Roku 3: Best Yet, With Innovative New Remote, Angry Birds, HBO And More

The Roku 3 set-top box debuted Wednesday, and the new hardware looks poised to be a direct challenger to Apple TV.

Roku 3 is the company's first major hardware rollout in nearly two years. Based on the feature set offered with the third generation device, it seems fair to say the extensive R&D effort that preceded it was not undertaken in vain.

Some of the highlights include streaming video in 1080p, HDMI, dual band Wi-Fi, Ethernet and USB ports, as well as a microSD slot.    

The set-top box is available right now on both Amazon and Roku's website for $99. Among its more innovative features is a shiny new remote control that has an audio jack. Just plug in any standard set of headphones and enjoy private listening without having to endure the tyranny of some ancient RF-based solution. Like the previous remote, it also features motion-sensing capabilities used for gaming.

Roku's new streamer will access over 750 channels, as well as Amazon Instant Video, Netflix and HBO Go. Angry Birds comes preinstalled. Seriously.

The device also features a completely revamped user interface. Wired caught an early demo of the beta-version, and describes it as a huge improvement over the current UI. Wired speculates that the improved performance is the result of a more powerful processor. Roku's remained mum on the performance specs of the CPU, but has called the new box "the most powerful Roku ever."

"Roku 3 introduces thoughtful new features that customers will love," says Anthony Wood, Roku's CEO, in a statement. "The intuitive new interface makes it easy to find movies and shows quickly while the private listening mode is perfect for late-night streamers who don't want to wake up the family."

To sweeten the pot, the company is even releasing the redesigned UI to Roku 2 XS users in April.    

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