Saturday, December 21, 2013

Roku UK Channel Store - Weekly RoundUp #41

Hi, everyone !!

Before I get to the REALLY BIG NEWS for UK Roku owners from this past week, I'd like to draw your attention to AN AMAZING OFFER for indie film fans which comes courtesy of an already well-established Roku channel called (appropriately enough) 'IndieFlix', who published a GREAT DEAL FOR SUBSCRIBERS to their movie streaming service which 'Variety' described as "the 'Netflix' of independent films". Details of this FANTASTIC BARGAIN are available VIA THIS LINK and those who take advantage of this opportunity will get UNLIMITED ACCESS to thousands of award-winning features, shorts, documentaries & web series FOR A WHOLE YEAR at a cost of ONLY $12.00... yes, that's just twelve U.S. Dollars for an annual membership to 'IndieFlix' (normally $69.00). That means an equivalent monthly fee of just $1.00 compared to the regular monthly membership price of $6.99 which means you'll be getting twelve months access for less than the price of a two-month subscription. BUT HURRY.... this OFFER ENDS on 31st December 2013 so, if you don't want to miss out then be sure to act fast on this one because there's only ten days to go before it's over !!

Meanwhile, there were some suggestions this week that someone had spiked the eggnog in the offices of the 'Innovative Language' channel developers who (once more) notched up some fairly prolific output over the past seven days, meaning we've (this time) managed to exceed the number of new additions from each of the last four weeks. So, if your vacation destination for next year is likely to be Turkey or Poland, or (perhaps) even India or Brazil (apparently there's a small football tournament taking place there in 2014)... rather than, say, Greece or Thailand, or one of several other countries whose native tongue is something other than English... then there's now even more opportunities for you to learn some of the local lingo for wherever it is you are headed, courtesy of this latest batch of educational Roku channels from the folks at Innovative Languages.

Of course there were MANY other EXCITING NEW CHANNELS ADDED to the "Official" Roku UK Channel Store during the past seven days, as you are about to discover, so (once again) it's been a week full of GREAT NEWS & EVEN MORE GREAT CHANNELS for UK Roku owners !! Undeniably, though, the MAJOR NEWS STORY for all Roku owners during this past week was the addition to the Roku Channel Stores IN EVERY REGION of an "Official" YouTube channel. Those of you who follow the companion Twitter Feed to this blog: @ukrokuchannels will have seen me tweet firstly about THIS ANNOUNCEMENT on the "Official" YouTube Blog and then, shortly afterwards, about the OFFICIAL CONFIRMATION which was posted via the "Official" Roku Blog. The only downside to these announcements was that the NEW 'YouTube' CHANNEL is (currently) available for owners of ROKU 3 ONLY and they could only add that "The channel is expected to be available on additional player models next year" which proved to be scant consolation for most !!

Fortunately for owners of the original Roku LT & Roku 2 XS, or the newer Roku 1 & Roku 2 players, there is still access to YouTube videos via the tried & tested workaround methods such as 'Twonky' (via 'TwonkyBeam' on mobile devices) or the 'YouTube' plugin for the 'Plex' channel, as well as by adding the videos to your Facebook account and then watching via the 'Facebook Photos & Videos' channel on your Roku player. In addition to the FREE OPTIONS, there's a PAID ALTERNATIVE which comes courtesy of the 'PlayOn' channel that brings with it some additional content from a variety of channel plugins and an optional online PVR facility for recording streams to watch later. If you'd like to find out more about 'PlayOn', you can navigate to their Official Website VIA THIS LINK. Meanwhile, PRICING INFORMATION for their various packages CAN BE FOUND HERE.

Anyway, let's get on with the details for the current 'Weekly RoundUp' of NEW ADDITIONS to the "Official" Roku UK Channel Store. This time, there are FIFTEEN NEW CHANNELS which have been added during the past seven days. These latest additions to the "Official" Roku UK Channel Store provided FRESH CONTENT to the Film & TV, Games, Music, Internet TV, Photos & Video, 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 (where available) with an independent (slightly more expansive) assessment of each one:-

YOU TUBE...........................................................................COST: FREE [Roku Guide Review]

PLEASE NOTE:- This channel is (currently) ONLY AVAILABLE FOR ROKU 3 PLAYERS !!! From what I gather, both YouTube and Roku are keen to expand the availability to additional models in the future. However, for the time-being, they decided to launch this channel on the flagship Roku player and go from there. At this stage it is unclear exactly which other Roku models will be able to add the new 'YouTube' channel but, in any event, UK Roku owners with an original Roku LT / Roku 2 XS or the newer Roku 1 / Roku 2 models can still watch YouTube videos on their streaming media players using either the 'Plex', 'Twonky' or 'Facebook Photos & Video' channels (all of which are free) as well as 'PlayOn' which (although it does require a payment) will provide access to far more content.

INNOVATIVE TURKISH.............................COST: £0.69 (MONTHLY) [Roku Guide Review]

INNOVATIVE HINDI...................................COST: £0.69 (MONTHLY) [Roku Guide Review]

GO INDIE TV FREEVIEW..................................................COST: FREE [Roku Guide Review]

SKATE LIFE.........................................................................COST: FREE [Roku Guide Review]

KOSHER METAL................................................................COST: FREE [Roku Guide Review]

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

INNOVATIVE PORTUGUESE....................COST: £0.69 (MONTHLY) [Roku Guide Review]

INNOVATIVE POLISH................................COST: £0.69 (MONTHLY) [Roku Guide Review]

SOMYEOL HD............................COST: £1.49 (ONE-OFF PAYMENT) [Roku Guide Review]

PLEASE NOTE:- As of April 2014, this game is SUPPORTED ON BOTH ROKU 2 XS AND ROKU 3 PLAYERS !!! Originally it was released with support for the 'Roku 3' model only but the developers said, at that time, they were keen to expand the availability to additional Roku player models in the future. Fortunately they have started to make good on that promise, with the original Roku UK flagship player being the first to benefit from the addition of this game channel. I should also point out that the 'Holiday Sale' price (quoted above) which included a discount of 33% OFF the normal selling price NO LONGER APPLIES so purchasers of the game will now have to pay £1.99 for it. Even so, it's still pretty good value for money and a worthy addition to the selection of games that are available on the 'Roku 2 XS' and 'Roku 3' players which now both feature in excess of fifty game titles !!

As you'll see from the channel description, essentially what you're getting for your money is a family-friendly 2D Puzzle Platform Game which comes across like a mix of 'Super Mario Bros' & 'Lemmings'. There are a handful of screenshots included in the Roku Channel Store details but, in my opinion, you'll get a much better feel for the game from this short video:- 

HINT: Owners of the 'Roku 2 XS' player can always use the 'Twonky' or 'Plex' channels to access 'YouTube' and watch the above video on their television PLUS, if you happen to own one of the newer 'Roku 3' players, you can even USE THE NEW 'YouTube' CHANNEL TO WATCH THIS VIDEO on the big screen. If you launch the channel on your 'Roku 3' streaming media player and perform a SEARCH FOR 'Somyeol HD' you should be able to find it easily enough. It's only 41 seconds long, so it won't take up too much of your time, and if you do decide to watch it on your Roku-connected television you'll be able to see more clearly what the game will look like when it's up & running on the big screen before deciding whether to purchase it & give it a try for yourself !!

ALSO: If you visit the OFFICIAL WEBSITE of Somyeol you can also purchase a cross-platform DRM-free version of the game (compatible with both Windows & Android) for just $2.99 which can be paid for using either PayPal or Amazon Payments. Apparently, a Mac OS version is in the pipeline for future release too. Meanwhile, if you'd like to connect with the developers of 'Somyeol HD' for the Roku streaming media player, then you can do so through their Twitter Feed: @somyeolgame or else, get social via: Somyeol (Facebook) where you'll find all the latest news and can request hints & tips !!

RADIO'S CLASSIC BROADCASTS..................................COST: FREE [Roku Guide Review]

ARTKICK..............................................................................COST: FREE [Roku Guide Review]

PLEASE NOTE:- That the 'Artkick' channel for Roku is designed to work in conjunction with the 'Artkick' app for either iOS (version 6.0 & later) or Android (version 3.2 & up) mobile devices. The idea being that you use this device combination to turn your HDTV into an interactive picture frame with the mobile device acting as a remote control for casting images onto your television. You can DOWNLOAD these FREE APPS for your particular mobile operating system VIA THESE LINKS:-


Essentially, YOU CHOOSE WHAT TO DISPLAY on your big screen from either a single image (displayed over a prolonged period) or to "play" a wide range of images from the assortment of 'Viewlists' that are available. You can even create your own 'Viewlists' and share them with friends. The developers envision a future where infinite interchangeable art on flat-screen panels replaces the 'static' art of today, allowing the art in your home to fit your mood, or the interests of your guests, and become anything you might imagine... all at the touch or swipe of a button. With the cost of entry-level HDTV's already approaching that of framing a fine art poster of comparable size, this could well do for larger scale art what the digital photo frame did for photography... A GREAT CONCEPT !!

Meanwhile, if you'd like to discover more about 'Artkick', you can always visit their Official Website which you will find VIA THIS LINK and where you can find out exactly "How It Works" if any of the above is unclear. Those of you wishing to connect with the developers of the 'Artkick' channel for Roku can do so using their Twitter Feed: @Artkicktv or else get social via: Artkick TV (Facebook)

ALFADY TV CHANNEL....................................................COST: FREE [Roku Guide Review]

N.B. Since this channel does not currently (and is unlikely to) feature in the Roku (USA) Channel Store, the link above is for the Official Website of the 'Alfady TV Channel' which, incidentally, offers Arabic-language religious programming. Those of you who are fluent in Arabic can also connect with the 'Alfady TV Channel' via their Twitter Feed: @alfadytv or else, get social with them through their Official Facebook Page: Alfady TV (Facebook). To find out what kind of programmes are broadcast and when, there's a handy PROGRAMME SCHEDULE showing recent listings that is complete with individual clock displays for the various time zones in which the channel is likely to be viewed. 

PLEASE ALSO NOTE:- That, due to the fact that the 'Alfady TV Channel' has not yet been (and is unlikely to ever be) added to the "Official" Roku USA Channel Store, there is no Roku Guide Review available. If, however, this situation does change, I will (of course) add a link to this post.

LE GOURMET TV...............................................................COST: FREE [Roku Guide Review]

MEDIA BROWSER..............................................................COST: FREE [Roku Guide Review]

PLEASE NOTE:- That, in order to use this channel to browse, control and play all of your locally-stored content via your Roku player, YOU WILL NEED to have the MEDIA BROWSER SERVER installed and running on your local network. If you don't yet have it, you can easily DOWNLOAD the 'Media Browser Server' software VIA THIS LINK and then choose from a range of 'client' applications from which to access your media. The SYSTEM REQUIREMENTS for the 'Media Browser Server' (which must be setup on a PC running Windows 7, 8 or 8.1, Server 2008 or 2012, WHS 2011) can be FOUND HERE but please bear in mind that, if more client applications are added, you are going to need more processing power (than these minimum requirements) to run things smoothly.


So, whether it's entertaining yourselves with the huge variety of content available on YouTube, from music video playlists to your favourite comedy channels, plus the option to stream videos from your mobile device on the biggest screen in the house, or turning your television into an interactive picture frame, or learning new languages in a fast, fun & easy way as well as getting culture tips for the countries that speak them, or the ability to browse, control & play all of your locally-stored content via your Roku player, discovering gourmet food, recipes & wine tips brought to you by a passionate group of culinary professionals, or enjoying motorcycle & chopper culture (incl. adventure motorcycling, Harley Davidsons, travel videos & motorcycle build videos), watching commercial-free cutting edge independent films, dramas, comedies, sports & family programming from respected and award-winning Indie Producers & Directors, having access to Arabic-language religious programming, watching music videos from independent & label bands, parodies & more, or listening to thousands of broadcasts from radio's golden years, or learning about skateboard culture through a collection of videos, or (perhaps) even sharpening your wits with some classic 2D platform puzzler gaming action along the lines of Super Mario Bros. & Lemmings... we've pretty much got all of those bases covered with this latest batch of NEW ADDITIONS to the "Official" 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 twenty-one new 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 fifteen channels outlined above. If not, then you'll just 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 nineteen '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 has been ONLY ONE NEW CHANNEL ADDED to the Roku Channel Store on the NowTV Box SINCE THE PRODUCT LAUNCHED. Still, with darkness falling on their tumbleweed xmas tree, let's now just enjoy the lights & forget about the lack of new channels for a moment...

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



What struck me from the above photo is how it echoes the inevitable 'Blue Christmas' that lies in store for all those NowTV Box owners with no new channels to enjoy on Christmas Day. Perhaps it's also no coincidence that the blog the photo was taken from is called "Desert Passion" which, if you think about it, is actually an anagram for "Depression Sat"... just like all those NowTV Box owners parked in front of the TV with nothing 'new' on "the box"?!! Consequently, it's likely to be of no surprise to any of you that (as with EVERY WEEK BAR ONE 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 (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 FIFTEEN EXTRA CHANNELS during that same period of time. To keep things firmly in perspective, in the twenty-one weeks since the launch of the NowTV Box, there has been a total of ONE HUNDRED AND NINETY-FOUR EXTRA CHANNELS added to the "Official" Roku Channel Store on UK Roku players, as compared with ONE EXTRA CHANNEL being added to the Roku Channel Store on the streaming player from NowTV. That, surely, must tell you something ?!!!

Unfortunately it seems to be a case of one step forward and three steps back when it comes to the meagre selection of channels available in the Roku Channel Store which features on the streaming media player from NowTV. To illustrate my point... from the moment that the NowTV Box was launched, they have managed to completely lose 'EWTN Europe', 'WatchIndia' and 'USTV Now', with 'HooplaKidz' plus 'Havoc Television' electing to hide out in the "Most Popular" channels category and  'VEVO' going completely AWOL from the channel store all together (although it will still be listed among "My Channels" if you happen to have added it previously)... presumably they all went into hiding from the embarrassment associated with the lack of channels in their original channel store categories on the NowTV Box - and who can blame them for that, poor things ?!!

Sadly, this means that there is still a total of just 46 CHANNELS to be found in the NowTV Box version of the Roku Channel Store PLUS the 'NOW TV' and 'Sky Store' channels, but (let's not forget) they are only there by default and not included with the apps (i.e. channels) in the Roku Channel Store on the NowTV Box. So, leaving aside the "Most Popular" channels and any additional channels listed under "My Channels" (as I do with my channel count for the Roku player), when it comes to the actual Roku Channel Store categories on the NowTV Box, there remains no more than a paltry 44 channels in total, compared with 700+ in the channel store on UK Roku players !!!

Bearing this in mind... whilst the NowTV Box won't exactly leave you out-of-pocket, and should serve well as a cheap stocking filler, if you are after a streaming media player which can genuinely boast of "more apps being continually added" and is a lot less likely to leave you wanting by the time that the January sales have ended, then I strongly advise you to 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) as well as having the 'Plex' channel readily available via the channel store and will give you more than 670 EXTRA CHANNELS TO CHOOSE FROM compared with the selection (currently) found on a 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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