Roku 2 HD Streaming Player Review

Posted on February 23rd, 2012 by

By Ryan Moore

For years my wife and I have been on the hunt for the perfect TV solution. Neither of us are real “turn on the TV for the sake of turning it on” viewers but we do have our favorite shows that we enjoy watching. Our current basement apartment suits our needs nicely except for one glaring omission: no broadcast television of any sort. As mentioned, neither of us care enough about TV to fork out a $40-arm here and $80-leg for cable, so our next option was obviously the ol’ fashioned antenna method. I located the cable in the wall, connected it to my television and sat back to admire my handiwork only to discover that the complete static on the screen hadn’t improved at all. A field trip outside led me to the truth that the antenna was no more and was survived by a support post and a coaxial cable to nowhere.

With this reality in my mind, I began to think of what other affordable options we had. Our iMac in the bedroom worked for the occasional Netflix movie or Hulu show, but we wanted to be able to use our television for more than just DVDs and as a dust receptacle. Enter Roku box.

For those not familiar with the Roku box, let me quickly explain. Roku is a company that makes small set-top boxes to display streaming content on your television. You can connect your Netflix, Hulu Plus, and Amazon Video accounts to the device and instantly watch their content as well as choose from hundreds of channels (mainly free) that Roku has procured. The best part? Roku boxes are a one time cost. That’s right, you buy the box and that is it. No need to deal with installers coming in an obtuse time frame, no murky contracts, etc.. Sure you would need to pay for the services such as Netflix, etc.. but these costs pale in comparison to cable costs. In theory, you could even buy the box and never pay a cent afterwards due to their many free channels.

So far, I’ve obviously been impressed. The setup was quite easy and I was up in minutes. Roku has even recently released an iPhone app that allows you turn your iPhone into an effective remote to navigate your content. The intuitive UI helps me get the content I want quickly with minimal actions on my part. Juggling multiple content providers like Hulu, Amazon Video, etc.. has never been easier as each service is a channel which can easily be accessed.

“Why not an Apple TV?” you anxiously ask. I wish, from the bottom of my Apple loving heart that I could recommend it over the Roku box, but I simply can’t. The Apple TV is an amazing piece of tech that is definitely in its infant stages with great potential but the content model and options simply hamper the device as a whole. Hulu Plus and Amazon Video are not currently offered natively on the Apple TV and anything you would like to view will cost you a pretty penny.

Drawbacks? Well, for me personally, I’ve learned you need a pretty robust connection for it to be a seamless experience. Each of the current 4 models only have WiFi capabilities except for the XS model which does have an Ethernet port as well. This means the wireless internet service I share with my neighbors that works fine for my computer usage can sometimes render my Roku useless while I’m trying to stream content. This is definitely something to taken into consideration before purchasing.

Speaking of purchasing, the amazing thing is that the entry level Roku box begins at $49.99. That’s right, 1/2 the price of an Apple TV with significantly more content options. Higher end models even include a motion sensing remote for playing games such as Angry Birds.

Overall I’m very happy with the Roku box and would recommend it to anyone with a decent WiFi connection and content they wish to stream.

Do you have a Roku box? Whats your favorite feature? Do you see streaming boxes the future of the living room? Sound off in the comments.

Image Source: Roku.com

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