Next gen Roku 2 streaming media players released

Roku has officially announced that the second iteration of its PC-free media player is now available in three different models: a 720p version for $59, a 1080p one for $79 and a souped-up $99 XS model that boasts Ethernet, USB and enhanced remote support.

Next gen Roku 2 streaming media players released
Source: The Roku Blog

Anthony Wood, Roku CEO, outlined the Roku 2 in a post at the company’s official blog on Wednesday, explaining that video games will be a focus for the new media player in the near future.

“I expect games to be big on Roku, just like they exploded on smart phones and tablets,” said Wood. “We are spending a lot of time with the major casual game publishers.”

As proof of that collaboration, the executive revealed that the high-end XS model would come bundled for a limited time with a free copy of the best-selling mobile game, “Angry Birds.” Developed by Finland-based Rovio, the title maintains a constant presence as a best-selling app in Apple’s iTunes store; total download figures for the game broke the 100 million mark earlier this year. In May, entertainment industry research firm The NPD Group revealed that half of all the digital games downloaded are now done so on mobile platforms.

In an effort to take a piece of that ever-growing pie, Wood promised the company would greatly expand its game store by the end of 2011. “My goal is to grow Roku into a major low cost family oriented gaming platform, with games in the $5 range rather than $30 range,” he said. “Angry Birds is just the beginning.”

Other promised tweaks will enhance Roku’s Netflix channel, adding full 1080p HD support and subtitles. A new Facebook channel is set to debut on the Roku 2 devices, and Wood hinted that the company is looking into bringing YouTube to its box as well.

Are you already a Roku owner excited for the new model? Or have you yet to purchase a dedicated streaming media player? Let us know in the comment section.