The most frustrating part of dealing with streaming media players can often be just finding out which services offer the content you're looking for — but Roku is solving that problem by adding universal search to its devices. The "Search Channel" is exactly what it sounds like: a single location for users to look up the movies or television programs they want to see. The channel returns a list of which services offer the content, and how much it will cost to watch. Selecting a given option then drops you directly into the appropriate app and starts your program playing. The channel plugs in to all of the top-tier video services available on Roku boxes, including Netflix, Hulu Plus, Amazon Instant Video, and HBO Go. Users can also key in favorite actors or directors; the channel provides a filmography for each, and users can whittle down their choices from there.
While universal search isn't a new concept in this realm — Google TV was practically built around it — it does address a real issue for users that can't rely on a single streaming service for all of their video needs. It's also a leg up on the Apple TV, which has yet to offer similar functionality, despite seeing a steady stream of updates addressing other features. Roku's new search channel will be rolling out to the company's entire current product line — including the Streaming Stick — as a free update over the next week.