Set-top streaming video provider Roku is expanding into casual video games with three new high-tech boxes that can be controlled via a motion-sensing Bluetooth remote which functions similar to the one offered by Nintendo’s Wii.
Smaller and lighter than previous models, the company’s recently-unveiled Roku 2 Internet TV players will ship in three forms, including the $60 Roku 2 HD, $80 Roku 2 XD and $100 Roku 2 XS. Available at the end of July from major retailers, all promise 802.11n WiFi connectivity and a MicroSD expansion slot, and are designed to offer added entertainment value by way of gaming functionality.
A gesture-tracking Bluetooth remote will be included with the Roku 2 XS, which also includes a free copy of popular digital diversion Angry Birds, reportedly the first of many casual games to come. Owners of lower-end units can additionally purchase the controller separately for $30, which comes bundled with a 2GB MicroSD card.
The Roku 2 HD player will support 720p HD video viewing via HDMI connection, while the Roku 2 XD and XS will offer 1080p high-definition output. New features further include Dolby Digital Plus surround sound and English subtitles on close-captioned Netflix films. But support for a library of playable video game software, presumably to soon include further outings such as Angry Birds follow-ups Rio and Seasons, is by far the most notable new addition.
Happily, all models will continue to offer on-demand streaming video from Hulu Plus, the MLB, NHL and dozens of other popular TV and movie services, in case you prefer blissful passivity to all that uncoordinated flailing.