Joined: Jul 20, 2010
Post Subject: Roku 2
Posted on: Oct 30, 2011
What started as a simple Netflix box, the Roku has branched off considerably. The the new Roku 2 is capable of streaming loads of different internet channels, including paid stuff like Hulu and Amazon Instant Video, while offering a surprising amount of free news, music and other stations.
For those out there looking for a dedicated device for streaming internet content to your television, the Roku 2 is great but it can�t do everything. The model I reviewed was the XD, which is in the middle of the pack. At $79.99, it will stream wireless video at full 1080p resolution and is b/g/n wireless compatable. The cheapest one only does 720p. The cheaper versions also lack a wired ethernet port and the gaming remote which the $99.99 version incorporates. The $99.99 version also has a USB port for things like music and video, which I didn�t get a chance to review, through the XD model does have a micro sd slot for that. Still, if you aren�t interested in gaming on your Roku 2, the XD model has just about everything you need.
At 300+ channels, the Roku 2 surprised me with how much content was available for free, but if you really want to get your money�s worth, having something like Netflix is really where it�s at. Some of the services, like Crackle, don�t offer enough to justify the purchase in my opinion. Not that these free services don�t offer a bunch of content, but if you are only using the free stuff it is likely you�ll be left wanting more.
As far as ease of use, the Roku 2 couldn�t be more simple. After you connect to your wireless network, you�re good to go. There are a handful of channels already there for you to watch, like Netflix, Hulu Plus and Crackle, and finding more channels is as easy as taking a look through the channel store. Find one you like and it will be added to your list of channels.
Performance wise, I did notice some minor hiccups. I can�t be certain if it is the service or the Roku itself, but occasionally while watching Netflix I noticed that the audio would go off sync. It usually rights itself after a few moments, but it happens enough that I notice. Other than that, and even without a blazing fast internet service and an older router, most of the content comes in at a full 1080p resolution.
With such a small device, the Roku 2 blows me away a little. I know that I couldn�t make something so small do so much. There isn�t much to gripe about other than occasional lapses in video quality with the Roku 2, and those could be attributed to the services themselves. At such a low price, if you need something to watch streaming video on your television, the Roku 2 won�t disappoint.