Roku software heads to 4K TVs, with HDR in tow

Roku is stepping up its plans to be the default platform for smart TVs, with 4K and HDR support headed to televisions this year.

Although Roku is best known for its streaming set-top boxes, for the past couple of years the company has also been loading its software onto televisions, from vendors such as TCL, HiSense, and Insignia. Roku hopes to be on 60 smart TV models this year, up from 40 models in 2015.

Some of those models will include 4K (or UltraHD) support, starting with some 4K TVs from TCL this spring. Roku says TCL is the fastest-growing TV brand in America, and Roku CEO Anthony Wood has previously said he expects smart TV revenue to overtake the company’s set-top box business in a small number of years.

Beyond 4K resolution, Roku is also throwing its support behind high dynamic range video, or HDR, which promises a wider color palate and deeper blacks in videos that support the format. Roku says it will offer an HDR reference design that supports both the HDR 10 standard and the proprietary Dolby Vision versions of the format, allowing TV makers to easily integrate the technology in their sets. (Adoption of HDR, and whether we’ll see any resolution on competing implementations, is looking to be one of the major TV themes at CES this year.)

Roku isn’t alone in trying to become the leading software platform for smart TVs, as Google has similar goals with its Android TV platform. However, major TV brands such as Samsung, LG, and Vizio are continuing to developer their own smart TV solutions instead. Roku is hoping its low cost structure, ongoing software updates, and huge app selection can give it an edge for TV makers who don’t have their own platforms.


Jared Newman

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