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Most of us are familiar with Google (Android) TV or an Amazon Fire TV device, but biting at the heels of these well known streaming devices is the Californian company; Roku. They have been successful with their simplistic OS and innovative hardware. Initially focused on these two platforms, they have since branched out into soundbars, and (after agreeing a partnership with Wyze) are now looking to put their mark on a wider range of smart home devices.
Who is Wyze?
Wyze Labs Inc is a relatively new company formed by former Amazon employees in 2017. They primarily operate in the security camera space, but also provide solutions for health & wellbeing, lights, door locks, network devices, wearables, alarms, to name but a few.
You might ask “why would a company be willing to rebrand all these products?”, and the answer is probably one of necessity.
Getting Off On The Wrong Foot
Despite not being around for long, Wyze hasn’t had the most envious of starts as a tech manufacturer. Criticized for sending data to servers in China and Russia, Wyze’s defense that all data was anonymized wasn’t enough to placate concerns.
In the 6 years since their founding, they have been involved in a number of lawsuits around patent violation, and in 2019 a server leak caused data of nearly 2.4 million customers to be exposed.
At time of writing, Roku has the following smart home products available:
- Floodlight camera
- Indoor and outdoor cameras
- Indoor 360 camera
- Video doorbell and chime
- Smart bulbs (white and color)
- Smart light strips
- Indoor and outdoor smart plugs
A fairly impressive array of products for their intro into smart home devices. All of these devices are compatible with Google Assistant and Alexa, but what’s most astounding about them is the price.
Roku have always provided a good return for your money (the Roku Streambar was packed with plenty of features and impressive sound for a sub $100 sound bar), and they’ve continued that trend with cameras starting at $26.99, two-pack of color bulbs for $17.99, and even a starter bundle containing a camera, two smart switches and two color bulbs for just $58.97.
The Roku range is also available from Walmart where some of the products are currently priced even lower.
Differences Between The Roku And Wyze Devices?
On the face of it, very little. The cameras, doorbells, lights and plugs are all identical to the Wyze equivalents save for a different four letter logo and a slight change in the speaker hole formation of the cameras (Wyze has a ‘W’ pattern which Roku have removed and replaced with a more standard formation for obvious reasons).
It’s a similar story for the Roku App, the only major difference being the unusual decision to remove video playback via the SD Card. So if you want to playback recordings from the app, you have to be subscribed to Roku’s slightly more expensive cloud service (or remove the SD card and watch it back on a laptop).
The final difference is that with a Roku streaming device, you can access your cameras via the Roku OS, and notifications from the Roku doorbell will show up while it’s in use.
I Have Wyze Products, What Do I Need To Do?
The simple answer is nothing. Wyze Labs products will continue to work with the Wyze Labs app, and a Roku Smart Home app is available for any Roku branded smart home devices. If what you’re hoping to see is some kind of crossover, I’m afraid you’re going to be disappointed. At present the relationship between Wyze and Roku seems purely to provide Roku branded hardware, viewing Wyze cameras on the Roku channel of your TV seems unlikely to happen.
If you’re fairly new to “smartifying” your home, then Roku isn’t a bad place to start. You could quite easily introduce a depth of smart home features to your abode by spending just a few hundred dollars. A retailer like Google would set you back thousands for a similar set up without the product range that Roku have.
You’ll probably need to commit to Roku’s full suite of products however. At the moment you won’t be able to view a camera feed anywhere other than on Roku TV or their smart home app.