It’s easy to miss companies like Roku; they live in the shadows of the giants, they are often gobbled up, generally through acquisition and large payouts, before they become household names. Ok, perhaps Roku is a bit different given that it sits just above or below the most watched household product: the TV.

Roku

Apple has left a gap for Roku

Apple’s failure to advance the Apple TV to levels once expected by Apple Inc. (NASDAQ:AAPL) has left a gap for Roku. With the release of iTunes Radio recently, Apple finally addressed it’s absence from a market that “allowed” Spotify, Pandora and others to occupy until finally jumping in itself. One would think that from a company like Apple Inc. (NASDAQ:AAPL), who turned a cell phone into a smartphone “overnight”, it wouldn’t stand at the sidelines when it comes to audio and video streaming—but it has.

In that video streaming space, Roku is looking strong. Their newest offerings will first provide an equal to Apple TV, but as you use it you may just find that its better.

Apple TV and Roku both offer Netflix

Apple TV and Roku both offer Netflix, Inc. (NASDAQ:NFLX). Apple has its iTunes Store that it can send you first to rent or buy films or shows that are not yet available on Netflix. Roku announced today that not only can it boast over 1000 channels, including HBO GO, but that it is partnering with movie and TV service M-GO to provide nearly the same offerings as the iTunes Store.

A large step forward for Roku comes with the ability to play wireless streamed videos from any other device you may have on hand. It mimics Apple Inc. (NASDAQ:AAPL)’s Airplay to an extent, but Airplay only covers Apple manufactured devices compared to MiraCast that will arrive later this year that will, in theory, allow streaming to your TV via a Roku box from any tablet, smartphone, or PC.

Roku announced a change to its TV boxes

Roku also announced a change to its TV boxes. Essentially these changes offer features available on higher priced receiver boxes at the lower end of the pricing scale. A nice write up of the specs is available here at TomsGuide.

Steve Kovach at Business Insider gives a full review of the Roku 3, and goes so far as to say that it blows away Apple TV. I’m not sure he’s wrong.