Pros + Streaming rate, video and sound quality are excellent
+ Menu was cool and simplistic and offerred many free channels
+ Set-up was very simple
Cons - No on/off button
- No ethernet connection
Summary Okay, so most of the reviews here cover WHAT the Roku does. I'm going to get into some specifics about this VERSION of the Roku versus others.
I've owned several Roku devices, including their very first model. In the second gen line, I've had the XS, the LT, and now the HD. I briefly upgraded to the Roku 3, but ended up selling it, trying another brand of streaming player (I know... Bad plan) and then going back to the Roku by way of this HD model.
So here's what I can tell you about them:
LT: Basically the same as the HD with some minor feature differences. The LT remote doesn't have the quick review button (or whatever they're calling it) that lets you instantly jump back a few seconds in a video. I'm fairly certain the unit is capable of doing this, but they just don't ship it with a remote that has that button. You could always get a new remote if you wanted that feature. As far as playback and video quality are concerned, the LT seems to be the same as the HD. 720p max, no wired network port, no USB port, no TOSlink/optical audio port.
HD: As I said above, it has no USB port, no TOSlink, no wired networking, and maxes out at 720p... But it has a quick review button on the remote. WOOO! It's also a more tasteful black color with a purple stripe at the bottom, as opposed to the LT's purple look. In comparison to the Roku 3, once upgraded to the new Roku interface, it seems to be pretty snappy and works quite well. It doesn't support motion controlled games like the Roku 3, and it doesn't have the nifty headphone jack on the remote (which I never used anyway).
So... Do I miss the extra features of the XS or Roku 3? Not really.
USB port: I always found Roku's implementation of USB playback to be rather awful. It's fussy about files being encoded a certain way, doesn't like certain audio tracks, has no media scraper to get titles or information, and-- worst of all-- seems to lack the ability to simply list videos in alphabetical order; Your video folder will be all sorts of messy, because the Roku seems to organize videos in USB sources by last modified date, or something like that. Honestly, I got a headache trying to troubleshoot this problem, and it's a problem that Roku has flat-out refused to address since they added USB support. They simply aren't interested in this side of the device.
So what I'm saying is that the Roku 3 is lousy at handling local media via USB. This is part of the reason I didn't go back to the Roku 3 when I did come back.
Motion Remote with Headphone Jack: As I said, I never used the headphone jack. It's just not a feature I needed. I have a receiver that supports a variety of wireless headphone solutions, so the headphone jack was redundant and clunkier than what I have. I tried it once. It works. I hardly see it as a game-changer or a reason to pay more. The HD doesn't have a headphone jack on the remote and you'll probably never miss it.
The motion control is cool if you really want to play Angry Birds Space on your TV and don't have a dozen other devices to play it on. Otherwise, it's kind of a bust. So few games use it, and honestly, the game selection for Roku is pretty bad. They really don't seem to be putting a lot of effort into games, and games are the only place where the motion control is useful. Most games don't even use motion control, anyway. So do I miss it? Heck no!
1080p Playback: Here's the thing... Netflix**, Amazon, Hulu, and most other streaming services don't even have any 1080p videos to play on your Roku. In fact, the only Roku channel I know of that does support 1080p is Vudu, and those are the most expensive pay-per-view choices on that service. To the naked eye, the 720p versions look just as good on most TVs up to 60", and videophiles are going to hate watching compressed, streaming video anyway. It takes up more bandwidth, too. So bearing that in mind, chances are most Roku owners aren't going to be watching a lot of 1080p content, simply because IT ISN'T AVAILABLE. So do I miss 1080p playback? NOPE. I barely used it, and most of the time, that was in PLEX or via USB when I could get it to work.
So bottom line: The Roku HD is a great choice for most people. You probably don't need 1080p playback because the content isn't available on your streaming service of choice. You probably won't need the headphone jack because you've got other, better solutions for watching without others hearing it. You probably won't need the USB port because you can pick up a Micca player that handles WAY more file types, codecs, and properly alphabetizes the local content. You won't notice the slight speed difference in the menu (really, it's not that noticeable. It's not "slow" by any measurement). You can get your 5.1 audio via HDMI, so you probably don't need TOSlink. And anybody who's anybody has decent WiFi today, so you probably don't need the wired networking, either.
If you think that's you, then congratulations! You can save yourself fifty bucks by getting the Roku HD instead of the Roku 3.
As for me, I decided there is no all-in-one set-top box that handles streaming services AND local media via USB with everything I wanted (Crackle, Hulu, Vudu, Amazon, Netflix, Plex, Pandora, USB NTFS support, All file containers and codecs, DTS/DPLII/AC3 passthru, thumbnails, scraper, etc.) and so I split the task between this Roku HD-- Basically the best device for streaming services in existence-- and the Micca EP600, which handles all the local media via USB in ways the Roku could only dream.
In the end, I spent a tiny bit more than I would have on another Roku 3, and I got everything I wanted.
So my recommendation in this messy, all-over-the-place editorial/review is to get it! The Roku HD is probably the "sweet spot" when it comes to Roku devices, balancing price, desired features, and quality. The LT might also be a good choice, but for the minor price difference (if any) it's nice to get the better remote and the more friendly color for your entertainment center (unless you really like purple).
Seriously, for you cord-cutters out there: Get the Roku HD or LT, and then use the pennies you saved to buy a nice Micca player. They range from $30 on up, and they're pretty much ALL going to handle USB local media better than the more expensive Roku models ever will.
PS: before you buy, I suggest check for best price at: Mediaplayerrelease.blogspot.com/p/roku-hd.html
Thank for reading, good luck!
Pros I have notice no lag with a 802.11n network. The interface is clean and fast. Performance wise this is every bit as good as the other Roku boxes. 2GB of NAND Flash memory versus the LT, 2 XS & 2 XD that have 256MB.
Cons Larger than the Roku LT, Roku 2 HD, 2 XD & 2 XS. This means it won't fit in the TV mounts available. No micro-SD expansion.
Summary The review states that this is essentially the same as the Roku LT. That isn't entirely true. The Roku LT is made with 256MB of flash memory while the Roku HD comes loaded with 2GB of flash memory. Since Roku pulled the micro-SD slot, Roku saw fit to up the memory so you have more channel capacity in the new Roku HD than the Roku LT. (NOTE: The Roku 2 HD had 128MB NAND Flash with a micro-SD expansion slot, the Roku 2 XD and XS have 256MB NAND Flash with micro-SD expansion.)
Pros - Plays Amazon content.
- Plays HD smoothly with my mediocre DSL connection.
- Amazon HD looks as good as most cable HD channels
- Bargain price
- Wide selection of channels to chose from
- Connects to older, non-HDTVs.
Cons - Most available content is of mediocre to poor image quality (not Roku's fault, but limits its value nonetheless).
- No dedicated Amazon button on remote
Summary I would have bought an Apple TV, but it doesn't support Amazon. I bought this solely to take advantage of my Amazon Prime membership. It does that beautifully, and the small investment has more than paid off.
I would watch many of the other channels, but their image quality is poor in most cases, and some interrupt movies with commercials. So for me, it's an Amazon box, and occasionally Pandora. I don't care much about Youtube, so I don't miss it. My iPad is fine for watching that when I do want to.
720p is HD, and is the format of choice for a number of broadcast and cable HD channels. Most people would not see much difference between it and 1080p, even if there were much of the latter available for streaming. And, like the majority of buyers, my Internet connection would not support the bandwidth needed for 1089p anyway.
I don't see these boxes as an adequate replacement for cable any time soon, but they provide an excellent substitute, and may permit some to lower their cable bill by switching to a more basic plan.
Pros Looks nice.
I wish this could have worked for me.
Cons 1. Cannot connect to a wireless requiring a password in a web browser.
2. Placing your credit card on file to create an account although you can *delete the credit card after the account is created.
according to their support page.
Summary ROKU 2500XI was able to connect to my home wireless so I've seen how it can connect.
This cannot be used when a wireless password is required through a browser.
I purchased this to be used mostly when I travel. Since hotels do not accept a password until you've connected to the wireless network and opened a browser window the current roku interface could never work. Roku allows you to enter a password when connecting to a wireless network which works great for home. I found too late that their support page mentions cloning your computer address to your wireless router. I have not tried this since I don't intend to start traveling with the roku, the router and whatever else this leads into. I'll have to stick with connecting my laptop to the hotel tv for now.
Updated on Sep 11, 2012
Pros Yes, Netflix and MLB work great.
Cons Poor playback quality on Plex avi and divx(Plex blames Roku firmware), layout for Netflix and MLB is poor/ugly. Much nicer on Xbox Live.
Summary Worth under 100 bucks for sure! Very happy with it! However, now that I can get my Plex to play on Xbox I'm beginning to question why I need it...