Roku Update Sparks TV Soap Opera Over Image Quality And Users Are Furious

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As the world churns, a new update from Roku, meant to smooth things over, has instead sparked ire among its customers. The update has imposed motion smoothing onto customers using the service, leaving them feeling as if they are watching the latest soap opera instead of a Hollywood film.

When one thinks of frame rates in terms of watching content, it can be thought of as viewing an old timey flipbook. A flipbook is a pad of paper which has an image on every page, and when someone flips through it quickly, it gives the feeling of watching a mini-movie, with each image being a “frame.” The more frames, the smoother the mini-movie will appear to the viewer.

The same goes for content on TV and in movie theaters, with the industry standard being 24 or 30 frames per second. Now, in a strange and unwanted move, Roku appears to be adding frames, essentially smoothing out the viewable content, and making its customers angry.

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Motion smoothing, also known as interpolation, is typically a feature with modern TVs that adds 'missing' frames to content so that it match's the high refresh rate capabilities of a TV set (say, for example, a 120Hz model). But it also makes the original content lose its cinematic appeal by appearing overly sharp or natural, a phenomenon that's commonly dubbed a soap opera effect (because it resembles a soap opera).

While some may choose to turn this feature on, purists generally choose to leave it off. When Roku customers began noticing the content they were viewing was being smoothed out with no option to disable the effect, many took to social media and Reddit to complain. Reddit user E_FOGEY posted, “50” tcl I’ve had for a number of years started playing everything like a soap opera. There’s no setting to turn it off? Something doesn’t seem right here.”

In response, Reddit user wstr97gal wrote, “I have a Hisense TV and I am also having the same problem. My TV updated on the 16th and for exactly that long everything looks cheap.” The user concluded, “Makes me want to ditch Roku because this is driving me nuts.”

Oddly enough, the motion smoothing issue is also appearing on TVs that don’t have the feature, according to The Verge. This has left many Roku customers wondering what in the soap opera world is going on. While it is possible Roku is working on a solution to the issue, Roku has yet to respond to customers or media about the issue.

Here's hoping Roku addresses the issue with an option to disable the effect in a future update.