Platforms

Heating Up for the Holidays

OTT device makers court consumers with new range of options 10/09/2017 8:00 AM Eastern

With the holiday buying season approaching, several of the market’s top makers of streaming devices have moved ahead with a new range of TV-connected choices that can assist consumers with their binge-viewing needs.

The likes of Apple, Roku and Amazon have introduced new models as they look to entice consumers who are looking to upgrade, add streaming devices for secondary TVs, or are relative newbies to the over-the-top video world.

Roku appears to have the lead in the U.S. heading into the holidays, as the company has been outselling its rivals of late. In Q1, Roku held about 37% of the market, according to Parks Associates, followed by Amazon’s Fire TV players and sticks (24%), Google’s Chromecast streaming adapter (18%) and Apple TV (15%).

Here’s a roundup of what’s new (so far) from those major players.

Roku

Roku continues to take a different approach with models, creating a wider range with varying price points and capabilities aimed at the high, middle and low ends of the consumer market.

Fresh off its IPO, Roku recently broadened its streaming player lineup with two entry-level models — the Roku Express and Roku Express+ — with the latter of the group being offered exclusively at Walmart.

That’s complemented by two streaming sticks — an HD version and a 4K+ version — and the Roku Ultra, which represents the high end of the lineup.

Amazon

Amazon broadened its Fire TV lineup with a new dongle-style model that bakes in support for 4K, HDR, 60 frames-per-second video and Dolby Atmos audio, plus an Alexa-powered voice remote, for $69.99.

The addition, which is also equipped with Alexa “skills,” is 40% more powerful than the Fire TV stick, and follows a 4K-capable Fire TV device, which has more processing power than the new product that Amazon introduced in the fall of 2015.

The new Amazon Fire TV, shipping to U.S. customers on Oct. 25, comes equipped with a 1.5 GHz quad-core processor, dual-band 802.11ac WiFi, 2 Gigabytes of memory and 8 GB of storage.

The Alexa integration will enable voice control and navigation to apps and services that includes Hulu, Showtime, PlayStation Vue, CBS All Access, NBC, Bravo, CNBC and NBC News.

Google Chromecast and Android TV

Google launched the 4K-capable Chromecast adapter last fall, and did not announce a new or updated version last week at a hardware-focused event that included the debut of Google’s Pixel 2 smartphones and some new Google Home products.

However, the company did announced that Google has shipped more than 55 million Chromecast (adapters and built-in) devices worldwide.

Apple

Filling a big gap in its video repertoire, Apple recently added 4K and High Dynamic Range capabilities to its lineup with a new Apple TV device that starts at $179.

To incentivize its existing base, Apple is also offering to upgrade HD titles purchased on iTunes to a 4K version (if available).

Though the new Apple TV will be appealing to consumers who just can’t get enough of Apple and will still sell its fourth-gen HD Apple TV, the high price point on the new 4K-capable offering, amid a backdrop of less expensive options in the market, will likely prove challenging.

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