Roku 4

   If you’ve read any of my past blog entries, it should come as no surprise to you that I love Roku. Simply put, it made the Cord Cutting transition in my home simple and easy. Of course there are other streaming devices available as this market continues to expand. Of those other offerings I also have Chromecast, which is good in its own right at its price point, but it simply doesn’t pack the same “punch” as Roku.

   Speaking of Chromecast, Roku has also entered the stream stick arena with its own $49.99 offering. I don’t have the stick, but it looks to have the same robust selections behind it that make the Roku Player rock.

   When Google announced the Chromecast, I knew it would only be a matter of time before others (Roku included) would tap into the streaming stick market. No biggie – it’s business. But Roku lovers such as myself have been wondering, “Will there be a Roku 4? If so, when?” And, along that line of questioning, I began to think of things I think should be included to make the next generation of Roku more awesomer!

The Interface

   When I first purchased a Roku box, the interface left a lot to be desired. The channels were great, but if you added many of them you had to side-scroll to get to them all.

   This was a bit frustrating to say the least, but Roku eventually released an update that brought us the all-too-familiar grid style. And that’s just it. You see, I don’t think there is necessarily anything wrong with the grid style, but I feel it’s getting a bit stale because it seems that everywhere we turn this is what we see. And let’s be honest with ourselves here – it was Netflix who set this standard.

   I believe it’s time for something new. Something fresh. An all new approach to the streaming interface, and I think Roku should be the ones to set the new standard. As they are the leader in the “streaming pack”, I think they should be the ones behind the new way we look at browsing our streaming content.

   What should this new interface look like? Honestly, I don’t know. But it should be intuitive, it should be fast, it should be great on the eyes, and it should be simple to navigate. Just as Apple literally set the standard for cell phones today, Roku should lead the charge of the future of the streaming interface.
The Device
   
   Ask either of my sons what my favorite car is, and they will tell you without hesitation, “Corvette!” As far as the Roku 3 is concerned, I consider it the Corvette of the streaming device world. Sleek and shiny with curves in all the right places…. Oops! Let me get back on track here.
   In all seriousness though, there isn’t much I would consider changing about the form factor when considering version 4. Under the hood, a faster processor would of course be a welcomed addition (I had an ad pop up recently from Amazon boasting that its Fire TV has a faster processor than Roku). I think this is true of any next step version of any hardware. Again, going back to Apple – what is true hardware-wise of an iPhone today isn’t the same as it was 5 years ago. 
   One addition I would like to see that I think would add further distance between Roku and the rest of the pack would be an RF Connector to allow users to directly connect an HD Antenna. Roku could then create its own live TV channel with DVR functionality, provided the user supplies their own external hard drive. 
   I’m not trying to step on any toes here – I absolutely love simple.tv. But if this could all be integrated into one small powerhouse, I think Roku 4 should be that powerhouse. And with more and more consumers joining the Cord Cutting culture, combined with the recent public demise of Aereo, I think more and more people are going to be looking for ways to have their streaming channels as well as their live over-the-air channels available in one simple device. 
Parental Controls

   As I mentioned, Roku helped make Cord Cutting a very easy transition in my home. Perhaps too easy. My kids have no problem picking up the Roku remote and browsing their little hearts out among the channels I’ve added. Some of those individual channels have their own forms of parental control – for instance, Netflix introduced separate profiles – while the vast majority of them do not. 
   In the Roku 4, it would be great to see a prompt for separate user log ins upon waking the device out of screen saver mode or after rebooting. In that way, an admin profile could be created that controls the available content of all other added users. This admin profile should also be able to change the preferences regarding when the log in prompt would appear, as well as the idle time before a user is prompted to log in again. Not that I’ve seen much in the way of “bad” content in the Roku Channel Store, but at least having this extra layer of parental options regarding security would be a much-welcomed addition.
   That’s it! Just 3 tweaks that I think would make the next generation of Roku the go-to streaming device. What about you? Have any suggestions that I may have overlooked? Please be sure to share them below!

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