Roku getting into the TV business

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Roku will be introducing a new Roku-enabled television at this week’s Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in Vegas. Beating Apple to the punch, the set-top box streaming company is making the next logical step and getting into full TV offerings thanks to a partnership with Hisense and TCL.

The Roku system will be available on smart TVs from the two companies later this year and will have six models of the Roku-powered televisions on display at CES. These will range from 32 to 55 inches in size and have WiFi built in.

For the past five years, Roku has made a name for itself and even become synonymous with “Netflix streaming to TV.” The company, which streams more than just Netflix, but several services, has sold units ranging in price from $50 up to $300, with most averaging around $100. The plug-in-ready sets work like a DVD player or VCR and are sold in stores like Walmart, Best Buy, and others as well as online from a myriad of outlets. Nearly eight million of the streaming players have been sold since the company launched.

Roku saw what everyone else is seeing, of course, and knows that the near-future will have TVs that are as smart (or smarter) than your current mobile phone and thus be capable of doing what the Roku box does without need of the box. So the next obvious step for the company whose business is based on TVs not being smart enough yet? Get into the TVs that will be.  In essence, becoming a software and integration provider for television makers and stream providers like Netflix, Hulu, etc.

Will be interesting to see how these TVs work and whether or not Roku has the same introductory pains that Apple and others have had.