Hands-On Impressions And More Details On Sony’s PlayStation Now

PlayStation Now users will not necessarily need a PS3 or PS4 to access the service. We tested it on a new Sony Bravia TV.

PlayStation Now users will not necessarily need a PS3 or PS4 to access the service. We tested it on a new Sony Bravia TV.

As we mentioned earlier today, Sony CEO Kaz Hirai kicked off the Consumer Electronics Show by announcing PlayStation Now, a cloud-based service that will allow PlayStation 4 users — and users of other select devices — to play PS3 and PS2 games that currently don’t run on the PS4. This afternoon, we were able to get our hands on the service and find out some more details about how it works.

At the Sony booth, we got to play a bit of PS3 exclusive game The Last of Us. We weren’t playing on a PS4, but on a new Sony Bravia TV that includes the PS Now app.

The company rep swore up and down that the TV was not directly connected to a PS3 or a server in the convention center, but via the Internet to one of the many U.S.-based data centers the company has set up for the service.

Sony maintains that these strategically placed data centers will be sufficient to handle the inevitable data drain as millions of users attempt to play online.

In terms of performance, we noticed the occasional stuttering, but nothing that you don’t sometimes find in disc-based console games and no dreaded hang-ups from a bogged-down connection.

There was a slight drop in picture quality compared to the console version of the game, but it’s hard to say if that’s something a casual gamer will notice.

Of course, these impressions are based on effectively zero traffic to the data centers, with just a few users accessing a handful of games from one location. There is no way to predict how PS Now will perform once the floodgates are opened.

We played the game with a PS3 DualShock controller hooked up to the TV via USB. Sony says that both the PS3 version and the PS4 version will work with PS Now games. It hopes to add support for smartphone and tablet controllers in the future.

Users will have two options for buying games — either a subscription (no price given yet) or a la carte game purchases. Pulling out the old “Netflix for games” comparison, a company rep called that a “fair analogy.” He then suggested his own analogy of going to restaurant and ordering a la carte or from the buffet.

The idea, explained the rep, is for PS Now to be a platform for exploration and discovery of new games you may not have known about or played before.

We believe that all the games available for the CES demo of PS Now were Sony exclusives. When pressed about which game publishers might be lined up for launch titles, the rep remained mum but did seem to hint that this is still all in the early stages.

Sony says that games on PS Now will be fully featured, just like the games you buy on disc or download from the PlayStation store. Alas, without knowing what other publishers are involved or what restrictions they will demand on their titles, we believe it’s too early to make this assumption.

The big question is whether PS Now will allow people who already own PS2 and PS3 games to play those titles online without having to re-purchase the game or pay a fee. Both Sony and Microsoft currently charge a fee for owners of certain previous generation games to upgrade to the new-gen versions of those titles.

Sony tells Consumerist is has not yet made a decision regarding that option, but that it hasn’t necessarily shut the door to the possibility. The company rep says these decisions will likely be made based on user feedback during the upcoming closed beta.

No specific launch date has been given, but Sony says that the closed beta is set to kick off soon, and that it will first be announced on the official PlayStation blog. Alas, the company has not yet finalized what the criteria might be for users to be eligible for the test.

One other unresolved issue is whether PS Now games will be available to users the same day as their console versions are released, or if — keeping with the whole “Netflix for games” idea — there will be a delay between the console version going on sale and a title going up on PS Now.

If we had to take a guess, we would not be surprised if pressure from retailers — who still make quite a bit of money from disc sales and push a lot of Sony TVs, stereos and other electronics — pressure Sony to put some brief delay in the release schedule.

We could also see a la carte streaming purchases made available on the launch date for a game, while there is a delay in making that same title available to subscription customers.

It’s all a big wait and see at this point, but it’s nice to know that someday I may be able to play my PS2 and PS3 favorites without having to have those old consoles sitting on the shelf.

by Chris Morran via Consumerist

Saca provecho del Guest Blogging en tu empresa #infografia #infographic #marketing

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We’re Thinking About Picking Up One Of These $4.5 Million Lamborghinis

The six of us will each have to chip in and share, but we'd all look pretty sexy rolling up to Costco in these wheels.

The six of us will each have to chip in and share, but we’d all look pretty sexy rolling up to Costco in these wheels.

Among all the TVs, appliances and other mundane products on display at the Consumer Electronics Show is this $4.5 million Lamborghini Veneno Roadster that we think would look really good parked in the secret underground garage of the Consumerist Cave.

This particular Veneno is tricked out with a sound system from the folks at Monster, a company familiar with huge sticker prices.

photo - Edited Monster CEO Noel Lee was on hand for the unveiling of the vehicle and we got a close-up look at his signatute souped-up Segway.

Since there are only nine of these puppies being produced, we’re going to need to secure a car loan soon, though I’m pretty sure there’s enough loose change in the Consumerist Cave couch cushions to cover most of the MSRP.

Maybe we’ll just lease and turn it in for another $4.5 million vehicle after 36 months.

by Chris Morran via Consumerist

La ciencia del marketing online B2B #infografia #infographic #marketing

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Even Target Employees Laugh At Their Nonsensical Shelf Tags

A Target employee in an undisclosed location who we’ll call “Amy” sent along a photo from the frozen foods section. One of Amy’s colleagues carefully went through and placed “0% off” shelf tags on every variety of Amy’s frozen vegetarian burrito. “They are actually on sale if scanned,” notes Amy, “but you save 5% more than the sign states.”


by Laura Northrup via Consumerist

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What’s The Best Store-Bought Guacamole?

It’s not hard to make your own guacamole at home, but that doesn’t mean that you always want to. Sometimes opening a container instead of actual cooking is where it’s at. How do you choose the best pre-made guac on the shelf, though? Buy every brand available and taste-test it? Don’t worry: our freshly mashed colleagues down the hall at Consumer Reports already took care of that for you.

Out of all of the store-bought guacamoles available, Consumer Reports liked the offering from Sabra best. They rank all of the varieties they tried in the ratings for subscribers, but found something wrong with all other brands. Too much bitterness here, an “off” texture there: none of the guacs were just right except for Sabra’s offering.

Taste test of store-bought brands of guacamole [Consumer Reports]

by Laura Northrup via Consumerist

It’s A Bit Boring To Watch People Try To Break World Record For Binge-Watching

photo (11) Last night, about 12 hours before the Consumer Electronics Show threw open its door to attendees, three folks gathered in the TiVo booth in order to begin their attempt at breaking the world record for TV binge-watching. Not even a full day in, and it’s kind of a sad sight.

Consumerist got some eyes-on time with the publicity stunt — which aims to break the current record of more than 86 hours set in 2012 by people who watched a continuous stream of Simpsons episodes — and it’s sort of a sad sight to behold.

It’s hard not to watch the viewers sitting in the TiVo booth struggling to pay attention to the TV and not see an analogy to TiVo, the company that popularized the DVR (and whose name was once synonymous with using a DVR for some people).

And we weren’t the only ones thinking of TiVo’s better days. We overheard a passerby ask as he strolled by the booth, “TiVo is still alive?”

Maybe things will pick up as the drive toward 87 hours nears. Fingers crossed that it devolves into some sort of Hunger Games/Battle Royale debacle after hours, with the viewers scaling the convention center rafters, crafting murderous plots (though without any actual killing).

If you want to be part of the fun, you can watch a live cam of the world record attempt here.

by Chris Morran via Consumerist

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The Gift Card I Bought At Walmart Is Blank. What Should I Do?

cardsIf you buy a prepaid debit card at Walmart as a gift and only receive a blank Starbucks card in return, who is responsible for getting you your money back? One family in California learned a very inconvenient lesson: customers who buy empty gift cards must go to the company that issued the gift card, not Walmart.

The family shared their story with the NBC affiliate in Los Angeles. (Warning: auto-play video.) The dad of this family purchased what appeared to be four sealed Vanilla MasterCards. Inside, they found Starbucks gift cards. Worse: Starbucks gift cards with a zero balance.

He took the cards back to Walmart, where the manager opened up the fourth card–still sealed–and found another empty Starbucks card. Walmart wouldn’t issue a refund or exchange, though. They sent the customer to the gift card distributor. After hours on the phone, they turned him around and sent him back to Walmart. Again, the store refused to issue a refund.

Time for some good old-fashioned action news! The customer brought his story to the NBC station, which sent an undercover person to buy four Vanilla MasterCard gift cards of their own. The good news: the packages didn’t contain blank Starbucks cards. The bad news: that’s because they had empty Walmart gift cards, an empty American Express card, and even a Vanilla MasterCard with a balance of three cents left. Walmart wouldn’t give the TV station a refund, either.

What should you do if this happens to you? Gather up the Vanilla card packaging, whatever card you actually received, and your original purchase receipt. If you experience this problem with a Vanilla prepaid card, call the company at 877-770-6406.

A company executive told the TV station that he believes the tampering occurs sometime after delivery: that is to say, that someone tampered with the card at Walmart.

An anonymous Walmart employee tells Consumerist that he had been warned that unknown baddies were tampering with his store’s gift cards before Christmas. He sent in this bit of advice:

When buying gift cards, check the back to see if the card’s number has been scratched off and revealed. If so, do not buy it, and you should turn the card over to the store’s customer service.

That wouldn’t help the customers in this case, though. Watch the NBC video: you’ll see that the packages appear to be factory-sealed. No scratching off numbers here.

Gift Card Tampering Alleged at Walmart [NBC4] (Warning: auto-play video.)

by Laura Northrup via Consumerist

The Cheesepocalypse Is Nigh: Velveeta Warns Of Coming Shortage

Grab your buttered bread and favorite grilled cheese pan close, folks, because we could be in for a doozy: Velveeta has announced it’s facing a shortage and so of course, everyone is panicking adorably over the idea of a (dun dun dun [dramatic noise]) CHEESEPOCALYPSE. Because it’s not like there aren’t any other cheese options out there…. oh, wait.

The evidence of looming cheese doom and the subsequent and predictable overreactions by the public is laid out over at Yahoo’s The Exchange finance blog. Is it the super cold weather and the promise of hot cheese melted over every available food surface? Are people prematurely stocking up for Super Bowl party dips?

It’s unclear, but Velveeta is aware of the panic — and is of course turning the situation to its advantage.

“Given the incredible popularity of Velveeta this time of year, it is possible consumers may not be able to find their favorite product on store shelves over the next couple of weeks,” a Kraft spokeswoman told AdAge. “Our retail customers are aware of the situation and we expect it to be a short-term issue.”

If your misery is seeking company, over on Twitter there’s already a #cheesepocalypse hashtag, where people are already bemoaning the fact that they might have to find some other cheese among all the cheeses to melt into dip or stuff into pastry dough with mini hotdogs (à la a genius idea invented by yours truly and friends during a particularly hungry weekend, you’re welcome).

Is this is bad as the wine shortage of 2012 or the Twinkie hysteria of that same year? That’s a call you’ll have to make for yourself, folks. I can’t tell you which cheese to eat or how to eat it (but seriously, that hot dog thing? It could work with any cheese and is the guiltiest of all your guilty pleasures).

Cheesepocalypse nears as Kraft runs low on Velveeta [The Exchange]

Dip Dilemma: Is Kraft Running Out of Velveeta? [AdAge]

by Mary Beth Quirk via Consumerist

Do Not Call 9-1-1 To Request Beer Delivery

Beer is one of the major Consumerist food groups, along with tacos, cheese, and bacon. It’s very important and nice to have around. That doesn’t mean, however, that you should dial up emergency services to report that your granddaughter won’t buy you beer, as one Tennessee woman allegedly did. [Associated Press]

by Laura Northrup via Consumerist

Las TIC en los hogares españoles #internet

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Movie Producers Love Critic’s Tweet As An Ad… After Mention Of The Competition Is Edited Out

The primary goal of a movie critic is not to sell movies, but to review them. Which seems like a simple enough idea, right? Apparently not simple enough for Scott Rudin and his fellow producers behind Inside Llewyn Davis, who not only took one of New York Times critic A.O. Scott’s tweets and turned it into an ad (which ran in the NYT itself), but edited out any mention of competing movies in doing so. Oof.

Boing Boing explains that it’s not just sort of twee and precious to run an ad featuring the tweet, which ran as a full page and was presented as a tweet from Tony “A.O.” Scott reading: “I’m gonna listen to the Llewyn Davis album again. Fare thee well, my honeys.” And that was all there was to it.

But it’s that there was more to the tweet, specifically, mention of other movies currently in the theaters. Scott’s original tweet:

Oh, we see what you did there. Not only that, but as the Times’ Public Editor Mary Sullivan explains in addressing the controversy, Rudin asked Scott if the producers could run the tweet and was roundly denied permission. Scott reportedly told Rudin in his response:

Well this is a new one. I’d prefer though that my tweets not be used in advertisements. That seems like a slippery slope and contrary to the ad hoc and informal nature of the medium.

And changing the tweet is basically manufacturing a quote, something I avoid.

So I’m afraid the answer is no.

It’s also confusing because did Rudin et al really think no one would go on the Internet and find the original tweet? There’s no possibility of covering your tracks in this case.

Edited tweet used in ad [Boing Boing]

by Mary Beth Quirk via Consumerist

American Airlines Will Remind Customers Nonstop About All Its New Post-Merger Changes

Moving in with your significant other means creating new rules and getting rid of excess. The same goes for the $17.7 billion merger between American Airlines and US Airways, only on a much larger scale. But it’s all for the good of the consumer, right?

American Airlines announced a plethora of changes customers will begin seeing as the first stage of the merger, named “Customer Day One”, takes off Tuesday, reports the Dallas Morning News.

The marriage between American and US Airways became official in December after a long courting period.

Officials with American said customers will see an “overcommunication” of changes. They call the changes “taking care of customer needs,” but some are less convenient than others.

Traveling with a little one? You’re no longer going to be able to board early anymore.

Connecting to a US Airways flight from an American flight? No problem, eventually. The airlines will soon share terminals, although, it’s going to be a slow moving process.

Here’s a rundown of the American/US Airways first stage, customer-centric changes:

  • Letting customers earn and redeem miles on both carriers. You’ll have to choose to bank miles with either American’s AAdvantage program or US Airways’ Dividend Miles program for each flight.

  • Relocating the US Airways’ and American Airlines to the same terminal. They’ll start with hub airports in New York, Phoenix, Miami, Los Angeles and Dallas/Fort Worth.

  • Military members will no longer board before first class, instead the two groups will board together. Again, families won’t be able to board early. The boarding changes are in line with American’s policies.

  • The maximum age of unaccompanied minors changes to age 11, three years younger than US Airways’ current policy of up to 14 years of age.

  • Members of US Airways and American Airlines can use both airlines’ lounges. The clubs will combine at a later date.

  • Wi-Fi passes purchased on Gogo, daily or monthly, can be used both airlines.

Most importantly, they promise improved communications with customers. Customers can follow changes on

Look for more changes, including a code-sharing agreement for customers to use both airlines’ networks, in the next several weeks. The entire merger process is expected to take two years.

American Airlines unveils customer-focused changes [Dallas Morning News]

by Ashlee Kieler via Consumerist

Man Likes His Burger So Much He Comes Back For Seconds — And To Rob The Burger King

We’ve all had that gustatory moment when you realize that this thing you’re chewing? It’s so freaking good, you just need to come back and order another one. But one no good, very bad consumer took his trip for seconds to another level by returning to not only order another burger, but also to rob the Burger King. You know, as long as he was already there.

Police in Long Island say the man simply ordered a hamburger the first time around, paying for his meal and leaving the restaurant, reports the New York Post.

But then just five minutes later he returned, this time wearing a mask, and ordered another burger. He then allegedly grabbed a bunch of cash right out of the register and left again.

“He ordered a hamburger. He liked it so much he came back and ordered a second one,” a police spokesman suggested (because really, do we know for sure he loved the hamburger or the chance for some free money?). “Then he grabbed an undisclosed amount of cash from the register.”

Police aren’t saying how much money he took because they don’t want anyone to think that’s a good idea.

“We don’t want to encourage this type of behavior. Seriously,” the spokesman said.

Although to be clearing, ordering more than one burger is totally a personal decision anyone is free to make. Just not the stealing afterward part.

Hungry thief orders burger before cash grab [New York Post]

by Mary Beth Quirk via Consumerist

Is This 2,550-LB Wide-Belt Sander Now The Heaviest Thing That Ships For Free On Amazon?

Yesterday’s clever advertising ploy/PR stunt from Amazon and/or Nissan got us thinking back to that 1,509-pound gun safe, which previously held the title of Heaviest Thing You Can Ship For Free on Amazon. One Consumerist reader says he found something even heavier that’s Prime-eligible, which could mean it’s time to pass the title on.

Brian writes in with this new kid on the block — a 2,550-pound wide belt sander that sells for $16,245 — saying it deserves to be crowned.

“While the gun safe is certainly a porker at 1,509 pounds, this Shop Fox belt sander really tips the scales with a shipping weight of 3,955 pounds and is Prime Eligible,” he explains, and it appears to be so.

But Brian isn’t done with us yet, throwing down the gauntlet to back his assertion: “I’II challenge you to find a heavier product!”

Challenge accepted. If you can find a heavier item on Amazon that will cost Prime members nothing to ship, or heck, something even bigger than the car that was apparently in that super big box yesterday, let us know at Then you can share in the wearing of the imaginary crown.

by Mary Beth Quirk via Consumerist

FTC Settles Charges Of Deceptive Advertising Against Four Weight-Loss Marketers For $34M

Put down that shaker of Sensa. Those promises of shedding 30 pounds while eating french fries and sitting on the couch aren’t real. We know — who would have thunk it? Well, the Federal Trade Commission for starters, which announced today that four marketers of fad weight loss products settled FTC charges on deceptive advertising for $34 million.

Operation Failed Resolution recovered approximately $34 million for customers, said Jessica Rich, director of consumer protection for the FTC.

Sensa accounts for the largest chunk of change being returned by paying $26.5 million to settle charges, the FTC explained in a conference call and press release today.

Rich said she could not say how much the other marketers were forking over.

An FTC survey, released last year, found that in 2011 there were 5.1 million instances of fraud related to weight-loss products.

Charges of deceptive advertising announced Tuesday were against the following marketers:

Sensa: The FTC charges they deceived customers with unfounded weight-loss claims and misleading endorsements.

L’Occitane: The company claims that its skin cream would slim users’ bodies.

HCG Diet Direct: Marketers of an unproven human hormone that was touted for more than half a century as a weight-loss treatment.

LeanSpa, LLC: An operation that promotes acai berry and “colon cleanse” weight loss supplements through fake news websites. The charges resulted in a partial settlement of temporarily halting the promotion of the product.

“Resolutions to lose weight are easy to make but hard to keep,” Rich said. “And the chances of being successful just by sprinkling something on your food, rubbing cream on your thighs, or using a supplement are slim to none. The science just isn’t there.”

It’s important to note the suits change the way marketers can advertise the weight-loss products, not that the products will disappear.

The FTC also announced Tuesday updated guidance for media outlets on spotting false weight-loss claims in advertising.

Creatively, the FTC also created a “teaser website” designed to reach people searching for weight-loss products online.

The website, similar to one Massachusetts unveiled in 2012, appears as an advertisement for “FatFoe”. When consumers try to order the product, which offers weight loss with no diet or exercise, they learn the ad is a warning from the FTC about diet rip-offs.

Sensa and Three Other Marketers of Fad Weight-Loss Products Settle FTC Charges in Crackdown on Deceptive Advertising []

by Ashlee Kieler via Consumerist

JetBlue Promises A Return To Normal Today After Canceling Northeast Flights To Rest Crews

If you’ve been trying to get into or out of Northeast airports including Boston Logan International Airport or any of the three New York City-area airports in the last few days on JetBlue, you’ve likely had a tough time of it. On the heels of heinous weather, JetBlue canceled almost all of its flights yesterday out of those airports, saying the airline needed to rest its crew members before sending them out.

JetBlue says the cancellations were in part due to the airline’s effort to comply with new Federal Aviation Administration rules on pilot duty time, and that the gnarly weather didn’t help. Starting earlier today and ramping up toward the afternoon, a spokeswoman said the airline will be “100% operational by 3 p.m. ET.,” reports CNN.

This will allow for 17 hours of rest for crews as well as time to service the aircraft, JetBlue explained, which is causing a bit of a backlog.

Some customers “aren’t seeing available seats for nearly a week,” and it’s not like the overwhelmed call centers can help much amid the current cancellations. JetBlue suggests travelers instead rebook or request refunds online.

“Delays or cancellations disrupt those handoffs placing crews or planes ‘out of position’ for their flights.”

“In the midst of us repairing those schedules disrupted by this week’s winter storms, we’re facing an additional challenge as new FAA rules went into effect for crew rest,” the spokeswoman explained in an email. “These rules further impact our ability to operate an already disrupted schedule, causing our pilots to ‘time out’ even sooner. As a result, additional cancellations are likely to occur as we work to reset the operation.”

But one pilots union is a bit skeptical of the excuse of the FAA’s new rules — those rule changes were announced back in December 2011, ostensibly giving the airline plenty of time to sort things out before they went into effect on Saturday.

“They had two years to anticipate this (work hour rule) and to adjust accordingly,” said the vice president of the Air Line Pilots Association. “So I think it’s overly simplistic to suggest that they could ascribe this disruption — which happens to coincide with this major, major winter snowstorm — and just hang it all on that rule-making change.”

JetBlue cancels Northeast flights to rest crews [CNN]

by Mary Beth Quirk via Consumerist

Breakfast Shrink Ray: Chobani Yogurt, Special K Shave Off Weight

When food companies need to work on their profit margin but don’t want to raise prices, they deploy the Grocery Shrink Ray. The Shrink Ray lets them charge the same amount for fractionally less food. Today, we have most of a Shrink Rayed breakfast: it’s been deployed on Kellogg’s Special K Protein cereal and Chobani yogurt cups.

Mark sent in these cereal boxes., which show an entire ounce removed from Special K Protein after a box redesign. Redesigns often provide handy cover for Shrink Rayage.



Sarra sent this photo of Chobani’s yogurt cups. It always was remarkable that Chobani offered a full six ounces: i suppose it was too wonderful to last.



by Laura Northrup via Consumerist

Guy Who Slapped Toddler On The Plane Sentenced To 8 Months In Prison

As if you need a reason not to tip back a few too many drinks and slap a toddler on a plane, know that at least one guy is going to prison for doing so. Early last year a Delta passenger was accused of hitting a 19-month-old who was crying near him and hitting the child across the face while using a racial slur. He pleaded guilty in October and has now been smacked himself, with eight months in jail.

The 61-year-old former aerospace executive is off to prison for eight months, despite the fact that prosecutors had asked for a six-month sentence, reports Reuters. But a federal judge decided he should get a little bit of extra time and added two months on.

“You don’t have the right to raise your hand against another human being,” the judge said, noting that the man had a previous assault conviction and was on probation for drunken driving at the time.

The man apologized in court to the child’s mother for the incident last February, which took place on a Delta flight from Minneapolis to Atlanta.

“I’m very sorry,” he told the child’s mother during the court hearing in Atlanta. “I made the most terrible day in my life much worse for myself and others.”

His attorney had said before that her client was on his way to remove his dying son from life support and was emotionally distraught, adding that his alcoholism contributed to his behavior on that flight.

The adoptive mother of the little boy explained that she had also gone through losing a child after she and her husband had to remove their three-week-old baby from life support. But that was no excuse to react violently in grief, she said, calling the man a “socially underdeveloped racist” and a bully.

“He treated me and [my son] like we were less than human and he deserves to be punished,” she said.

U.S. man gets eight months in prison for hitting child on plane [Reuters]

by Mary Beth Quirk via Consumerist

Easter Creep Spreads To CVS, Looks Delicious

easter_CVSSince shortly after Christmas Day, we’ve been tracking the spread of Easter Creep across the country. That’s when chocolate eggs and plastic bunnies hit store shelves before all of the unsold Christmas decorations are off the clearance shelf.

Normally, Kroger does some very innovative things in the Easter Creep field. In 2011, they even dragged out the chocolate eggs during the first week of December. You know, for your Easter stocking. Reader Gail sent us the above photo from her local CVS, though, and I spotted a similar display right at the front door of my CVS.

As much as we decry holiday merchandise being available on store shelves earlier and earlier here at Consumerist, we’ve never really had a problem with Easter Creep. This is probably because we like Cadbury’s Creme Eggs and candy-shelled chocolate eggs. It’s a sickness.

by Laura Northrup via Consumerist

Roku TV Is The Connected TV Your Parents Might Actually Use

The Roku TV home screen puts all your inputs and streaming video sources on the same, easily navigated page.

The Roku TV home screen puts all your inputs and streaming video sources on the same, easily navigated page.

In an era where connected TVs and apps on gaming consoles mean consumers don’t need to clutter their living rooms with additional boxes to access streaming video, makers of streaming devices like Roku need to adapt or die. The logical solution: Roku TV.

On the eve of the Consumer Electronics Show, Roku showed off the upcoming TV sets that use the company’s clean and simple interface, making the streaming apps — Netflix, YouTube, HuluPlus,, among others — front and center, alongside whatever devices (cable box, gaming console, etc.) you have plugged into the set.

rokuremote So rather than having the “smart” aspect of the set hidden on a separate menu, or having to toggle between inputs via a separate button. Everything video source is right there on the home screen.

That simplicity continues to the design of the remote, which is the typical, stripped-bare Roku design. It’s the kind of remote that some gadget-philes would sneer at but which may be welcome to those who spend too much time studying their overly complicated TV remotes just looking for the mute button.

While Roku has not yet announced pricing for the sets — which will range in screen size from 32″ to 55″ — reps for the company tell Consumerist that it expects the pricing to be competitive with other affordable brands, presumably taking aim at Vizio’s market share.

As for the manufacturing of the TVs, Roku is doing something similar to what Google has done with its line of Chromebooks, which are made by multiple manufacturers but all contain the same operating system.

In the case of Roku TV, the initial manufacturing partners — TCL and HiSense — are not household names to most Americans, but are both among the largest manufacturers of TV sets in the world.

On paper, the deal seems to make sense for all involved, with Roku making a move to avoid the inevitable disappearance of streaming boxes, and TCL and HiSense being able to leverage the Roku brand and name-recognition to get a foothold in the North American market.

Having said all of this, our interactions with the TV were based solely on the interface. We’ve done no testing or comparison of picture/sound quality or formed any opinion about the design of the set; all of which may change by the time these TVs actually hit the market in the fall.

However, if Roku TV is able to carve out a piece of the market in the coming years, it could be a disruptive force for good in the market, giving consumers a lower-cost Web-connected set and showing other manufacturers that they don’t need to make user interfaces complicated or cute.


by Chris Morran via Consumerist