Roku is making a play for brick-and-mortar sales again, offering its mid-range XD box for sale at Best Buy stores nationwide this week. Last year, a Netgear-branded set-top box with Roku software was available at retail store but Roku is betting on its own brand this time.
Roku's XD box offers1080p HD streaming support, Wi-Fi and instant replay, as well as Roku's trademark access to services including Netflix, Hulu Plus, Pandora and dozens of other channels. It retails for $79.99 and will also be available on Best Buy's website.
Roku has sold more than a million boxes online and built a solid following. Bringing its flagship product into the mainstream market and physically within a few feet of customers who may not be "in the know," but still willing to make an impulse buy could pay big dividends.
"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," Roku's chief executive said in a statement.
There are cautionary tales of big box set-top failures, though. Google TV was available in Best Buy stores, but went nowhere.
The difference for Roku this time around may be the fact that the company has a proven, popular product priced under a hundred bucks. Perhaps the strongest selling point is that some of the logos on the back -- from companies like Netflix and Hulu -- are bound to ring a bell with ordinary customers, even if the funny Japanese name on the front doesn't.
This story, "Roku Offers Set-Top Boxes in Best Buy Stores" was originally published by PCWorld.