Saturday, February 8, 2014

Roku UK Channel Store - Weekly RoundUp #48

Hi, everyone !!

Over the course of the past six months or so, there has been a trio of media streamers emerging from the pack to become what many people now consider "THE  3 MOST POPULAR STREAMERS" on the market. The products in question are the Roku 3, Apple TV and Google Chromecast although, as far as the UK is concerned, it's really a toss-up between the Roku 3 and the Apple TV as to which media player is "King Of The Ring" when it comes to instant streaming at this precise point in time. Those of you who follow the companion Twitter Feed to this blog: @ukrokuchannels will likely recall my repeated referrals to the CNET 'Prizefight' video between 'Roku 3' and 'Apple TV (3rd gen)' whenever the question was raised as to which of the two was the better streamer. Given that the 'Roku 3' came out on top when the video was published a year ago, even without a native 'YouTube' app, it was an obvious choice for me to present the merits of the flagship player from Roku over it's chief rival. That said, once 'YouTube' was added to the 'Roku 3' in December 2013, I found myself having to qualify that fact whenever the CNET video was mentioned because the criticism surrounding the absence of 'YouTube' was no longer valid for the 'Roku 3' at that point. On several occasions I considered asking CNET to have the two heavyweight streamers "get in the ring" to slug it out for supremacy once again and, to my surprise, they did just that during this past week:-

With the title in their hands for the second year in a row, Roku remain ahead of their rivals in the battle for instant streaming supremacy and, it has to be said, they managed to do so even more convincingly this time around than they did last year. So, it seems "CONGRATULATIONS!" are (yet again) in order for the folks at Roku who came up trumps once more amidst stiff competition from Apple who, despite several improvements in the content available for Apple TV, still have lots of catching-up to do if they want to compete with 'Roku 3' for an HDMI port on your TV !!

In other Roku-related news, there was a SPECIAL ANNOUNCEMENT from 'NowTV' concerning the release of a 'NowTV Beta' app for Android mobile devices (incl. tablets) which has been modified from the original 'NowTV' app for Android to include access to the 'Entertainment Month Pass'. They have also expanded their LIST OF SUPPORTED ANDROID DEVICES meaning the channel is now compatible with more than thirty models. However, they are keen to point out that the 'NowTV Beta' app WILL NOT WORK ON ANY "ROOTED" ANDROID DEVICES but added that it should work on any non-rooted Android tablet that meets the required specification:-

  • Operating System: Android 4.0 (or above)
  • Processor (CPU): 1.0 GHz (or higher)
  • Memory (RAM) 1GB (or higher)
  • Screen Resolution: 480x800 (or higher)

So, if you haven't yet reached your device limit for 'NowTV', by adding multiple Roku players or NowTV Boxes, and happen to own a compatible Android mobile device (that has not been rooted) then you may want to visit the 'Google Play Store' VIA THIS LINK to take advantage of this latest FREE DOWNLOADABLE APP from the kind folks at 'NowTV'. Doubtless this news will prove to be equally as popular among Roku owners with an Android device as it will with the tens of thousands of people who purchased a Tesco Hudl during the past few months that has just been added to the list of supported Android devices (linked to above) since it will enable them to enjoy all of the services from 'NowTV', without the need for a contract, wherever they may happen to be. No need to drag the kids (or your significant other) kicking & screaming from your Roku-Connected TV, when it's time to go... just switch to the 'NowTV' app on your Android device and they can carry on watching happily !!

Meanwhile, ACCORDING TO THIS ARTICLE, we could soon be spoilt for choice when it comes to "Themes" on our Roku players as well, since Roku is now proposing to open up the 'Home Screen' to third party developers. Let's just hope that there's a healthy proportion of FREE-TO-ADD themes being developed so that it's not merely an attempt by Roku to further line their coffers by expecting payment for something they originally gave FREE-OF-CHARGE to Roku purchasers.

Anyway that's about it for Roku news this week but, before we get onto the LATEST ADDITIONS to the "Official" Roku UK Channel Store, let's offer up some speculative thoughts to balance out those news stories... specifically, I'm going to go out on a limb and say that Roku will announce 'YouTube' for additional models by way of a 'Valentines Day' gift, in much the same way that they made 'Roku 3' owners a present of 'YouTube' in the run up to the holiday season back in December 2013. There, I said it. It's not fact, it's just "a feeling" based on those mysterious "appearances" I mentioned in the Roku Channel Store listings on both iOS & Android Roku remote apps. Now, let's wait and see if I'm right... or, if I'm just doing my bit to keep the rumour mill turning until it does become a reality !!

PLUS... DON'T FORGET:- there is still a chance for you to WIN ONE OF TEN 'Roku 2' PLAYERS by voting in the Guardian Film Awards 2014 and you can access the voting form VIA THIS LINK but be sure to submit your entry by no later than NOON on 16th FEBRUARY 2014 in order to qualify. You'll find details of all the other prizes available, as well as confirmation of the rules, by following the above link. GOOD LUCK to anyone that enters... let's hope that both the '4oD' and 'YouTube' channels have been added to the 'Roku 2' player by the time you get your prize, if you're a winner !!

Anyway, let's now press on with the details for the current 'Weekly RoundUp' of NEW ADDITIONS to the "Official" Roku UK Channel Store. This time, there are THREE 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 Games, Internet TV plus Religion & Spirituality genres.

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:-

PROPEL MAN.......................................COST: £1.99 (ONE-OFF PAYMENT) [Roku Guide Review]

PLEASE NOTE:- As with 'Coconut Dodge' (see "Roku UK Channel Store - Weekly RoundUp #47" published last week) this game is currently ONLY AVAILABLE FOR ROKU 3 PLAYERS !!! The avid gamers among you may well recall 'Propel Man' from it's previous incarnations on the Apple iOS platform for both iPhone & iPad, where it was first launched in April 2012, as well as Windows Phone and (more recently) BlackBerry mobile devices. If you're not familiar with the game, but would like to know more, you'll find a dedicated website VIA THIS LINK and there's an opportunity to connect with other players via the Official Twitter Feed: @propelman or else, you can get social via the Official Facebook Page: Propel Man (Facebook).

As you'll see from the channel description (via the Roku website), what you're getting for your money is a family-friendly 2D Platform Action Game in which you use a catapult to dispatch 'Propel Man' to dizzying heights in the sky & cross each of the 30 levels by landing safely past the finish line from deploying your parachute. There are a handful of screenshots in the Roku Channel Store details (on Roku 3 players) and you can get a rough idea of what to expect from the 'Promo Video' included in the 'Roku Guide' review (see link above) but, in my opinion, you'll get a much better feel for the game from this 'YouTube' video review by Mike Flaminio of IGM (Insanely Great Mac):- 

HINT: If you happen to own a Roku 3, which (as I said) you'll need to have in order to add/play this game, you could even USE THE NEW 'YouTube' CHANNEL TO WATCH THIS VIDEO on the big screen. If you launch the channel on your Roku 3 and perform a SEARCH FOR 'Propel Man new game for iPhone, iPad with Retina Display Support' you should be able to find it easily enough. It's just under five minutes 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 for yourself !!

EMMANUEL CHURCH WINDHOEK...........................................COST: FREE [Roku Guide Review]

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

PLEASE NOTE:- That there is not a "typo" (i.e. spelling mistake) in the channel name (above) which links to the description of the channel from the "Official" Roku website but, rather, the "error" stems from the image for the channel icon (itself) as anyone who visits the "Official" Weekester Website HERE can attest. In fact, once you launch the channel on your Roku player, all of the sub-menu layers then use the correct spelling of 'Weekester'... should further proof be necessary. For those of you who are not yet familiar with the 'Weekester' service, it's a multi-platform RSS consolidator capable of managing your RSS feeds across Android, iPhone, Tablets & Opera TV (as well as Roku) and is "optimized" for mobile viewing, using your browser of choice. Consequently, no application is needed for most devices (as a browser will suffice) but, to send any imported RSS feeds to your Roku player, you will first need to add the 'Weekester' channel and SIGN-UP for a 'Weekester' account VIA THIS LINK as well as activating your Roku player for use with your 'Weekester' account. Instructions showing "How To" get your Roku setup for use with the 'Weekester' service can be FOUND HERE together with help & advice on importing RSS feeds to your 'Weekester' account. Meanwhile, if you have an idea for improving 'Weekester' you can leave your thoughts & suggestions on the USER FORUM where there are links to 'Contact Support' and 'Leave Feedback' as well as vote for other "Top Ideas" from the community and view any recently updated ideas.


Still, whether it's sharing the beliefs of a Christ-centered & spirit-driven church, with a passion for the lost & broken, endeavouring to reach out and impact the local neighbourhood as well as the nation & the rest of the world,  or sending imported RSS feeds from a multi-platform RSS consolidator to a special channel which then functions as a "reader" on your Roku player or (perhaps) even shooting to glory in a fun & addictive game, where timing is the key, and you must hit the right angles with 4 types of catapult whilst making strategic use of rocket boosters to fly farther & faster across 30 levels of ever-increasing distances & varied obstacles landing safely by parachute... we've pretty much got all that covered with these NEW ADDITIONS to the "Official" Roku UK Channel Store.

Anyway, like it or not, that is your lot for this week and whilst we haven't managed to exceed their total, we did at least match the number of new channels which made it into the "Official" Roku USA Channel Store during the same time-frame (there were three, in case you lost count). So, as you can see, it's been a fairly quiet week... but, whether you're a UK Roku owner, or you happen to stream your Roku channels on the other side of "The Pond", it's far better to have SOME NEW CHOICES rather than none at all, as I'm sure you will all agree ?!!

That said, hopefully everyone in the UK and the USA with a Roku player managed to find something they like within the three channels added this week. 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, like I always say, when it comes to adding new channels to Roku, IT'S YOUR CHOICE and, as with all things Roku... THE CHOICE IS ALWAYS YOURS !!


By way of AN EXTRA BONUS for you, this week, one of the channels that was added to the "Official" Roku (USA) Channel Store during the past seven days has, thankfully, since been amended so as to make it available on Roku UK players. Whilst it may take up to another week (or perhaps even longer) for the "Public" version of the channel to be approved for the "Official" Roku UK Channel Store, the developer has kindly provided me with the ACCESS CODE for the "Private" version of the channel so Roku owners in the UK can add & use the channel on UK Roku players in the meantime. To give you an idea of what the channel is about, I'm including links to the official channel description from the Roku website, as well as the 'Roku Guide' review for the channel, beneath the channel icon... just as I would for any other NEW CHANNELS whenever they are featured in my 'Weekly RoundUp' posts on this blog:-

MADDY GTV FREE..............................................................COST: FREE [Roku Guide Review]

Essentially... what you're getting is a FREE-TO-ADD and FREE-TO-VIEW channel, described as being "like HBO for weirdo's", whose content features all original award-winning independent movies & television shows for thinking adults. As such, the videos include adult-themed content which may contain nudity, adult language, graphic violence and/or explicit humour so, needless to say, the channel is INTENDED FOR ADULTS ONLY and viewer discretion is therefore advised !!!!!

Those of you wishing to ADD THIS PRIVATE CHANNEL to your UK Roku players can do so by entering the ACCESS CODE shown below, via the "Add a Private Channel" option in your online Roku account, after which it will be added to the list of 'My Channels' on your Roku Home Screen:-


Alternatively, you can USE THE DIRECT LINK which has been PROVIDED BELOW to navigate to the correct page on the Roku website where, after signing-in to your Roku Account, you will be asked to confirm whether or not to add 'MaddyGTV Free' to your account:-

DIRECT LINK: Add 'MaddyGTV Free'

Don't worry if all that sounds too complicated for you because, as I said before, you will soon be able to add this channel via the Roku Channel Store on your UK Roku player(s) and need only wait for a future 'Weekly RoundUp' on this blog to confirm exactly when it can be added from there directly. However, those of you who'd like to get a 'sneak preview' of the channel on UK Roku players can at least now do so, courtesy of the above access code for the "Private" version of 'MaddyGTV Free' !!!


Meanwhile, for my last twenty-six '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. Moreover, it seems that this sustained lack of creativity is even being embraced by NowTV, with tumbleweed now adorning their work clothing...

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


DESIGN CREDIT: Laura Kathleen

Rumours that this has become the designated attire for NowTV representatives in shopping centres across the nation have yet to be substantiated. Other sources have suggested that this clothing was produced as part of a growing protest movement, started by NowTV Box owners who were becoming increasingly unhappy & frustrated at the lack of new channels being added to the Roku Channel Store on the streaming media player from NowTV. Either way, we can confirm that this design is (currently) available for purchase at £27.95 from the 'Zazzle Store' of Laura Kathleen HERE so, if you wish to make a statement (whatever that may be) by wearing this, you now know where to get it. Mind you, for that amount of money you could equally just forget about the lack of channels on the NowTV Box and use it to buy an original Roku LT (currently STILL ONLY £29.97 in Currys & PC World). Then, instead of bemoaning the lack of channels, you'd be celebrating the fact that your Roku LT offers 700+ EXTRA CHANNELS to choose from than your NowTV Box managed thus far.

Meanwhile, 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 a further THREE EXTRA CHANNELS during that same period of time. To keep things firmly in perspective, in the twenty-eight weeks since the launch of the NowTV Box, there has been a total of TWO HUNDRED AND FORTY-NINE EXTRA CHANNELS added to the Roku Channel Store on UK Roku players, as compared with ONE EXTRA CHANNEL being added to the Roku Channel Store on the NowTV Box. That, surely, must tell you something ?!!!

Like I've said in previous weeks, it seems to be a case of one step forward and two 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 'WatchIndia' and 'USTV Now', with 'HooplaKidz' plus 'VEVO' electing to hide out in the "Most Popular" channels category and 'Havoc Television' 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 47 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 45 channels in total, compared with 750+ in the channel store on UK Roku players !!!

Bearing this in mind... whilst the NowTV Box won't exactly leave you out-of-pocket, 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 you settle-in for a romantic movie on Valentine's Day, 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 700 EXTRA CHANNELS TO CHOOSE FROM when 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 !!

No comments:

Post a Comment