the choice to pay for your subscription to the 'Global Kid' channel via either credit card or PayPal and you will need to provide details of your first & last name as well as your email address. Other than that, it's just a simple matter of choosing a 'Username' and creating a password with which to access your 'Global Kid' subscription account and you're good to go !!

ALSO: The prices quoted for this are in $USD (U.S. Dollars) because that is how they are shown on the website, when you follow the link (above) to sign-up for a Global Kid Account. Currently, you will not find any prices quoted in £GBP (British Pounds)... even in the channel description that is included among the channel details for the "Official" Roku UK Channel Store. Needless to say, until that changes, the price you actually pay will depend entirely on the applicable exchange rate at the time you take out your subscription and may also vary based on your chosen method of payment.

CLASSIC CHRISTMAS TV....................COST: £0.69 (ONE-OFF PAYMENT) [Roku Guide Review]

POW-TV.NET.........................................................................COST: FREE [Roku Guide Review]

GRACEPOINT CHURCH - JIM DEVNEY..................................COST: FREE [Roku Guide Review]

IT PRO TV.............................................................................COST: FREE [Roku Guide Review]


So, whether it's powersports lifestyle shows with something for everyone who enjoys engine sports, or learning I.T. in a new type of environment (minus the dry instruction manuals and monotone lecturers) with content that is presented to you in a casual, informal & entertaining format, or classic Christmas TV (with no commercials) featuring vintage classics like The Monkees Christmas Show, I Love Lucy, Beverly Hillbillies, The Doris Day Show, The Brady Bunch & Liberace's Christmas Special, religious programming, kid's tv shows, 24/7 streaming on-demand classic westerns (with new movies added monthly), or learning about Irish cuisine, as well as signature dishes, and the rich culinary tradition associated with authentic Irish food experiences, or a channel that offers watch anytime on-demand shows ranging from Fantasy Sports to Hobbies and Technology to Religion plus How-To & FanCast videos as well as advice on Internet Security, a means of streaming content from Slingbox-connected AV equipment to your Roku, or (perhaps) even exclusive footage (updated weekly) from an urban entertainment blog that showcases hip-hop music and fashion... we've pretty much got all of those bases covered with these NEW ADDITIONS to the Roku UK Channel Store.

Anyway, like it or not, that is your lot for this week and, whilst it doesn't quite the match-up to the seventeen channels which made it into the "Official" Roku USA Channel Store during the same time-frame, I always think it's better to have SOME NEW CHOICES than none at all, don't you ?!!

Still, hopefully everyone in the UK with a Roku player managed to find something they like within the ten channels outlined above. If not, then you'll have to pay us a visit another time when, with any luck, there will be something more to your liking. Afterall, there's no point installing every channel because, as I've said before, when it comes to adding new channels to your Roku player, IT'S YOUR CHOICE and, as with all things Roku... THE CHOICE IS ALWAYS YOURS !!


Meanwhile, for my last fifteen 'Weekly RoundUp' posts, I have been suggesting we spare a thought for all the poor folk who handed over their hard-earned cash for one of those NowTV Boxes [Powered by Sky] which, as you may recall, have (so far) totally failed to live up to their full potential. Likewise, the original promise from NowTV of "more apps being continually added", is yet to be adhered to, since there still hasn't been a single extra new channel added to the Roku Channel Store on the NowTV Box since the product launched. As before, while time moves on so does the tumbleweed...

HINT: Click on the above image to ENLARGE IT for easier viewing !!

What I'd really like to know is... what lies beyond those mounds of dirt on the horizon? Rumour has it that behind one of them lies the much-anticipated '4oD' channel which has now been "Coming Soon" for far longer than is appropriate for the use of the word 'soon', if you ask me. Still, as long as it gets added to the channel store on Roku players (as well as the NowTV Box) I could make do with "Coming Next Week", "...Next Month", or even "...Next Year", come to that !! There's also been some speculation that 'ITVplayer' might be lurking in the distance somewhere... however, I'm sceptical of others who have alleged that 'BlinkBox', 'LoveFilm', 'Wuaki.TV' or (perhaps) the 'KnowHow' movie streaming service from the Dixon's Group are also "just out of shot" in the above image, largely due to the crippling approach that NowTV has taken towards the hugely restricted Roku Channel Store that is included on their NowTV Box. That's not to say that I've abandoned any hope of those channels being added to the "Official" Roku Channel Store that features on UK Roku players but, rather, that my own experience of NowTV (thus far) suggests that their focus lies within making improvements to their own 'NowTV' channel and not adding more apps to the Roku Channel Store on the NowTV Box

Consequently, it's likely to be of no surprise to any of you that (as with EVERY WEEK since it was launched) there has (once more) been literally NO ACTION in terms of NEW ADDITIONS to the Roku Channel Store selection on the NowTV Box. What this means is that, over the course of the past week, NowTV have yet again produced a (NOT SO) GRAND TOTAL of ZERO NEW CHANNELS to add to their (already SEVERELY REDUCED) version of the Roku Channel Store as included on their NowTV Box. Meanwhile, the "Official" Roku Channel Store that features on all UK Roku players has added TEN EXTRA CHANNELS during that same period of time. To keep things in perspective, in the seventeen weeks since the launch of the NowTV Box, there has been a total of ONE HUNDRED AND FIFTY-THREE EXTRA CHANNELS added to the "Official" Roku Channel Store on UK Roku players, as compared with ZERO EXTRA CHANNELS being added to the Roku Channel Store on the streaming player from NowTV. That, surely, must tell you something ?!!!

Having mentioned in my previous 'Weekly RoundUp' from last week that the SADLY FLAGGING "New" CHANNEL CATEGORY of the Roku Channel Store on the NowTV Box had dwindled to a count of JUST ONE CHANNEL, namely 'Havoc Television', we have since discovered that 'CNET' has joined it in the (ahem) "New" category. The reason for this appears to be that the channel was recently updated to 'Version 1.4' but, unlike 'Havoc Television', it hasn't been plucked from it's usual position in the "Internet TV" genre. Much like 'Havoc Television', however, the 'CNET' channel (again) ISN'T EVEN genuinely "NEW" having also featured on the NowTV Box since it's launch back in July of this year !! Perhaps the most significant factor (in this past week) is that the NowTV Box has (thankfully) not taken another positive(?) step towards becoming the "NO TV Box"... by losing yet another of the fifty channels which featured at launch. Fortunately this means that, as of this moment, there is still a total of 46 CHANNELS featured in the NowTV Box version of the Roku Channel Store PLUS the 'NOW TV' channel itself, which (let's not forget) is there by default and not included with the apps (i.e. channels) in the Roku Channel Store on the NowTV Box. As with last week, when it comes to the Roku Channel Store on the NowTV Box, there remains no more than a paltry 47 channels in total, compared with 650+ in the channel store on Roku player in the UK !!!

Now, I really don't mean to keep sounding like a scratched record but, if the NowTV Box is going to succeed, they really need to get those essential channels like 4oD (which they've already been touting around for well over a month) and start adding them to the Roku Channel Store on the NowTV Box BUT ensure they do it "NOW" and not "later this year". I mean, if they can't manage to add anything to the Roku Channel Store on the NowTV Box in just under four months, how do they expect us to believe they'll have a 4oD channel by the end of this year?!! I'm still wondering why they even bothered with a direct access button for "Apps" on their remote control, since they don't seem to be doing anything with that particular aspect of their streaming media player anyway. The recently introduced "Entertainment Pass" for the 'NowTV' channel (itself) is all well and good (not to mention being a VERY WELCOME addition) but... like I said before, that content doesn't add to the selection of channels available in the Roku Channel Store on the NowTV Box. So, as I keep saying... if this lack of support for the Roku Channel Store on the NowTV Box continues, it will eventually be branded as the "NO TV BOX" as people become more disillusioned at the unfulfilled promise of the device & the associated lack of channel choice available on it. Seriously folks, do yourselves a BIG FAVOUR and spend the extra twenty quid or so to get a genuine original Roku LT streaming media player that will allow you to ACCESS NETFLIX plus many other film & tv channels (incl. NowTV) and give you more than 600 EXTRA CHANNELS TO CHOOSE FROM when compared with the NowTV Box.


Still, whether you happen to own a Roku player, a NowTV Box, OR BOTH, as I do... be sure to come back in seven days' time for my next 'Weekly RoundUp' and, if you can't wait that long, remember you can always keep up with all the UK Roku action (as it happens) throughout the coming week, by following the companion Twitter Feed: @ukrokuchannels where up-to-the-minute info on all things Roku-related (here in the UK) is posted on a daily basis (well, almost).

Until the next time, then...

That's all folks !!

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