Roku, the little box that brings streaming Internet content to your television screen, announced two additions today that bring the Internet TV device to a new level. A device like Roku can be judged both in terms of what content it natively supports and how it connects to other devices to make content sharing easy.
Today's announcements by the company work to increase the device on both levels, connecting it both to content you won't find on many TV networks and to the other device in your room - your computer!.
The first part of the announcement might be most interesting in terms of recent news. Last week, Egypt completely shutdown the Internet in the country and one of the only ways to keep up with events there was by the streaming, online version of Al-Jazeera English. In light of these events, Roku has announced that it has added Al-Jazeera English as a streaming channel in its Roku Newscaster app.
"With so much interest in the current events in Tunisia and Egypt, a lot of attention is being paid to Al-Jazeera and its coverage," wrote the company. "We're working on a number of ways to bring Roku customers both live and on-demand feeds from Al-Jazeera."
For the most part, the news service is unavailable on most U.S. television screens, as pointed out today by The New York Times' Media Decoder blog. To get Al-Jazeera on your Roku box, simply go here and follow the instructions.
In addition to adding Al-Jazeera, Roku announced that it launched a Roku USB Media Player, which "gives Roku HD-XR and XD|S customers the ability to enjoy personal videos, pictures and music right from their USB hard drive." This means that you can play any content you have on your computer directly on your TV.
According to Roku, the USB solution doesn't completely bridge the gap between computer and TV screen, as it needs to plug directly into a USB port on the drive, such as with an external hard drive. But if you don't have an external hard drive, simply copy the content onto a thumbdrive and plug that in. Voila!