Saturday, April 5, 2014

Roku UK Channel Store - Weekly RoundUp #56





Hi, everyone !!



With the clocks going forward last Sunday, marking the start of British Sumer Time (BST) - at least as far as the time zones are concerned - and the month of March coming to an end to make way for the start of April you could feel the mood getting lighter (as well as the evenings) as the week went on. Never ones to miss an opportunity for a good jape, those loveable rogues at Roku saw fit to maintain what has become their now annual tradition of launching a "new product" for April 31st by releasing details, VIA THIS INTRODUCTION, on the "Official" Roku blog to the 'Roku Watch':- 






Unfortunately the introduction to the new 'Roku Watch', if you hadn't already guessed from the "release date" of 'April 31st' (ahem!), turned out to be nothing more than the latest in a long-running series of prank product launches from Roku in honour of April Fools' Day. This latest spoof from our favourite tricksters follows on from the 'Roku Streaming Shades', ANNOUNCED VIA THIS POST, scheduled for release on 31st April 2013 which never materialised (though I often wish they had!):-





PLUS... let's not forget the infamous 'Roku Shake Remote' with the chrome-plated Roku "weights" on either end, INTRODUCED HERE, that were originally due to be on the market by 31st April 2012 but (unsurprisingly), as with all product "UPDATES" around this time of year, also turned out to be fake:-






Of course, despite being little more than "tech pranks" designed to raise a smile & generate a few laughs on April Fools' Day, one or two of these "products" may even have proved to be popular if they had turned out to be genuine. Now I'm not suggesting that the 'Roku Shake Remote' would have won any awards like the 'Roku 3' has done (on several occasions) but, with one or two minor differences, I may have been tempted to get a 'Roku Watch' this year. In fact, despite acknowledging it as a joke, I even mentioned via the companion Twitter Feed to this blog (@ukrokuchannels) that if they employed a touchscreen (rather than a regular remote) and used some kind of 'Mohu Leaf' flat antenna technology for the wrist strap (instead of the telescopic aerial) to pull in those HDTV signals, I'd have been sold !!


Leaving aside those "prank products" for a moment, those of you who happened to read my previous post, 'Roku UK Channel Store - Weekly RoundUp #55', may recall that there is actually a genuinely new Roku device currently shipping in Canada and the USA. This latest streaming media player comes in the shape of the NEW ROKU STREAMING STICK (HDMI Version) and, in case you'd forgotten, it is also DUE TO START SHIPPING IN THE UK on or around 21st April 2014 which, according to my calendar, is a little over TWO WEEKS FROM NOW and, I have to say, the time cannot go quick enough for me as I'm keen to see how this Roku Streaming Stick performs. The other reason I'm eager for that date to come around is because I believe it will also mark the arrival of the latest software update (to Version 5.4) for other Roku UK models which could, in turn, mean that we finally get to see the "Official" 'YouTube' Roku channel added to the likes of the 'Roku1' and 'Roku 2' as well as the original UK Roku players (i.e. the 'Roku LT' and the 'Roku 2 XS' models). Let's hope so, anyway !!


Speaking of the new Roku Streaming Stick, there have been one or two comments made concerning a potential issue with certain televisions where users experienced difficulties when attempting to plug-in their device(s) because of where the HDMI ports are situated. This came to light when I was reading through the customer reviews, FOUND HERE, on the "Official" Roku website. If you scroll through the reviews you will see that this was not just one isolated incident but, rather, there were half a dozen or more reports (among the thirty or so reviews posted) which mentioned the problem. To illustrate my point, here is an example of just one of them:-



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


Fortunately for those purchasers of the new 'Roku Streaming Stick (HDMI version)' that were affected by this issue, and subsequently reported it, the response from Roku was both a prompt and positive one. Essentially, what they have said is that anyone experiencing this issue when attempting to install their new 'Roku Streaming Stick (HDMI version)' should "SEND AN EMAIL TO: help@roku.com" using the subject line "Roku Streaming Stick HDMI Extender" and in it provide a written request for Roku to send you a FREE HDMI EXTENDER then, if you INCLUDE YOUR POSTAL ADDRESS, they will send one to you "at no cost", i.e. COMPLETELY FREE-OF-CHARGE, to get you up & running as soon as possible. This was, more or less, the same advice given in every customer review that I came across which mentioned the issue. For verification purposes, here's a selection of the "Response from Roku" to those customers who reported this problem when attempting to plug-in their Roku Stick:-















There were, as I said, other similar responses but the advice given was fairly consistent throughout. However, given that these responses were all related to Roku products which had shipped in the USA and Canada, I wondered whether the same level of support would be afforded to UK buyers opting to purchase the new Roku Streaming Stick when it is eventually available in-store and also shipped to UK addresses (in the case of all UK pre-orders for the device) on or around 21st April 2014. So, to clarify matters, I decided to send the following tweet to Roku and ask them about it:- 






I also enquired as to whether the email address would be the same for UK purchasers who wanted to request a FREE HDMI EXTENDER to be sent to them and, as you will see from the screenshot below, the response was (again) a positive one:-






So, as promised in my reply to Roku on Twitter, consider yourselves duly informed of this poitential issue and of what you need to do to get hold of a FREE HDMI EXTENDER for your new Roku Streaming Stick when you eventually get your hands on it later this month. REMEMBER: This offer has been made by Roku (themselves) and you should expect to receive it "AT NO COST TO YOU" assuming Roku are going to honour this for purchasers in the UK as they have promised to. What is unclear, at the moment, is whether these free HDMI extenders are to be shipped from somewhere in the UK (e.g. mediastreamingmarket.com) or if they will be shipped here from the USA or elsewhere. Given that it's (currently) not possible to have replacement remotes, etc. shipped to the UK from the USA, however, I'd say it's more likely that there will be a UK supplier involved. Needless to say, if I hear any more on this issue, I will (of course) keep you informed via this blog.


Although (most likely) not relevant for the UK version (i.e. Model 3500EU) of the new Roku Streaming Stick, I also came across an interesting observation from one new owner of the device when used in conjunction with the FREE ROKU ANDROID APP that, effectively, means the Roku Stick has a MORE POWERFUL "VOICE SEARCH" FUNCTION than the new 'Fire TV' from Amazon. Here is another screenshot from the customer reviews of the new Roku Streaming Stick (HDMI version) posted on the "Official" Roku website, to illustrate my point:- 



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



Effectively, this means that you are getting a truly cross-platform "voice search" using the far better 'Search' function on the Roku Streaming Stick (via the FREE Roku Android App) for your an initial investment of just $49.00 than you would otherwise get from using the much-touted "voice search" included as part of the remote functionality on the Amazon Fire TV at twice the price, i.e. $99.00 !!
In fact from what I've read, IN THIS ARTICLE, by Dave Smith on the 'ReadWrite' website the new "Fire TV" from Amazon is not all that it's cracked-up to be anyway and with FURTHER PROOF from what Brian Barrett has written on "Why Roku Matters More Than Ever", especially now that Amazon has entered the fray, this could prove vital in Roku's fight against the competition. Have a read of the article, FOUND HERE, on the 'Gizmodo' website and you'll see what I mean.


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 FOURTEEN 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, News, Weather, Sport, Music, Internet TV, International, Special Interest, Screensavers & Apps, 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 (where available) with an independent (slightly more expansive) assessment of each one:-







SNAG XTREME.....................................................................COST: FREE [Roku Guide Review]






LEHIGH VALLEY BAPTIST CHURCH.............................COST: FREE [Roku Guide Review]






SCREEN DREAMS - AQUARIUMS..........COST: £1.49 (ONE-OFF PAYMENT) [Roku Guide Review]






THE BAHAMAS CHANNEL...............................................COST: FREE [Roku Guide Review]






MILITARY CHRONICLE.............COST: £2.49 (ONE-OFF PAYMENT) [Roku Guide Review]






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


N.B. For some (as yet) unknown reason the 'Madha TV' 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 "Religion & Spirituality", or (perhaps) the "International" genre, 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 Cherri Technologies, 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. They have published an ACCESS CODE: UKXSZA for their PUBLIC CHANNEL which should remain valid, even after the channel is removed from the "New" category, but let's hope they give it a more permanent home in the "Official" Roku UK Channel Store rather than making UK Roku owners go online to add the channel via the "Add a private channel" option in their Roku account(s).


PLEASE ALSO NOTE:- That 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 'Madha TV' channel which, incidentally, claims to be the first Catholic Tamil / South Indian channel in India. Fortunately for the rest of us, their website happens to be written in the English language which will (hopefully) not prove to be too much of a problem for members of the Tamil community. Still, no matter whether you happen to be fluent in English or Tamil, you can easily connect with the 'Madha TV' channel via their Twitter Feed: @MadhaTV or else, get social with them through the Official Facebook Page: Madha TV (Facebook). Meanwhile, for those of you who'd rather not use social media to communicate, there's always their postal & email addresses as well as their phone number(s) listed, IN THE CONTACT INFO, on their website. AS AN ADDED BONUS, if you are lucky enough to have access to an Android mobile device (running Version 2.0.1 & Up) then you might also like to take advantage of the Madha TV Android App which is available from the Google Play Store. Alternatively, anyone with a Windows Phone (running versions 7.5, 8 or 8.1) can install the Madha TV Windows Phone App to have access to the 'Madha TV'channel whenever they are away from their Roku player.


FYI - The channel description for the 'Madha TV' channel on UK Roku players states that use of the channel "May require additional fees" although, from what I can tell, the channel is FREE-TO-ADD and the (current) content, which consists of the same high / low quality streams available on the official website for 'Madha TV', is FREE-TO-VIEW as well. It may be that the "additional fees" message was just leaving the door open for possible paid content in the future but, for now at least, you can watch either of the TWO LIVE STREAMS for 'Madha TV' FREE-OF-CHARGE on your Roku player.


ADDITIONALLY:- Due to the fact that the 'Madha 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. HOWEVER... Roku owners in the USA & CANADA do have an opportunity to watch 'Madha TV' on their streaming media players because they CAN INSTALL THE 'Madha TV' PRIVATE CHANNEL by going into their online Roku account(s) and USING ACCESS CODE: S5N7YR via the "Add a private channel" option to add the channel that way and avoid missing out needlessly because of the deal with Dishworld over "International" channels in the Roku Channel Stores for those regions !!







IN THE FIGHT................................................COST: £1.49 (MONTHLY) [Roku Guide Review]






THE MONACO CHANNEL.................................................COST: FREE [Roku Guide Review]






TOONTIME 2..........................................................................COST: FREE [Roku Guide Review]






QELLO CONCERTS.........COST: FREE (7-DAY TRIAL) + $4.99 (MONTHLY) [Roku Guide Review]






CATEGORY5 TECHNOLOGY TV.....................................COST: FREE [Roku Guide Review]






STOP IT OR YOU'LL GO BLIND!............COST: £0.69 (ONE-OFF PAYMENT) [Roku Guide Review]






RAW COUNTRY....................................................................COST: FREE [Roku Guide Review]






USASF.............COST: FREE (HIGHLIGHTS) + $45.00 (FULL VOD ACCESS) [Roku Guide Review]




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So whether it's kicking back to a specialist music channel, showcasing a variety of country music talent from across the USA and around the world, or "tooning-in" for some classic black & white cartoons (presented in a continuous broadcast format) drawn from an archive of over 25,000 movies, cartoons & television episodes, geeking-out to a HUGE FREE ARCHIVE of tech broadcasts (feat. cool gadgets, Linux, Open Source & more), appreciating the comedic value of some vintage sex-ed propaganda films from the 1940's to the 1970's, or planning a trip to Monaco or the Bahamas using the two dedicated channels featuring all the stunning tourist attractions, beautiful sights & cultural information you could wish for, getting a FREE 7-DAY TRIAL of an UNLIMITED ALL-ACCESS PASS to the world's largest collection of full-length HD concerts and music documentaries on demand (feat. everyone from BeyoncĂ© to Nirvana and Lady GaGa to B.B. King, plus Green Day, Ray Charles, Meat Loaf, U2, The Doors, Rolling Stones & many more), or enjoying free highlights from some of the top cheer and dance performances plus paid access to additional Video-On-Demand (VOD) content from the U.S. All Star Federation, or nourishing your faith via a selection of religious programming (including pre-recorded shows as well as live streams), cranking up the movie-action with some zombie mayhem, sexy thrills, extreme sports and insane carnage, or immersing yourself in a chronicle of military history, comprised of 240+ historical films and video documentaries covering a wide range of combat operations from both before & after WWII, or a more modern collection of over 30 shows featuring the U.S. Military Forces in action from the front lines and across various global campaigns, or (perhaps) even chilling out to one of seven vibrant aquarium scenes, filled with either tropical or freshwater fish, whilst relaxing to any one of nine soothing audio soundtracks specially designed to augment the experience... 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 fourteen 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 !!



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In the meantime, for my last thirty-four '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. Although, from the look of things, that figure could be set to double with tumbleweed (again) providing the much-needed inspiration for...



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

IMAGE SOURCE: vitalvegas.com



At first glance, you could easily be forgiven for thinking that the tumbleweed blowing around the offices of the Roku channel developers at NowTV had finally ignited some creative spark which led to a game channel called "Tiny The Tumbleweed" but (of course) there is no "Games" category in the severely restricted version of the Roku Channel Store that features on the NowTV Box. There were also some suggestions that this may represent a caricature of the "cowboy" Roku channel developers employed by NowTV but these rumours have yet to be substantiated. Let's face it... they don't get too many opportunities to shout "Yee-haw", around the offices of NowTV, to herald the arrival of a new channel in the Roku Channel Store on the NowTV Box anyway. In fact, the above illustration came into being as the result of a lack of progress on the development front for something entirely unrelated to Roku channels as can be seen, FROM THIS ARTICLE, on the 'VitalVegas' website. It is (perhaps) not without a certain sense of irony that the stalled project which led to the creative illustration (shown above) is called "SkyVue" (or should that be "Sky View"?!!). Yes, REALLY... I kid you not !!! You just can't make this stuff up... it's pure comedy gold !!! Anyway the "SkyVue" project is, in reality, about a massive observation wheel (think "London Eye" and such like) as part of a large retail complex being built on the infamous Las Vegas Strip. Apparently the (ahem) development has "taken some hits in certain media circles because of a few minor (construction) delays, and some billing mishaps" which I'm sure customers of Sky / NowTV can relate to !! So, after some consideration, the people behind the "SkyVue" project decided to "reach out to the public with some warmth and humour" in the form of a new mascot, aka "Tiny The Tumbleweed", that they describe as "a loveable tumbleweed who is also a cowboy". Officials at "SkyVue" hope that giving their troubled project a more "human" face will help to quell the skeptics. Unfortunately, I can't say the same will hold true for NowTV although, of course, any resemblance of "Tiny The Tumbleweed" to a Roku channel developer or any other NowTV employee is entirely coincidental. What I think we can safely say is that, as with the opening of the "SkyVue" project,  the appearance of any "new" channels in the Roku Channel Store on NowTV Boxes is likely to happen sometime in "the indeterminate future" so, in other words, don't hold your breath - you heard it here first !!


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 FOURTEEN EXTRA CHANNELS during that same period of time. To keep things firmly in perspective, in the thirty-six weeks since the launch of the NowTV Box, there has been a total of THREE HUNDRED AND SEVENTY-THREE 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 '4oD' being  the one & only channel added to the Roku Channel Store on the NowTV Box since it launched !! At least the 'Havoc Television' channel (which, until a month ago, had been 'AWOL' for a very long time) and the 'VEVO' channel (which had been missing an "official" Roku Channel Store category on the NowTV Box for a similar period) have both stayed put for the past four weeks, having found their way back into the 'Music' genre (i.e. category) of the Roku Channel Store on the NowTV Box. Likewise... the other channel lacking an "official" Roku Channel Store category on the NowTV Box for quite some time, namely 'HooplaKidz Rhymes', remains part of "Internet TV".


Fortunately, this means there are still 48 CHANNELS to be found in the NowTV Box version of the Roku Channel Store PLUS the 'NOW TV' and 'Sky Store' channels which (as I said before) brings the overall total back to fifty channels (as there were at launch). Having said that (let's not forget) those two 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 48 channels in total, compared with 875+ 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 family movie over Easter, 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 825 EXTRA CHANNELS TO CHOOSE FROM when compared with the selection (currently) found on a NowTV Box.



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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 !!




1 comment:

  1. Great article. For those who live outside US like me, you can access Netflix, Hulu and similar media stations on your Roku by using UnoTelly or similar tools.

    ReplyDelete