Roku's assault on the Apple TV and other streaming set-top boxes continues with its cheapest device yet, the $50 Roku LT.
Like the $60 Roku 2, the LT streams video from Internet sources like Netflix, Amazon and Hulu Plus in 720p, using a Roku-approved list of "channels" that are optimized for the device. But unlike pricier models, the LT doesn't support Bluetooth -- so no Angry Birds using Roku's optional Bluetooth game controller -- and it lacks a microSD slot for storing local media or additional streaming channels.
Roku's higher-end models, the $80 Roku 2 XD and $100 Roku 2 XS, support 1080p video. The XS also includes a game controller, a copy of Angry Birds, an Ethernet port and a USB port.
This holiday season could be a big one for Roku. Earlier this year, the XD and XS models landed at retail stores, including Best Buy, Fry's and Radio Shack. If those high-end devices are joined by the LT, its $50 price tag could definitely get people's attention as a stocking stuffer.
Meanwhile, streaming video is heating up, with services like Amazon Prime Instant and Hulu Plus vying for a piece of the market that Netflix once dominated. Cable cutters have more options than ever, and at nearly half the price of an Apple TV, the Roku LT is the cheapest standalone device for streaming Internet video to a television. (One notable drawback with Roku: It doesn't have a YouTube channel, but it's apparently working on one.)
The Roku LT will be available in November at the company's website, through Amazon and at retailers nationwide. Roku also announced that all of its set-top boxes will get HBO Go, but only for users who subscribe to the channel through their television provider.