Saturday, April 25, 2015

Roku UK Channel Store - Weekly RoundUp #111

Hi, everyone !!

The week began with a special announcement, VIA THIS POST, from the "Official" Roku Blog that the company CEO, Anthony Wood, would be taking part in a Reddit AMA on Wednesday 22nd April 2015 at 10pm (UK Time) and Roku-related questions were invited from users for the CEO to answer.

Knowing I would not be able to take part on that date, I tweeted a few suggestions as to the kind of questions other UK Roku users might want to put to Anthony Wood, concerning the use of Roku devices in the UK, in the hope that light might be shed on some long-standing issues. Here are some extracts from the Reddit AMA which I felt were most relevant from a UK perspective:-

First-off, the CEO introduced himself to the assembled masses...

HINT: Please CLICK on any images TO ENLARGE them for easier viewing! ;-)

Having answered a few queries from "other" regions, the BURNING QUESTION from a Roku UK perspective was "WHY NO "AMAZON INSTANT VIDEO" CHANNEL ON ROKU UK?!" and, as with all my own attempts to get an answer on that matter over the last three years, there was more than one occasion during the Reddit AMA where the "NO COMMENT" approach was utilised...

When the question was raised by 'John Meredith'...

... as per my own experience, no reply was forthcoming. No surprise there, really.

A similar approach by 'Lolworth', who again put forward the suggestion of NowTV as a possible reason for the continued absence of "Amazon Instant Video" from UK Roku devices, followed...

... and, as with the question from John (above), this (again) got no response from the Roku CEO.

Finally the silence was broken (sort of) when 'Dilre' asked the question, minus any reference to NowTV, as to when UK Roku owners might get access to 'Amazon Prime' on their devices...

... and Anthony Wood replied by saying that "Tricia" (who despite not being present) would not let him comment on future features. GREAT... JUST GREAT! Maybe they should have had Tricia answer the question if she's "pulling the strings" of the Roku CEO when it comes to the success (or not) of their products in "other" regions like UK?! As to the trailing comment, "...that sure sounds like something we need!", does Anthony Wood not consider that... having been asked for "Amazon Instant Video" repeatedly by UK Roku owners over the last three years, the "need" has been long since established and yet his company, i.e. ROKU, HAS DONE NOTHING TO ADDRESS IT !!

One need only have taken a look through the multitude of customer reviews for Roku products from the Amazon UK website to know the "need" for, and "disappointment" at the lack of, a Roku channel for "Amazon Instant Video" for UK Roku owners with (and without) 'Prime' memberships to access the content on offer from Amazon UK... just as USA Roku owners have been doing since before any Roku devices were even officially available to purchasers in this country. In other words, "Yes, Anthony, an 'Amazon Instant Video' channel is definitely something we need on UK Roku devices" !!

Sometimes I wonder if, other than bankrolling their business, Roku has any interest (or knowledge of what's happening with their products) in the UK because some of the responses in the Reddit AMA gave the impression that Anthony Wood does not include us when he talks about features being made available on ALL models of Roku player as if it's a "global" thing...

For example, if you recall my previous "Weekly RoundUp" post mentioning the lack of a certain new "Star Wars" theme on UK Roku devices (as enjoyed by USA Roku owners last weekend) you will no doubt feel as bewildered as I do about the comments surrounding the availability of this theme offered as part of a response on Wednesday night...

... and, in particular, the part where Anthony Wood says they "...temporarily turned on a Star Wars theme on all Rokus" because, to my mind, all Roku's would include those in Canada, Ireland and the UK as well as those in the USA which, sadly, was not the case in this instance. Furthermore, we don't have any "Themes" in the Roku UK Channel Store (or even a "Themes" category, come to that) and we certainly don't have the free "Game of Thrones" theme referred to above, either. Considering the "World Premiere" of the current season was held in London (England, UK) you'd think Roku UK users might have had the theme extended here too... right? Instead, UK users don't get a look-in!

If further proof were needed that the Roku CEO is not in tune with the "needs" of those using Roku products, consider the comments in (and responses to) this question from the Reddit AMA...

... and bear in mind that only a week before the Reddit AMA the folks behind a certain Kickstarter project, known as the "SideClick" remote, which works in conjunction with Roku remotes (as well as "Fire TV" and "Apple TV" remotes) made the following announcement via Twitter:-

... followed just one week later, barely two days after the Reddit AMA with the Roku CEO, by the followup announcement on Twitter proclaiming they had doubled the number of backers:-

Now, if there was no "need" for Roku users to (at the very least) be able to control the On/Off function, as well as the Up/Down volume adjustment, of their televisions (in addition to their Roku devices) then this Kickstarter project would never have gotten off the ground and you wouldn't get genuine Roku users like 'jftuga' asking for such features to be added to Roku devices. So, please... Anthony (and Tricia) take note of the very real "needs" of your customers and TAKE POSITIVE STEPS to address those needs, rather than leave your customers feeling like you're ignoring them. Yes, we "need" to get "Amazon Instant Video" on UK Roku devices... and, yes, there is a "need" to add TV controls for all Roku remotes (not just Roku TV) as well as several other "needs" mentioned in the Reddit AMA.

Meanwhile... those of you interested in the 'SideClick' remote can discover more about the project via their dedicated Kickstarter page, FOUND HERE, where you will find full details of how you can back this startup and support what (to my mind) is a worthy accessory for any Roku user to add to their device(s) / remote. Should you have any questions, feel free to tweet the folks behind the 'SideClick' remote(s) via their "Official" Twitter Feed: @sideclickremote for more information.

Speaking of accessories... that reminds me of another "need" for UK Roku users who, bizarrely, are unable to purchase "accessories" from Roku in the USA because they won't ship here. That being the case (which it is) you'd think that, since Media Streaming Market (i.e. Exertis Gem) handles all sales and distribution of UK Roku products, they would be well positioned to offer, sell & distribute any Roku "accessories" to UK Roku owners... but, no! That would be too easy, and provide far too much convenience for those of us who have invested in Roku products for UK use! So, come on Roku, stand by your products - regardless of which "region" they are sold in - and appoint Media Streaming Market as your UK "accessories" source for cables, remotes, earphones, etc. - not forgetting the FREE HDMI EXTENDERS which you promised would be made available to all purchasers of Roku Stick devices - because the "need" is as great for UK Roku users as it is for those in USA except that we (currently) are not having that "need" met by you for products which you have sold / continue to sell in UK.

Before I forget... between hearing the news from Roku (on Monday 20th) about the Reddit AMA, with Roku CEO Anthony Wood, and the event itself (on Wednesday 22nd) came a special announcement, VIA THIS POST, as to the availability of a new 'GoPro' channel for Roku users in all regions:-

Of course, it goes without saying that we welcome the addition of this 'GoPro' channel to Roku devices in all regions... however, the fact that it is available in all regions DOES NOT MEAN that this exciting addition to the Roku channel line-up is AVAILABLE ON ALL ROKU DEVICES in those regions. As is often the case, the devil is in the detail... and, if you look closely at the introductory paragraph in the above screenshot, you will see that there is a tiny asterisk next to the word "players" where it says "available for free on Roku players* in all regions" the meaning of which is revealed in the small print at the end of the announcement (linked to above) published via the "Official" Roku Blog:-

Essentially, as far as UK Roku owners are concerned, this new 'GoPro' channel for Roku devices has been EXCLUDED FROM 'Roku LT' AND 'Roku 2 XS' MODELS IN UK meaning those of us who were "early adopters" and among the first to support Roku devices in the UK have been left out in the cold as far as adding / using this new channel is concerned. The same applies for owners of those devices in other Roku "regions" where the 'Roku LT' and 'Roku 2 XS' models were sold. On this occasion, however, it's not just owners of those devices who are missing out because Roku users in USA with 'Roku 2 HD', 'Roku 2 XD' or the original MHL-based 'Roku Streaming Stick (Roku Ready Version)' have also been denied access to this channel.

Of course, Roku users in USA who were "early adopters" of Roku devices, including the original N-series of players and the first generation 'Roku HD', 'Roku XD' and 'Roku XDS' models, already have first-hand experience of this "planned obsolescence" where Roku devices are concerned. For UK users, on the other hand, this is our first experience of that particular facet of the Roku business model and, while I can't speak for all Roku users, it certainly doesn't sit well with me!

My main bone of contention, as a long-time 'Roku 2 XS' user, is that the former flagship UK Roku model uses the same chipset (Broadcom BCM2835, 600 MHz) that features in the Roku Streaming Stick (HDMI Version) [Model: 3500] which does have access to the new 'GoPro' channel! In fact, aside from 'Roku LT' [Model: 2450], all the excluded devices listed previously (i.e. 'Roku 2 HD' [Model: 3000] , 'Roku 2 XD' [Model: 3050]  and the 'Roku Streaming Stick (Roku Ready Version)' [Models: 3400, 3420] , as well as 'Roku 2 XS' [Model: 3100]) have the same processing power-plant (from Broadcom) within them and are all capable of 600 MHz speeds. Furthermore, since no mention has been made that the US-only 'Roku 'LT' [Model: 2700] is excluded from access to 'GoPro' and that is only capable of up to 720p, I'm assuming the reason for excluding those other models is not related to video resolution either?! When it comes down to it, the only real variation in capability between those models which have been denied access to 'GoPro' and those which get it is in the frames per second (fps) of the progressive scan format - all of which can be viewed on televisions bearing the "1080p" logo anyway. So whilst I'm not privy to the exact reasons for their exclusion, in the case of 'GoPro', it seems to me that most of these second generation Roku devices could be granted access to it as well.

Now I accept that advancements in technology happen at an alarming rate sometimes and, when the hardware is no longer up to the task for which it is intended, we need to upgrade to compensate for those changes. However when the manufacturer appears to be "forcing" you into buying a newer model when, strictly speaking, your current device would have been perfectly adequate it does little to maintain your faith in that company, it's ethics and/or it's products - whomever they may be!

Despite reaching out to 'GoPro' for an answer as to why their channel was not available on my 'Roku 2 XS', I'm still none the wiser because (so far, at least) they have declined to comment on the matter. It's unlikely that Roku will come clean as to the exact reasons either (unless Tricia gives the go-ahead) but if you own one of the excluded Roku devices and would like to know why you have been denied access to the 'GoPro' channel, then you could do worse than make your feelings known to both parties (i.e. GoPro and Roku) and, if they get enough hatemail feedback on the matter, the situation may get reversed over time?! Still, as Roku (themselves) are so fond of saying, "Hang in there" - or, bow to pressure and buy a newer Roku model - and you could be watching 'GoPro' sooner than you think !!

Anyway, before I proceed with listing the current crop of new channels (plus providing links to their associated reviews) for this particular 'Weekly RoundUp'... a brief reminder that, whilst I had hoped I'd be able to catch-up on the missing Roku-related news from this blog in recent weeks, all the extra work I've been burdened with of late means it remains unlikely that I'll be fully caught-up anytime soon. Until I do find the time... my one saving grace is that (as mentioned previously) I have somehow managed to remain up-to-date with all the latest additions to the "New" category of the "Official" Roku UK Channel Store and will endeavour to flesh-out what's missing ASAP! Admittedly, there are quite a few articles that I need to catch up on but, rather than post links for individual weeks, I'll simply refer you back to my "Roku UK Channel Store - Weekly RoundUp #78", which contains all of the pertinent information you might need when researching back over the items in question. Again, I'm sorry this has dragged-on (far) longer than anticipated, and apologise for any inconvenience this may have caused you, but (all being well) things will be back up to speed soon!

For now... all I can offer you is a brief summary of the latest additions to the "Official" Roku UK Channel Store from the past seven days. As with my other recent posts, you can expect any additional Roku-related news from the past week, along with details of any changes to the channel selection found on NowTV Boxes, to be added at some point in the near future. As for "mending" all of the "broken" links from previous 'Weekly RoundUp' posts, I still can't put a time-scale on how long that is going to take but (like I said before) if you "copy" the existing link(s) and change the "http" prefix to "https", as well as removing the "forward slash" between 'channels' and '#!details', so that "channels#/!details" becomes "channels#!details" in each weblink, you should find that they will all work for you and redirect to the new-look version of each individual channel description. As with the last twenty-four 'Weekly RoundUp' posts, every link from this week (plus all future posts) will use the new format, so it's only those from 'Weekly RoundUp #1' up as far as 'Weekly RoundUp #86' which you'll have to amend... at least, until I can edit/repair the links for you !!

Still, with all the "missing" Roku-related news (and links) yet to follow, let's now press on with the current 'Weekly RoundUp' of NEW ADDITIONS to the "Official" Roku UK Channel Store. This time there are THIRTEEN NEW CHANNELS which have been added during the preceding seven day period. These latest additions to the channel line-up provided FRESH CONTENT in the Film & TV, News, Weather, Sport, Music, International, Special Interest, Screensavers & Apps plus Religion & Spirituality genres (i.e. categories). Specifically... there'THREE EXTRA CHANNELS in both the "News, Weather, Sport" and "Religion & Spirituality" genres, as well as TWO EXTRA CHANNELS in both the "Film & TV" and "Special Interest" categories, plus ONE EXTRA CHANNEL in each of the "Music", "International" and "Screensavers & Apps" genres - making up the new channel choices which were added to UK Roku devices during this past week. 

In keeping with previous installments from the 'Weekly RoundUp' series, details of these new channels have 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:-

CHRISTIAN TELEVISION NETWORK..............................COST: FREE [Roku Guide Review]

GO PRO............................................................................COST: FREE [Roku Guide Review]

PLEASE NOTE:- That, for some (as yet) unexplained reason, this channel is NOT AVAILABLE ON 'Roku LT' [Model: 2400] OR 'Roku 2 XS' [Model: 3100] DEVICES IN THE UK although, according to details in a recent announcement from Roku (see link above), it should be available for owners of all other current Roku models in the UK - including: the second generation 'Roku Streaming Stick (HDMI Version)' [Model: 3500] as well as every third generation UK device, such as 'Roku 1' [Model: 2710], 'Roku 2' [Model: 2720]and 'Roku 3' [Model: 4200] plus the very latest 'Roku 2' [Model: 4210] which will (apparently) be available for purchase in the UK from "early May" of this year.

ALSO:- Any Roku users in the USA with older Roku devices should note that, in addition to the models mentioned above for UK Roku owners, the new 'GoPro' channel is NOT AVAILABLE ON 'Roku 2 HD' [Model: 3000] OR 'Roku 2 XD' [Model: 3050] OR EVEN THE 'Roku Streaming Stick (Roku Ready Version)' [Models: 3400, 3420] IN THE U.S. and, whilst there has been no "Official" word on the subject specific to additional "legacy" devices, I'm fairly certain that the original N-series (e.g. 'Roku DVP' [Model: N1000], 'Roku SD' [Model: N1050], 'Roku HD' [Model: N1100] plus the 'Roku HD-XR' [Model: N1101] and other 1st generation Roku devices (i.e. 'Roku HD' [Model: 2000], 'Roku XD' [Model: 2050] as well as 'Roku XDS' [Model: 2100]) will also be excluded from adding the new 'GoPro' channel or accessing any content therein. Such is the nature of progress !!

ADDITIONALLY:- Those of you with any of the excluded Roku devices (listed above) who are located in other Roku "regions", such as Canada, Ireland & RoW (Rest of the World), should note that the same exclusions will apply to you! As suggested previously, if you have any questions or comments as to why this is, please address them to GoPro [@GoPro] and/or Roku [@RokuPlayer] directly.

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

FIT4U................................................................................COST: FREE [Roku Guide Review]

JUNIOR SPORTS CHANNEL...............................................COST: FREE [Roku Guide Review]

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

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

MUSICAL MOVIE MEMORIES...........................................COST: FREE [Roku Guide Review]

THE PUERTO RICO CHANNEL.........................................COST: FREE [Roku Guide Review]

WATV NETWORK................................................................COST: FREE [Roku Guide Review]

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

ARC CHURCHES..................................................................COST: FREE [Roku Guide Review]

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


Anyhow, like it or not, that is your lot for this week and, whilst it's only a fraction of the thirty-two channels which made it into the "Official" Roku USA Channel Store during the same time-frame, it's better to have 13 NEW CHANNEL CHOICES as shown above, than none at all, don't you think?!

Meanwhile... hopefully everyone in the UK with a Roku player managed to find something they like within the thirteen "public" channels or else the "private" channels, whose access codes were "gifted" to you via the companion Twitter Feed to this blog, at various points throughout the last seven days. Even so, if you didn't find anything to add to your Roku channel selection from the assortment of channels on offer this week, 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 say... when it comes to adding new channels to your Roku, IT'S YOUR CHOICE and, as with all things Roku... THE CHOICE IS ALWAYS YOURS !!


As mentioned earlier in this post, you can expect my usual summary of all the goings-on (or not) in the (severely restricted) Roku Channel Store that features on NowTV Boxes to follow in the near future. Meanwhile, whether you happen to own a Roku player, a NowTV Box, OR BOTH, as I do... be sure to check my previous posts (as mentioned above) for all the new additions to the "Official" Roku UK Channel Store in each of the thirty-eight preceding weeks and then come back again in seven days' time for my next 'Weekly RoundUp'. However, 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 !!