DO YOU HAVE an old, dumb TV? For years now, buying a Roku device has been the best way to give it new life. You plug in a cheap box or dongle, adding thousands of streaming channels to an old set—in a way that’s generally better than most smart TVs out there.
But for the past year or so, Roku has struck up a few partnerships aimed at replacing that old, dumb TV entirely. The company is expanding beyond its boxes and dongles to bake its features right into new sets. Chinese TV giants TCL and Hisense were the first two companies to offer “Roku TVs” last year, aiming at making an introductory splash in the U.S. market. And at CES this year, Roku announced some new partners with its integrated features: Best Buy house brand Insignia and another major Chinese brand in Haier.
“TCL and Hisense and Haier are looking at the US market very strategically in terms of building market share,” says Chas Smith, senior vice president and general manager of Roku’s OEM team. “They’re using Roku in many ways to help them do that.”
Now Roku has another TV partner in its stable, and it’s a brand that should be a lot more recognizable stateside. Sharp will be offering its own Roku TV sets in the next month, in both the U.S. and Canada, exclusively through Best Buy. The sets will come with their own Roku-style remote, and the Roku homescreen will let you select connected components such as game consoles and cable boxes. The version of Roku OS running on the set also has the latest UI goodies announced by Roku, including personal feeds and voice search. However, the included remote doesn’t have a microphone; you’ll need to use an iOS or Android app for the voice features.
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