Roku Review: Supports Netflix, Hulu and More
Most of us know that the Roku (and now the Roku – 3) is a small black box that allows you to instantly stream your favorite TV shows and movies to your TV, but most are unaware of how much content is really available. Not only can you stream tens of thousands of movies and TV shows from services like Netflix, Hulu Plus, & Amazon Video On Demand (VOD), but you can also stream sporting events and music from Pandora, iTunes, and MOG.
Netflix Instant Streaming on the Roku offers an impressive library of new, classic and obscure movies and television shows. You can also purchase content from Amazon for more current television shows. To learn more read Amazon Video on Demand. And what recently made the Roku the streaming box to beat, was the inclusion of Hulu Plus and its practically bottomless archive of movies and TV shows.
Sports fans were also taken into consideration with the integration of services like MLB.tv, where you can watch out-of-market games live or on demand, and local games shortly after they have ended. The Roku also offers a UFC channel with live and archived fights. Plus there is the Roku Newscaster, which combines into one offering – several different channels like CNN, NBC, ESPN, Fox, NPR and the BBC.
Here is a full list of all the Roku Channels available
Roku Technical Requirements
With Wi-Fi and the High Definition playback, the Roku Player is probably the easiest way to stream movies and TV shows directly to your TV. To get the most out of your Roku, all you need is a high speed Internet connection, a TV and most importantly, the Roku Player. Your Internet connection must at least be 1.5Mbps, but if you’re a big fan of live sports events or high definition movies, it should be at least 3 or 5Mbps. To test the speed of your connection click here (Visualware). Standard AV cables come with the package but if you have an HDTV, it’s highly recommended that you buy an extra HDMI cable.
There are 4 versions of the Roku (LT, HD, XD, & XS) and they all work with virtually any TV, offer 720p high-definition, have built-in wireless and a wired connectors, and provide a HDMI video output for HDTVs. The Roku XD offers everything previously discussed, plus 1080p high-definition, an enhanced remote, and an extended-range wireless N card. Finally there is the XS, which is another step up from the XD and if offers dual-band wireless technology, optical audio outputs, and a USB port for playing stored photos, music, and videos. The basic Roku offers free HD streaming (minus the cost of channel add-ons like Netflix) and costs ~$60 , which increases by $20 increments for each subsequent version. Roku is so confident that you will love their product, that they offer a 30 day money back guarantee.
Update: Roku 3 was just released
Roku just released the Roku 3, which offers some new hardware and a much needed refreshed user interface. Roku 3 costs $120 (check Amazon Reviews) is now the number one Roku on the market. Here’s a quick rundown of the specs and what’s new: faster processor, dual band wireless, HDMI only ports, 7.1 Audio Support, WiFi direct remote with headphone jack, and of course – a newer cleaner, user friendly user interface.
Roku vs Boxee: Boxee is cheaper version of Google TV that can play back every file type imaginable, as well as stream internet videos through its browser + Flash player setup. In reality, it only does one of those things well; it is “Good at one thing, bad at everything else“. Boxee can handle any random video file you throw at it. It is a fantastic box for playing back downloaded video, and most likely the most robust file streamer out there. But there is no Hulu access (as of now), so what you are left with Netflix and a mish-mash of random internet videos. Plus the Boxee costs 2 times as much as the Roku – priced at around $200. Unless you torrent a lot of shows and movies and need one box to play back all the various formats, this box is not for you.
Looking to buy a Roku?
Now that the $10-a-month Hulu Plus service has launched, the Roku makes a compelling alternative to traditional cable or satellite. You’ll miss out on some content from standard cable channels and live sports, but the combined $19 cost for a Netflix and Hulu subscription is hard to ignore HD without cable when you look at your cable bill.
“15-20 % of Roku owners are cancelling their cable or satellite services agreement and are relying solely on a broadband connection to get their television programming,” said company VP Jim Funk in this exclusive interview with Beet.TV.
To learn more about other Streaming Video Devices check out Product Reviews Page
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