Roku is a digital media player brand that’s created and developed by the American company Roku Inc. It features various streaming devices that are intended to replace expensive cable equipment with a streamlined setup at an affordable price.

Roku players provide access to free TV channels, live and on-demand movies, sports, news, and more media content. Since its first release in 2008, Roku devices became popular due to their small-form, set-top boxes for over-the-top media at a lower cost than conventional cable providers.

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What Can You Watch on Roku?

In its newer models of streaming devices, you can stream from top free or paid programming from streaming services like Hulu, Netflix, Amazon Prime Video, HBO Max, Apple TV, SHOWTIME, and Pluto TV.

To add, Roku also features its own free movie streaming channel, The Roku Channel. Launched in 2017, it’s an ad-supported channel that includes content from premier movie studios like MGM, Lionsgate, Sony Pictures, Warner Bros., Universal, Disney, and Paramount. A year later, it was made available on the web.

Roku also features an array of sports, news, kids, and international channels like ABC, CBS, and NBC. Music streaming services like Spotify, Pandora, iHeart Radio, and Vevo are available on Roku.

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First Generation (2008)

The first Roku model, named the Roku DVP N1000, was released in May 2008. It featured a partnership with Netflix, an American subscription streaming service company. This set-top device was sold at a lower cost and was meant to compete against video game consoles and larger digital video recorders.

It supported both standard and high-definition video formats up to 720p, automatic software updates, an HDMI output, and new TV channels. Two years later, Roku updated its services so users can search the Netflix library directly from the device. Support for first-generation Roku models ended in 2015.

Second Generation (2011)

Three years after its first release, Roku introduced its second generation of streaming players, named Roku 2 HD, XS, and XD. All new models had microSD slots and Bluetooth support. Only the XS model had Ethernet and USB ports, meanwhile the XD model supports 1080p streaming.

One year later, Roku unveiled its first Streaming Stick—a dongle-type device using Mobile High-Definition Link (MHL) technology.

Ninth Generation (2020)

In September 2020, Roku unveiled its ninth generation of streaming devices. It featured an updated version of the Roku Ultra, along with the Roku Streambar, a two-in-one Roku Soundbar, and streaming device. Also, all modern Roku devices run the Roku OS 10.

Tenth Generation (2021)

A year after, Roku introduced the tenth generation of Roku streaming devices. Among these devices were the Roku Streaming Stick 4K+, a revamped rechargeable Roku Voice Remote Pro with a lost remote finder feature, and the Roku Ultra LT with a stronger Wi-Fi and Ethernet support. It also had Dolby Vision, Bluetooth audio streaming, and a faster processor.

All Roku devices had the option to upgrade to the Roku OS 10.5, which contained improved features compared to the last update.