Sign In

Roku Created a New Device to Confuse Us All During Black Friday

Can you really say that the Roku SE is 50% off, if it never actually sold for full price?
Published
Roku SE
Best Buy

We're grizzled old hands at this whole Black Friday thing, so it takes a lot to fluster us around this time of year. It seems, however, that Roku, Best Buy, and Kohl's are colluding to drive us mad.

How? Both Kohl's and Best Buy have both made mention of a Black Friday deal for a Roku SE Streaming Player. Except, up until this week, there was no such thing as a Roku SE. There are Roku 1s, 2s, 3s, 4s, and even a Roku Streaming Stick — but no Roku SE.

We reached out to a Roku representative to find out what exactly this thing is, and it turns out, it's a "special edition player for the Black Friday weekend" that retails for $49.99 and will drop to $25 during Black Friday.

Update: Roku Announces the SE

On Wednesday, Roku officially announced the SE and outlined it's specs. These include Roku OS 7 (the most recent version), 1080p video streaming, and compatibility with older TVs. All these, as well as it's very low price point, suggest it is similar to the Roku 1, which is still a reliable budget streamer. But details are still sparse on the SE, and we're curious to see more.

CordCutterNews has gotten their hands on an SE. In an unboxing video, the hardware seems identical to a Roku 1, and in a side-by-side performance test, they are also identical. However, the SE should have an updated OS by Black Friday

This supports the theory that the SE is just a rebranded Roku 1, and while that might be retail trickery, $25 is an undeniably good price for Roku's entry-level device.

Following in the Footsteps of TV Manufacturers

There's ample precedence for the Black Friday "special edition" tactic. For years, TV manufacturers have created TV models specifically for Black Friday, to throw off diligent shoppers; if there's a new model of a TV, only available on Black Friday, then it's harder to comparison shop.

These limited-time only SKUs have been the bane of our price comparing existence, but this is next-level stuff since it's a streaming device and Roku has so few models to begin with.

It's unclear how the SE compares to the existing Roku lineup, but we're guessing it's somewhere on par with the Roku 1, which also retails for $49.99. That's the most basic set top box that Roku currently sells, and it's pretty no-frills.

Can You Really Say it's 50% Off if it Never Sold for Retail Price?

This item supposedly retails for $49.99, and there's a listing for it at Best Buy, although it's "sold out." Both Best Buy and Kohl's are advertising Black Friday prices for the box that fall to $24.99, which is theoretically 50% off. But can you really claim that it's $25 off if it never sold for $50 (or for any price) to begin with?

All that said, $24.99 does beat all our predictions for a streaming device that isn't just a "stick." However, with so few details about the specs, it's hard to say whether that's worth it.

Readers, what do you think of this Black Friday deal?


User Experience Researcher

Jeff Somogyi is the DealNews User Experience Researcher. Since working here he's written deals, features, promotional and newsletter copy, blog posts, as well as scripts for our videos. Follow him on Google+, Twitter at @sommerjam or his blog.
DealNews may be compensated by companies mentioned in this article. Please note that, although prices sometimes fluctuate or expire unexpectedly, all products and deals mentioned in this feature were available at the lowest total price we could find at the time of publication (unless otherwise specified).
You might also like
Leave a comment!

or Register
7 comments
dealnews-bglaser (DealNews)
@Heyitsrick

Thanks! Did CordcutterNews say how they got the Roku SE so early?
Heyitsrick
This is a rebranded Roku 1. Cordcutternews.com did an unboxing of this unit, and it looks exactly like the Roku 1. Plus, when turning the device over so the model number sticker shows (see the unboxing video in my links below), it's exactly the same model number as the Roku 1. And I mean exactly.

Cordcutternews.com also did a performance test in a separate post between the SE and 1, and they performed identically. About the only difference from the Roku 1 and the SE is that the 1 comes with RCA cables in the box (apparently). The SE doesn't.

See these links: Unboxing the SE and comparing it to Roku 1: http://cordcuttersnews.com/...rison-to-the-roku-1/

Performance test of SE and Roku 1: http://cordcuttersnews.com/...ser-experience-test/
bciocco
It's tough to say. The inputs aren't listed and I didn't see a picture of the back.
The text mentions wifi, but does it have an Ethernet port?
I imagine it's worth the money; streaming sticks sell for more. What would one be missing out on if it was simply a Roku 1 with a new OS?
retb
Thanks! You nailed it!! Without knowing the specs, I would not touch it with a ten-foot pole!!!
illkitty
I think this is the Roku 1 with the updated OS running on it based on the specs found here:
https://blog.roku.com/...al-you-dont-want-to-miss/

"Runs Roku OS 7, the newest built-for-TV operating system"

Also, by having limited quantities, they don't have to put the Roku 1 on sale, and limited time usually makes people buy stuff in droves in fear of missing out.

I was going to purchase a Roku 1 for my Mom anyway, might as well get the better one for her.
RChenoweth
They could have said it retails for $99, got our hopes up that it was equipped like the Roku 3, and then said it's 75% off, too. I expect that makes the reasoning that it's similar in (lack of) features to the Roku 1.
iowac
what i would call the sham wow guy type of 50% off nonsense, companies trying to dupe their customers to THINKING they are getting one hell of a bargain deal on a what seems to be now over glorified day that really does not lead to that many really great deals, only deals that seem to be fantastic, for those who are paying attention to prices through the year they typically can spot the few really great deals on black friday. When just about every week there is supposedly the lowest price of the year sale black friday really is losing its glory. With this type of scamming it will slide further into just meh whatever
Enter to win $2,000