Thank you for finally locating a definitive answer that even a latent 4:3 isn't in the HDMI-only Roku boxes at all.
I had gotten the communication from Roku announcing the old first generation boxes as sunsetted, and offering a discount on a new Roku. After going so long without an answer in this thread, my time ran out on the 30-day money-back guarantee, and I returned my Roku 2 for refund a few weeks ago. I also got my money back on the (otherwise extremely high quality) HDMI-to-Composite converter
, for which I got fooled by their advertising which in my opinion perilously borders on fraud ("HDMI to 3RCA Composite AV Converter for Roku 2 and Roku 3")
because I had no idea that it would display a butchered, anamorphic squeezed-distorted picture instead of properly letterboxed widescreen on a 4:3 TV.
I since found out that converters which will adjust aspect ratio typically sell for well over $500, and the cheapest I've seen is this Hall unit
for $200, which is ludicrous for an under-$100 Roku, and there's nothing whatsoever for it listed on eBay.
$30 for the regular converter is do-able, but it would need resumption of the 4:3 Standard setting in the Roku box.
I can understand perfectly that even a few dollars additional unit production costs translates into considerable millions of dollars across a production run, so I see why Roku doesn't want to put composite connectors on the back. But since an aspect ratio setting is already in there, it wouldn't cost them a penny to put 4:3 back in. And if Roku is afraid of additional tech support expense, they could just add a caption, something like, "Display Type: 4:3 Standard (for third-party HDMI converters, not supported by Roku)"
The problem here is that people are grievously understating the market from old TVs by looking at flat screen sales market share,
which of course for CRT TVs is well-nigh zero. But the installed base
of flat screens overtook old TVs only a year ago, and will remain nearly half the market for some years to come, until they eventually become negligible by attrition.source: Broadband TV News LLP, Aug 2014, projected data afterward
You want to know the tell-tale sign when you can ignore the millions & millions of old TVs still going strong? Why, when Walmart stops using precious shelf space to carry digital-to-analog TV converter boxes! (Ironically, in my Walmart they're right across from their Roku display!) Indeed, I would think that proportionately more demand for streaming boxes would come from precisely the most cost-conscious cord cutters wanting to get more mileage out of their old TVs. Roku, Amazon, Apple, etc.
are all shooting themselves in the foot by neglecting installed base.
Meanwhile, I will not be buying a Roku 1, because I see very little improvement over my Roku XDS. As far as I'm concerned, the Roku 1 was sunsetted out of the gate! I am a Roku enthusiast, so I resent being asked to spend a nickel on a Roku 1 with so many inadequacies, among others:
– Waaay too slow compared to the lightening-fast processor in the current Roku 2
– No Netflix profiles
– No ethernet ports
– No dual-band wireless
– Doesn't support Resume Play in Nowhere TV channel
– Won't resume audio in iTunes Podcasts channel
– Doesn't work with Firefox Nightly video casting
Maybe we can hope that the Roku 1 will additionally become what is now the Roku 2 sometime in 2016.
edit, Nov 12, 2015:
– corrected typo "precious" misspelled as "previous"
– brain fart: corrected use of "grandfathered" when I meant "sunsetted"
– Jul 11, 2016: corrected awkward phrasing