Roku’s broad-sweeping product refresh, announced earlier this week, included two notable connectivity features:
First, the new Roku OS 10 includes intelligent management of dual-band WiFi, with the OS itself automatically choosing which band in the home is the most efficient transom. “We’re finding that millions of users aren’t using the strongest band,” Sheldon Radford, director of product management for Roku, told Next TV.
Secondly, the company’s latest streaming device, the Roku Express 4K+, features dedicated microUSB Ethernet support, so users can bypass WiFi altogether. Among OTT devices, Ethernet support hasn't gone away. It's still standard equipment on smart TVs, smart speakers and higher end OTT players, such as the Roku Ultra.
Both Amazon and Google enable Ethernet adapters to connect via microUSB to their respective Fire TV sticks and Chromecast dongles. But Roku, the leading seller of OTT devices in the U.S., has been phasing out Ehternet support altogether on its lower-end--and best-selling--devices in recent years.
The fifth-generation Roku Premiere situated in our Los Angeles office, for example, doesn't feature miniUSB, or a standard USB port for that matter, so WiFi connectivity is the only option. Same with Roku's legacy "Express" product line.
But we think the Roku Express 4K+ might reverse the anti-Ethernet trend.
Dallas-based research company Parks Associates recently published survey data, indicating that 40% of U.S. consumers report of having some kind of issue regarding their WiFi.
The biggest cohort in the group reporting problems say their WiFi is too slow (nearly 30%). Around 25% say their WiFi suddenly stops working for some reason. Over 15% say they have coverage gaps in their homes.
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