For the first time, Roku is bringing one of its set-top boxes to the bricks-and-mortar world.
Starting today, customers who peruse the store shelves at Best Buy will find the Roku XD in store, Roku announced today. The device will also be available on Best Buy's Web site. In addition, Roku said that its players are available at BJ's Wholesale Club, Fry's Electronics, and RadioShack.
The Roku XD is the company's middle-of-the-road set-top box between the cheaper Roku HD and the more expensive Roku XDS. The XD retails for $79.99 and lets users play up to 1080p HD video content. Roku's software can handle all kinds of streaming content, including movies and television shows from Netflix, Amazon Instant Video, and Hulu Plus. It also includes access to music services Pandora and MOG, among others. Flickr and Facebook are also available on the platform.
The move to retail is another important milestone for Roku., which has been selling its players online with much success. The company announced earlier this year that it had sold 1 million players through 2010, and over 1 billion streams have been delivered through its set-top boxes since the first device's launch in 2008. With the help of Best Buy, Roku could be poised for even greater success, since consumers can get the same device at the same price, but get it home sooner.
"Customers can now grab a Roku off the shelf at Best Buy, take it home, and be up and running, enjoying their favorite TV show, movie, music, or sports team in just a matter of minutes," the company's founder and CEO, Anthony Wood, said in a statement.
Even so, Roku finds itself in a hotly contested market. Apple, Boxee, Logitech, and others are vying for consumer attention. And at least so far, the latest Apple TV, which hit store shelves last September, has been leading the way.
Apple announced late last year that its set-top box would hit 1 million units sold by the end of December. It did so in just a few short months. Roku hit that milestone after more than two years. But that was before Roku had a brick-and-mortar outlet. And it should be interesting to see how it fares now that it's competing on a more even playing field against Apple and the others.