Pros + Inexpensive, fast, high quality
+ Incredibly easy to use and set-up
+ Interface and ergonomic hardware design work perfectly
+ Pay and free services is pretty amazing
Cons - Small amount of built-in memory (expandable via MicroSD slot though)
- No iTunes integration
Summary Having used my original Roku since Christmas of 2010, I was very much looking forward to the new Roku2 XS, Roku's new premium model. As I opened the box, I was absolutely amazed at the diminutive size of the new model. Using and working in computers since the late 70's, I am always a little taken aback upon seeing how small devices are becoming today. Covered in protective plastic and packaged very well for shipping, the Roku is actually sort of cute. A really nice black shiny exterior provides no hint of the many hours of viewing and now gaming pleasure this product can provide. When placed alongside my other home theater units, its small size seems to belie that it actually belongs there. It looks more like it's the wireless hub of some other product.
Small size aside, my Roku2 XS is now plugged into a video switch using RCAs, which is connected to my 45" Mitsubishi NTSC industrial rear projection unit. While I have HD in my computer room, I still haven't made the switch in the main family room, as I really want a 65" unit and need to save, save, save for one. Since I was using the NTSC output, the Roku2 came with all the cables I needed for setting up and getting started viewing. After plugging in power and an Ethernet cable, everything fired right up through the boot sequence and the Roku2 detected both the controller and the wireless network immediately. For this first use, I decided to set up the unit with WiFi and wrote down both the mac: addresses and updated my router to hand out the IP's I wanted for each network connection. Once I had the router set up, I went back to the Roku and selected the wireless network on the setup screen, the unit found my network and the internet right away. I then registered the unit on the Roku site from my computer and set it up on my account with Netflix, as I am truly addicted to watching older TV series from beginning to end.
The new remote/controller fits a bit better in my hand than the original and the safety strap is a great addition now that the remote is used for motion control as well. The sizing clip on the strap allows for adjustment to little hands to prevent the remote from being thrown through the screen, as portrayed on TV. Having very large hands, it would be nice if the remote had a second groove such as the one on the bottom on the very front end. This would allow people with larger hands like me the ability to wrap their index finger around the front end and better grasp the device. All in, I love the new controller with the motion control, which I will get into in more detail below.
Once everything was working properly and setup was finished, the urge to see Angry Birds could no longer be fought off. Having never seen the product except for a minute or two on a friend's phone, I was extremely curious about this new game phenomenon. Moving through the menus was quite easy and I quickly located the new Angry Birds game where I choose to go straight into game play without any diversions. I should probably reveal here that I refused to look at any documents, manuals, or any written materials included in the box. I am a firm believer that most devices intended for home theater use should be self evident in their setup and the Roku2 is right up there with the best of them at this. Choosing the first icon on each screen, I started the game and found myself with my first opportunity to fling small birds at pigs using a slingshot. The only thing capable of making this more fun would be adding copious amounts of beer. I mean really, what could be better, I ask you? Graphics were as good as my NTSC rear projector could make them, which, all in all, is pretty darn good for a 23-year-old TV. I also played Angry Birds on my 22" HDTV for comparison and the images were incredibly crisp and gorgeously saturated for both bird and pig popping at very fine detail. Once I got past laughing at the ludicrous nature of this game it became quite addictive and the motion controller was almost second nature after only 10 minutes or so. The game is easily understood and children just love it, adults spend a great deal of time laughing at the bizarre concepts in the game but then the game becomes both infectious and quite competitive. Adding Angry Birds to the package was a wonderful idea, delivering both serial non interactive content such as movies and interactive game play truly makes the purchase of a Roku2 a no brainer.
Now we come to the main reason for a Roku2 in your house or mine, content, we all know that is why we buy devices like the Roku2. We want it inexpensive, fast, at high quality and at our convenience. Well the Roku2 really delivers above and beyond; my first movie on Netflix was Restoration, with Robert Downey Jr. a 17th century story about a Dr. and his time at the court of King Charles II. Timing the download upon selection from my queue list in HD format, it took 1.5 minutes for the movie to start. This is on Comcast's network and when testing [...] download speeds are about 22 Mbps when using sites within 500 miles of my location. Not knowing where the Roku2 connects to Netflix servers it is difficult to determine whether the speed was location affected for this test. Suffice it to say that with such very minor setup the Roku2's download speeds seem to be right up there, making the decision to watch a movie easier when time is short. The quality of the movies was as good or better then any DVD I have watched and there were no hiccups or unexpected pauses during the movie. Everything went smoothly and worked towards a suspension of disbelief. I played with some of the new channels and watched the news and such and found the Roku2 to be both responsive to the remote and very high in the quality of image during play. I wasn't able to test out the 5.1 surround sound due to needing either a HDMI compatible TV or a converter cable to go from HDMI to RCA. I do hear from friends though that it works very well, I'll test it out for myself as soon as I get the 65" hung on the wall.
When all is said and done you have to really hand it to Roku, their products are incredibly easy to use and set-up, the interface and ergonomic hardware design work perfectly together. And lastly, the amount of content accessible both through pay and free services is pretty darned amazing to be honest. It's really no wonder the cable operators are worried, they should be.
I'm very happy with my Roku2, as an upgrade it really shines by adding new content, new features and the new motion control remote. Also with it's even smaller stature it won't threaten any of your other home theater products at all, whether you are upgrading from a Roku1 or just entering the world of Roku content for the first time. You will find a Roku with the features you want a great asset and addition to your existing or new home theater system. At a price which will never break the bank and models at different levels Roku has once again set the standard others will have to meet and If you will buy the Roku 2 XS I suggest you have to compare prices before you decide at --> Lowest-pricing.info/Roku2XS
Hope this review helps.
Pros Only $100, Great video output via HDMI, Easy to use UI, Best replacement for sat or cable tv.
Cons Haven't found one yet.
Summary The people that have rated this device a low score must not have high speed internet and still have "rabbit ears" connected to their tv.
I was paying $125 per month for a ton of channels (including premium channels) from my service provider. I didn't have a true reason to cancel the service, but I thought about the money I could save if I cut them out. I went for it! Now instead of spending $1500 a year I have forecasted my yearly expense to $250 a year for shows and movies I watched via sat/cable tv.
I thought it was a joke that this little box can do more than my out-dated laptop. It sure proved me wrong. I have not experience a delay streaming shows or netflix. I mean, there is a wait for loading but these days, what doesn't stall to load for a very few seconds?!?
I'm glad I ditched my sat provider and got with Roku and the streaming services provided by Hulu, Netflix and others. I was considering Boxee Box, WD TV Live, and a few others. Roku out did the rest and to my surprise went above and beyond Apple TV.
I highly recommend Roku if you want to replace your cable tv but you will need high speed internet and an HDMI cable. I'm sure if I try Roku out with my mom's old tv, I will have the same positive experience.
Pros Small, Easy to set up, stable, new channels coming out all the time, 1080p, memory card slot, usb port, big bang for your buck, gaming potential
Cons would be nice to stream local media. still waiting for a working SiriusXM channel
Summary I've been on board since day 1 in 2008. I've had just about every model so far and this one is the best. I know there are other similar devices but this one really is the best. Apple may have mastered mp3 devices, but Roku is the be all end all home streaming device.
Since I bought Roku, I've been able to cancel cable and haven't looked back.
The Netflix channel is my favorite. The Amazon channel is nice is you're a prime member (which equates to free streaming), Pandora is always nice too.
The HuluPlus channel, which I had high hopes for turned out to be a bust. It quickly became overrun with commercials and offered only limited selection.
I highly recommend this device if any of the following apply; you're tired of throwing money away on cable, want to stream your netflix without burning out your game console or just want to have a more complete home entertainment set up.
Pros Tons of channels. Easy setup and use. Dolby Digital. 1080p. Ability to add private channels.
Cons No optical audio output. No DLNA (hopefully just not yet).
Summary I agree with the reviewers positive points. But there is one glaring omission. I have been using Roku for over a year now and just upgraded to the Roku 2. I really like it but the lack of an optical digital output doesn't make sense. Especially since they make a point of 5.1 audio and at the same time "older" TV support. This is the "flagship" model. My old Roku had an optical out... So, to get the benefit of digital audio/surround sound i had to purchase an ADDITIONAL device to extract the audio from the HDMI and output it to a Toslink (optical port). Plus I had to purchase an additional HDMI cable to run into the audio extracting device. :-/ It more than DOUBLED the cost of the Roku. The only other option would be to use the analog stereo outputs on the Roku. But that would defeat the purpose.
Pros Completely plug and play. Streams HD content at consistent HD speeds. Channel selection wide and deep.
Cons Your mileage may vary.
Summary As with any Wi-Fi based product, location is all. Roku can (and does) deliver a better picture (on my Panasonic VIERA TC-L42D30) than DirecTV, DVD or OTA HD. But, you must take the time to properly position the device. Since the new remote is RF, out of sight placement is quite easy. This is my second Roku, but it won't be my last.