What is Roku?

Roku 2   What is Roku? video streaming devices 2

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.

Roku Channels

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.

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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.

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There are currently 4 versions of Roku currently on the market; Roku 1, Roku 2, Roku 3, and the Roku Streaming stick. They all offer 1080p high definition and have built-in wireless and wired connectors. Let’s take a look at the different Roku models and see what each one has to offer:

 

Roku 1

The smallest and most affordable of the Roku streaming boxes, this little guy will set you back $50. Roku 1 offers the full Roku experience without all of the bells and whistles. There’s no headphone jack for your remote, no USB, Ethernet, or microSD slot. It also lacks dual band wireless, so your signal may suffer a little if you have a slow connection. Roku 1 sports an IR-based remote control; so if you lose your remote you can easily replace it with a universal remote; and the remote comes with shortcuts to Netflix and Amazon Prime.

One of the biggest advantages to Roku 1 is the fact that it can still hook up to older televisions. While most of the older models could hook up to an analog television; some of the newer models are only compatible with “modern” televisions. You will notice that Roku 1 also uses some of the older version of your favorite apps like Netflix. Although it may seem like a disadvantage, it actually runs faster than some of the newer apps.

All in all Roku 1 is great for people that have an old TV, are on a tight budget, or just don’t simply care about all the extra features.

 

Roku 2

At $70 Roku 2 is more expensive than Roku 1; but it has some extra features. Roku 2 comes with dual band wireless as well as a headphone jack. Sadly, other than that there really isn’t too much of a difference between Roku 1 and 2. They both play 1080p high definition, they both have analog jacks for older TVs, and they both lack the USB, Ethernet, and microSD slots that Roku 3 has.

Aside from the dual band wireless and headphone jack, the only other difference is that Roku 2 actually runs slower than Roku 1. The controls are just sluggish and not as responsive as you would like; which is perplexing considering that it runs older versions of video apps like Roku 1.

If you don’t want to fork out the extra cash for Roku 3, and you really want a headphone jack, then Roku 2 will suit you fine. If you have simple streaming needs, you might want to look at a different Roku model.

 

Roku 3

Roku 3 is the most expensive of the Roku models, costing around $100. While twice as expensive as Roku 1, it has a lot of cool features that make up for it. You have all the features of Roku 2 but it is way faster and it uses the most recent versions of your favorite apps.

It also has an Ethernet port if your wireless isn’t fast enough, it has a microSD port for extra memory, and it has an USB port that can send pictures, music, and videos to your TV from a connected device like a smart phone. There are also motion controls built into the remote for playing games, but it’s not fleshed out enough to be a real selling point. Roku 3 takes a play out of Google Chromecast’s playbook and lets your cast video directly from your apps to the TV.

Roku 3 is great for the serious cord-cutter; and the only real disadvantage is its price. If you’re not into all the bells and whistles, you might not want it; but for everyone else it’s the best option out there.

Looking to buy a Roku? Compare your options by clicking the image below:

Roku Types What is Roku? video streaming devices 2

Roku Streaming Stick

A relative newcomer to the Roku family, the best way to describe the Roku Streaming Stick is value packed. The Roku Streaming Stick will cost you $50, the same price as Roku 1. What makes the Roku streaming stick so cool is that it’s only a little bigger than a USB stick. It fits in the HDMI port of your television; sadly it is incompatible with older televisions.

Like Roku 3, you can cast from your apps directly to your television. Sacrificing speed for size, the streaming stick won’t run as fast as the other Roku models. It can be a bit frustrating loading up apps, and the controls can be unresponsive at times. Also, you will have to wait a bit longer when booting up with the streaming stick.

The Roku Streaming Stick has a wifi based remote, so if you lose your remote you won’t be able to simply replace it. However, if you have a smart phone you can download an app that turns your phone into the remote. You can get it for Android here and you can download it for iOS here

If you don’t mind a little wait, love small things, and are on a tight budget the Roku Streaming Stick is for you.

If you are trying to choose between Roku’s Streaming Stick and Google’s Chromecast read “Roku Streaming Stick vs Google Chromecast“.

 

Still not sure which Roku is right for you? Roku’s website has a helpful infographic detailing the differences between the four models. Click here to learn more

 

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“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.

 

 

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As always, comments are welcome and encouraged. Cheers!

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  • Pat Bushey

    I had never heard of Roku until today so I do not know much about it, but the little bit I read would leave me to believe that since I have satellite internet (the only thing available where I live) with a download limit per day that this option is not going to work for our house as even short video’s use up our download limit and put us over our limit. Is this correct?

    • http://www.killthecablebill.com admin

      Hi Pat
      Yes I believe you are absolutely right. The Roku (like all the other Video Streaming Devices out there) is built to stream data from a standard Internet connection; and with a download limit – it is probably not going to work very well for your situation. Have you looked into OTA (Over-the-air) broadcasting? An indoor Antenna only takes 5 minutes to plugin and you’ll gain access to local television shows and several HD Major Network TV Stations – such as NBC, CBS, ABC & FOX. To determine if this is a good solution check out my blog at: http://www.killthecablebill.com/hd-without-cable/

  • Chevonne T

    is this available in uk?

  • Thomasp48

    The article says you need at least 1.5Mbps. If this is the only speed you can get, is Roku still worth buying?

    • Anonymous

      I think so, but it really depends on what type of content you are looking to watch. If you want to watch Blu-ray from time to time (for example) then the Roku would not work. Your best bet is to get a PS3 IMO. If you are looking for best video streamer out there, like Netflix, and dont need any of the other bells and whistles… then YES the Roku is the best product out there for the money. If you have not already, you should read “What You Need to Know When Shopping for a Video Streaming Device” http://www.killthecablebill.com/product-reviews/#comment-374391279

      This article will give you a great overview of all the different options out there, and what will work best for your particular needs.. Good Luck. and please check back in and let us know what you decide on.

  • Djrpub

    just heard of this device and very intersted as R some of my family and friends. It sounds like I would just keep my internet conection and cancell my tv service. Is his true? How would I watch my local TV stations?

    • Anonymous

      The Roku wont allow you to watch local TV stations (yet), so for this I suggest you look into buying an Indoor Antenna. For more details read: “HD Without Cable – Using a Simple Indoor Antenna” http://www.killthecablebill.com/hd-without-cable/

  • Jenningsplace

    We got rid of our cable tv, but kept our cable internet and are currently watching programs through our pc. We don’t watch much tv, so paying the high cable bill just didn’t justify keeping it. I found out about Roku about a month ago & it sounds like that would work better for us. We already have internet in our office, but would need access in our living room & bedroom. Would getting it in these rooms cost extra or would they just run extra cables in these rooms under our existing account or would it be better to have wireless cable added. Just trying to figure out what all we would need to do to get Roku set up the cheapest way possible. Thanks.

    • Bali1228

      I stream through my wii, xbox 360, and a Roku xs. The Roku accesses our internet through our existing wifi (although you can run an ethernet cable to it). Also, it can be moved from TV to TV ( I don’t, because I have my game systems hooked up to the other TV’s), so I would suggest buying the top model Roku and moving it to whatever set you’re viewing if you don’t watch much TV, and if you don’t have one already, buying a good quality wireless router. Also, you need the correct input/outputs to hook it to the TV, and an HDMI cable is preferable (it’s not included), but a regular AV cable will do.

      I can’t give any direction regarding channel selection, as I haven’t had much of a chance to really fiddle around with it. I already had an existing Netflix account, and my husband and I are considering either Hulu Plus, or Playon accounts. I don’t like that many of the free channels in Roku’s channel store are mostly clips, but again, I haven’t had a chance to check out any private channels like Nowheremantv.com. If anyone else has any suggestions for viewing, I would appreciate it, and I hope this helps you OP.

    • Anonymous

      I stream through my wii, xbox 360, and a Roku xs. The Roku accesses our internet through our existing wifi (although you can run an ethernet cable to it). Also, it can be moved from TV to TV ( I don’t, because I have my game systems hooked up to the other TV’s), so I would suggest buying the top model Roku and moving it to whatever set you’re viewing if you don’t watch much TV, and if you don’t have one already, buying a good quality wireless router. Also, you need the correct input/outputs to hook it to the TV, and an HDMI cable is preferable (it’s not included), but a regular AV cable will do.

      I can’t give any direction regarding channel selection, as I haven’t had much of a chance to really fiddle around with it. I already had an existing Netflix account, and my husband and I are considering either Hulu Plus, or Playon accounts. I don’t like that many of the free channels in Roku’s channel store are mostly clips, but again, I haven’t had a chance to check out any private channels like Nowheremantv.com. If anyone else has any suggestions for viewing, I would appreciate it, and I hope this helps you OP.

  • Mcdlane

    Would it be worth it do do away with Directv? Also, would I need to have separate add-ons for each Roku in each room?

  • Mcdlane

    Would it be worth it do do away with Directv? Also, would I need to have separate add-ons for each Roku in each room?

  • http://twitter.com/getmoviestream Eric Roos

    Absolutely love my Roku 2xs. Although I am now addicted to Angry Birds. For the money Roku is the way to go. Indoor antenna will get you your local stations and there are plenty of free television streaming sites and subscription based streaming sites for new episodes of your favorite shows that will save you a lot of money each month over cable or dish. I think Roku has over 350 channels now.Best part is you don’t pay for what you don’t watch!

    • http://www.killthecablebill.com/ KTCB

      Yes Roku is awesome. What are some of your favorite Roku Channels?

  • Bdukes

    I have laptop brand new, and an old LG 420 that keep detecting through Bluetooth ROKU. I don’t know if they are finding it through my Smart TV or my Smart Blue Ray Player and I don’t know how to get ROKU to talk back. The TV and Blue Ray come with Netflix, Hulu, Face Book etc. How can I find out where ROKU is and who the comp and old phone are trying to connect to. I don’t have ROKU as a separate item anywhere that I am aware of

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1568582909 Rick Bauer

    I just purchased one the other day as I ween myself off cable (gotta let the contract expire). It is excellent and have found myself watching it more than the cable.

    There is a lot of junk on there, and by that I mean channels that show movies and tv shows in poorer picture quality and throw commercials in at the wrong time. I guess they want to aggravate me enough to order the PPV for a buck. That’s not going to happen.

  • Hoops and Horses

    The video for the Roku device embedded into YouTube has been removed because of multiple third party violations.

    • http://www.killthecablebill.com/ KTCB

      Thanks for the note Hoops and Horses. Do you mean that Youtube is not working on your Roku? And has the problem been fixed yet?

      • Hoops and Horses

        No, I meant the video on this site.

  • Min Mack

    What are the spectrum of channels the you can watch? Is there a channel lineup somewhere I can find online?

  • txag80

    I watch tv over the air. No WiFi. Would the Roku stick work for me?

    • http://www.killthecablebill.com/ KilltheCableBill

      Great question. The Roku Streaming Stick (Roku Ready Version) is Wi-Fi only. If you are working with a hard-lined internet connection only – you want to consider the set top boxes instead of the stick.