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4,082 of 4,269 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Enormous channels selection, including YouTube (hands-on plus FAQ)
MY EXPERIENCE

For anyone new to the Roku world, I would recommend the Roku 3 over any other previous models mainly on it being so much faster to operate. If 'cost' is an issue and 720p only is not a bother then the LT should be a great pick for half the price.

True for all Roku models: there's an enormous amount of channels to choose from, including...
Published 16 months ago by A. Dent

versus
796 of 893 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Unit is good, remote is too finicky
OK, I am a certified Roku fan, prefer it to Apple, and mind you, between 2010 and now, I've bought 8 (eight) Rokus from amazon, and 1 from Roku directly, making it a total of 9. Yes, 4 of them were as gifts for friends. I've got the whole series, Roku HD, Roku XS, XDS, etc., and a unit each in three rooms. I am disclosing this just to make my point, my...
Published 15 months ago by Kristina O'Donnelly


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4,082 of 4,269 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Enormous channels selection, including YouTube (hands-on plus FAQ), March 6, 2013
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
This review is from: Roku 3 Streaming Media Player (Electronics)
MY EXPERIENCE

For anyone new to the Roku world, I would recommend the Roku 3 over any other previous models mainly on it being so much faster to operate. If 'cost' is an issue and 720p only is not a bother then the LT should be a great pick for half the price.

True for all Roku models: there's an enormous amount of channels to choose from, including most popular ones. And if there's something that you can't find in the official store you can always check the private channel listings (I included the URL of my favorite site) which is where I found things such as streaming CNN, CNN International and BBC World.

The streaming is exceptionally smooth. Quite impressive considering that I set this Roku on the second floor, some 60-70 ft. and two floors away from our Wi-Fi router located in the basement.

This model especially, due to the more powerful processor is easy to operate through Roku's very basic remote control.

Roku 3 and all Rokus are stable. I didn't have the Roku 3 for too long (will update) but my experience with a Roku LT was that it almost never crashes and I only had to manually reconnect to my Wi-Fi router once over a 6-months period.

The 'universal search' feature is quite amazing. You simply type in the name of a movie or show even an actor and you will see all you options on all channels and you will know in advance whether it's going to be free or exactly how much it was going to cost. On the Roku 3 all information appears almost instantly.

_______________________________________________________________

THE FAQ

I will try to keep this section as objective (factual) as possible.

Q: Why would I want a Roku?
A: Roku has, by far, the largest number of 'channels' vs. any other competing product. If you like exploring content beyond the popular services (Netflix, Amazon, etc.) you should consider a Roku?

Q: Why would I want a Roku 3?
A: When compared to previous models, this one has a much faster processor, 5 times faster. The faster processor allows you to quickly navigate the new and much improved user interface but if 'speed' is not an issue, the new interface will appear on the older models by April, 2013. This model also adds a 'private listening' capability through a provided pair of headphones that plug directly into the remote control. In addition it supports Dual-band wireless for faster streaming when connected to a router that supports the feature and has a USB port.

Q: When I shouldn't pick a Roku 3 over other Roku models?
A: Roku 3 does not support 'standard' (non HD) TVs but earlier models do. You should select a 'lesser' model such as the Roku LT when price is the issue and/or your HD TV is limited to 720p and 'speed' is not an issue.

Q: What can I play through the USB port?
A: Video: MP4 (H.264), MKV (H.264); Audio: AAC, MP3; Image: JPG, PNG.

Q: Is the Roku 3 expandable?
A: Yes. There a MicroSD slot for additional game and channel storage memory.

Q: Can I use a Roku 3 with any TV lacking an HDMI port?
A: No.

Q: What are the best screen resolution and audio supported by Roku 3?
A: 1080p, 7.1/5.1 surround sound.

Q: Is the Roku 3 energy efficient?
A: According to Roku, typical power consumption is 3.5W when streaming HD video.

Q: How do I connect a Roku 3 to the Internet?
A: You can do it wither via Wi-Fi or through the wired Ethernet port. Technically speaking: 802.11 dual-band (a/b/g/n compatible) with WEP, WPA, and WPA2 support (wireless) and 10/100 Base-T Ethernet for the wired connection.

Q: What is not included but I must have to make my Roku 3 work besides a TV and an Internet router?
A: An HDMI cable.

Q: Can I control the Roku 3 with a universal remote?
A: Yes.

Q: Do I need line of site to control the Roku 3?
A: No if you use Roku's own remote, yes if you use a universal remote control.

Q: Can I play games on the Roku 3?
A: Yes, it comes with Angry Birds Space preloaded and you may add more games from the store.

Q: Are the Roku channels free?
A: Many of them are but Roku also streams 'premium' channels for which you will require a separate subscription.

Q: What are private channels.
A: These are channels that, for whatever reason, are not listed by the channel store. You can easily make them 'appear' on your TV by picking them from one of the sites that lists such channels. See the first comment to this review for the URLs of such sites.

Q: How much it costs to use a Roku?
A: Once purchased, it could cost you nothing. Or you may subscribe to one or more premium services.

Q: Can I have more than one Roku tied to one account?
A: Yes.

Q: Can I search for a specific movie or show across all of Roku's channel?
A: Yes, you can. Even better, Roku will not only tell you which channel carries it but you will know in advance if it will cost you and how much it will cost to view or 'rent' it. You can also search for other related information such as movies featuring one specific actor.

Q: Can I watch YouTube on the Roku?
A: Yes, a YouTube channel was launched on December 17, 2013.

Q: Can I get live news channels on the Roku?
A: Yes. You may be able to find such channels at the store or as private channels listings but most US 'mainstream' news channels only offer a selection of recent on-demand videos. [I have a link to a listing of 'Roku channels that contain at least one live TV feed' on the comments section, the FIRST comment to this review. Be aware that the listing may not be complete, that some of the channels are 'premium' and that some of them may drop live streams.

Q: Are non-video streams supported?
A: Yes, radio stations and music streaming channels such as Pandora are supported.
_______________________________________________________________

NOTE:

The YouTube channel became available for the US, Canada and Ireland in December 2013.
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2,034 of 2,160 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Are you searching for a way to bring your TV into the 21st century? Here it is.., March 8, 2013
By 
Robert B. (Cleveland, OH) - See all my reviews
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
This review is from: Roku 3 Streaming Media Player (Electronics)
Let me first say that I have been a Roku user for a number of years now, and own a Roku 1 XD, XDS, and a Roku 2 XS. I have also owned and used in the past the Logitech Review using GoogleTV, the last two non-Google TV Sony boxes, and two generations of the WD TV Live streamers. After owning and using all those, the Roku is the only one that has a place in my livingroom, and here's why...

Without boring everyone on the specs of the R's, let me start by telling about my experience setting it up.

Once unpacked one simply plugs the power adapter into the wall and an HDMI cable into the TV and the Roku, that's it. The unit begins booting up then asks you to select whether you want to use a wireless or wired network connection. I selected wireless and it then shows a list of the networks it detected. Once you choose your network you input the password for your network and in a few seconds it connects right away.

Finally it displays an activation code which you are to use to activate and attach the Roku to your online Roku account. For some seeking out a computer that may or may not be near the TV might be a pain, but I simply opened Safari on my iPhone and added the code to my account while sitting in front of the TV.

Once the code is entered, as part of the attaching process you are prompted to add payment info just in case you want to buy a channel or game in the future. You can not bypass this but IT'S OK. Enter it in and finish the account set up. Once you do you can simply choose to delete the payment info and it's erased from the Roku servers.

Once the account is made and successfully linked, the Roku automatically downloads the channels from your account (if you are attaching it to an existing account) or just quickly downloads the few selected during the account creation process, including "Angry Birds Space".

That's it, its that easy to get it set and ready to stream. Of course with some premium channels you will either need to log in to your account from the Roku (Netflix) or similarly link the box to your online account using a computer, smartphone, or tablet browser (Amazon Instant Video).

I have found that the set up is incredibly easy over the numerous boxes I've used over the last few years and always recommend a Roku to especially those less adept at setting up electronics/computers/networking items.

The interface--

The interface of the Roku units has always been a sore point.. When it started out with just Netflix and then just a few channels, the horizontal row of channel icons was fine, but now with HUNDREDS of channels it was sorely needing a refresh. The interface alone was one of the biggest reasons I was always trying different streaming boxes..

I'm so pleased to see the new grid-style interface on the R3. Not only is it beautifully rendered, but it is very, very fast to navigate and to find whatever it is you want in your channel list. Very modern-looking and functional.

One huge thing I notice over the older units in the interface is that besides it being "pretty", even the channels load much faster than previous units thanks to a new processor.

The universal search function is great too, allowing you to search for movies, shows, and even actors across the major providers.

The USB port--

USB functionality is a great add-on for the top tier Roku. The Roku units are first and foremost internet streamers, but the convenience of plugging in a thumb drive and being able to play some of my personal movie collection is great. Video format is rather limited, but again this is an add-on feature not a main selling point. Because I'm an iTunes user, I rip all my movies/shows as H.264 MP4 files because thy are iPhone/iPad compatible, and just so happen they are compatible with Roku as well. Very nice.

Programming----

This is where Roku is just second to none, and why I choose to use it over all the others. Besides the big players like Netflix, Vudu, etc. Roku has such a wealth of programming that I actually hate it. I hate the fact I'm not independently wealthy and have to work for a living, and consequently don't have enough time in the day to watch everything on there I want to. You may very well feel the same way, but not to worry.. Unlike broadcast TV, everything on Roku is on-demand, meaning its there when you want it, not when its being broadcast.

Now sure, there's no YouTube. That might or might not be coming so if you get one, just assume you won't have it. Cute little kitty videos are fun to watch on the TV, but there's tons more you can watch on other channels. I love the fact I can get live streaming news from the BBC or CNN International, or watch cheesy, badly dubbed Kung fu movies, or B-movie horror and sci-fi all night long for free from my Roku if I want lol. The Roku's available programming really is like a buffet, its all you can eat and there's something for everybody.

The remote ---

The remote is very comfortable in the hands and acts as a motion-controlled controller for gaming. It it also isn't infared like a traditional remote so that means it doesn't have to be pointed right at the TV in order to work. The private listening mode worked really nicely when I tried it and I can imagine many uses for it.

Overall the Roku 3 is a great upgrade from the previous Roku 2, mostly because of the new UI (which will be coming to the roku 2 units in a month or two), the faster processor, and the wireless private listening mode. If you already have an R2 XS, I don't honestly think its worth upgrading since its biggest noticeable feature (the UI) will come in time.

For some just now dipping their toes in the world of internet streaming, I personally would get this Roku 3 hands-down over any other competing player on the market. Its so easy to use and that's why not only is it what I use but what my elderly parents use too. The best thing about them is they keep getting better.
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1,350 of 1,459 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Roku 3: The cable company killer well worth waiting for, March 11, 2013
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
This review is from: Roku 3 Streaming Media Player (Electronics)
I wrote a scathingly negative one-star review (see my other Amazon reviews) of the Roku 2 XS when it first became available here on Amazon.com in August 2011.

My final comment after returning the, in my opinion, not ready for prime time Roku 2 XS was something to the effect that I would intentionally be waiting for Roku 3 before ever purchasing another Roku.

Well Roku 3 is finally here and boy oh boy am I ever glad to have waited!

Initial setup of this extremely compact streaming device is truly a breeze and takes just a few minutes.

All of the annoying issues of interference with other devices (sound bar, digital picture frame, Internet radio, etc.) in my living room - in which absolutely nothing has changed since August 2011 when I took the Roku 2 XS for an extremely disappointing spin - have been completely resolved in this new incarnation of the Roku product line.

Internet connection problems are no more even with the very same wireless router and modem that I had back in 2011: The Roku 3 connects quickly and easily to my private/secure WiFi network and streaming of the available channels (a truly overwhelming selection with hundreds of free channels and others at nominal monthly cost) is fast and smooth just like a conventional TV program not originating via the Internet. The audio signal is loud and crystal clear. As of 05/21/2013, I have an approximately 50 Mbps broadband download speed available, but 20 Mbps also has worked fine in the past.

To avoid disappointment before purchasing any Roku model be sure to do your research concerning available programming/channels beforehand. Check the Roku Web site on the Internet to see what is and what is not available as far as channel selection is concerned, as well as what is absolutely free and which programming is associated with a clearly specified recurring monthly fee.

Two sites on the Internet - Roku Guide and Roku Channel Database - also can provide extremely useful information on Roku programming, especially the lowdown on free private channels (such as BBC World News and others) and the needed codes to add them to your Roku device. As of 12/30/2013, I have 123 absolutely free channels installed on my Roku 3 and this includes YouTube which has just recently been added to the impressive lineup.

Especially if you are news junkie, you will be able to get much more than your needed fix and possibly be at serious risk of overdosing from all the English language (and many foreign language) newscasts available from the USA and diverse international sources (UK, Japan, China, Australia, Canada, Russia, the entire EU - most notably Germany and France, Israel, South Africa and many others).

I have read several reviews posted here on Amazon giving the Roku 3 a single star, because the purchaser's incorrect and unrealistic expectations were not met, namely being able to see everything live on all broadcast channels just like he/she could with cable/dish television but for free. Get real! Obviously these individuals did not properly research what this device does and does not do before purchasing it. They are the ones who have earned a one star rating, not the Roku 3!

The remote control provided is simple to use and responds quickly when appropriate buttons indicating one's selections are actuated and it need not be pointed at the Roku 3.

I haven't yet had occasion to use the provided earphones or try out the memory expansion capability with a microSD card, but I really don't expect any problems here.

Overall, this is a very impressive example of technical virtuosity. The device is well worth the price of approximately $100.00 which for many people represents the monthly cost of cable/dish television. It may sound good to have potential access to 200-300 channels, but in reality you're probably really only interested in regularly watching a small percentage (10% ?) of what you're being forced to pay for in those inconvenient channel packages. With Roku 3 and other streaming devices channel selection is always a la carte.

If you're a really smart consumer what you'll do is purchase one of these newly available game-changing Roku 3 streaming devices, pair it with a small and nifty indoor antenna like the Mohu Leaf or the Terk HDTVa Antenna Pro (see my reviews here on Amazon) to also receive TV channels the old fashioned and free way via the airwaves and then cut the cable company/dish cord for good.

I have done this and have been cable-free since August 2011 and am loving it! You too can liberate yourself from cable company/dish slavery and save the cost of a brand new HDTV every year (about $1200.00 annually). Go ahead, cut the cord and finally set yourself free!

Note that if you do decide to pursue a cable-free, dish-free TV lifestyle, don't skimp on the broadband connection that you will need to ensure smooth streaming with minimal buffering; this is especially important with a WiFi connection. Sufficient bandwidth is essential for the Roku 3 to provide an enjoyable TV viewing experience; it can't work miracles without it.
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120 of 130 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Mostly on-demand content, Youtube added in Dec 2013, channel app quality varies, supports few formats for local media, November 3, 2013
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
This review is from: Roku 3 Streaming Media Player (Electronics)
Roku 3 is an audio/video streaming device for your TV and A/V system. It lets you (a) play online audio/video streaming content, (b) play your local media content from USB storage or home network, and (c) play a few casual games. All Roku-brand devices are market leaders at the moment as they support most of the major content providers, such as Netflix, Amazon, Hulu, Vudu, Redbox, Blockbuster, Pandora, etc.

Roku requires a broadband Internet connection of at least 3 Mbps if you want to watch high definition video, or 1.5 Mbps for standard definition video. If you are unsure about your speed, go to Youtube or any online video site and watch some HD videos. If the quality is good, Roku's streaming quality should be too. Note that video quality still depends on individual content providers.

Roku 3 is a little black box that is small and light. Roku 3 actually weighs more than older models, so it doesn't fall off your furniture so easily. With an optional ten-dollar mount, you can mount the Roku box to the back of your TV.

Roku 3 only has one audio/video output available: HDMI. There are no composite (as in older Roku devices), component, Toslink, S/PDIF, nor RCA outputs at all, so those with legacy TV and A/V systems can't use it. Roku 3 also has an ethernet port for wired network connection, and supports dual-band 802.11 a/b/g/n for wireless network access.

Roku 3's default video and audio settings are 720p and stereo. Be sure to change them to 1080p and surround if that's what you need.

Roku 3 is remote-controllable via both Wi-fi and infrared. With Wi-fi, you can control it with the included Wi-fi remote or an iOS device. With infrared, you can control it with a universal remote such as Logitech Harmony One.

Roku 3 also has a microSD card slot and a USB port, which let you use additional storage for content and system settings.

Note that Roku is not exactly a substitute of cable TV because a lot of content can still only be seen on cable, notably live TV: live major sports programs and live broadcast of TV series.

Roku does have streaming of Time Warner live TV (for 300 channels), but you need a Time Warner cable subscription and a Time Warner Internet plan. Stream quality is pretty good. I'm able to watch live sports program in smooth video. But unfortunately there is no surround sound in any programs.

Roku also has limited streaming of live local TV. Without cable, the only way to get live local TV would be to use an antenna.

Most of what Roku offers is archived content, or "on-demand" content. There are hundreds of providers, which Roku calls "channels", that stream select archived programs that you can watch at any time. A wide variety of content is available: movies, TV shows, news magazines, webcasts, food, religion, fitness, technology, etc. A nice selection of international content from around the world is also available. Go to Roku's website and browse its channel store to see all it offers. New channels are added frequently.

There are channels for browsing your cloud media content as well. If you have photo albums on Picasa, Flickr, Dropbox, Shutterfly, etc., you can browse your photos with the Roku.

There are free channels as well as ones that require monthly subscriptions. Wikipedia has a list of free channels offered by Roku. Some channels require payment simply for GETTING that channel. E.g. the Dropbox channel costs 10 bucks.

Roku does not support iTunes or iCloud content because Apple doesn't allow Roku to compete with its own Apple TV device. But Roku does offer a free iOS app that lets you send video, music, and photos from your iOS device to your TV.

One of the big complaints from Roku users was that there was no Youtube channel. In December 2013, a Youtube channel was finally added, but only for the Roku 3 player. You can search, like, dislike, subscribe, turn on subtitles, and flag. You can also sign in to your account, but you cannot comment, nor can you create playlists. You can also send Youtube videos wirelessly from your iOS and Android devices to your Roku.

One of the headaches of viewing on-demand content is that content COULD EXPIRE (no longer be available) without much notice. When and how often content expires are often controlled by copyright holders of the content, who are not obliged to disclose much details to the public. From my observations, for instance, movies on Netflix are available for 2-3 years, or more. Extremely unfortunate circumstances could cause massive expirations. Netflix recently made headlines when it had to expire 1800 shows due to the requests from major studios like Warner Bros and others. Warner later started its own streaming service, the subscription-based Warner Archive Instant, which was recently added as a Roku channel. The losers are the consumers, who have to pay for yet another service to get content.

One important note about expired content is that, if you purchase and own an item, you are able to play it FOREVER, even if it expires later on.

Another headache is the design of individual channels. Functionality, user-friendliness, bugginess, and even streaming quality can vary widely among the channels.

For instance, some channels let you turn on closed captioning, but some don't. Some offer surround sound, and some don't. Some have great video quality, while some have long load times. Some have slick user interface, and some have primitive UI. In short, you are at the mercy of the channel providers (not Roku) as to how good a viewing experience you will get. This is akin to the Apple app store where the quality of every app is different. Roku's Channel Store shows star ratings from viewers, but no detailed info on their quality. There are websites such as RokuGuide dot com that review Roku channels, so look them up. At the end of this review, I will review some of the Roku channels I've used and their qualities.

For those who are not technically inclined, Roku may cause additional headache for requiring you to sign up for many of the channels, which leads to a whole lot of user ID and passwords you need to keep track of.

Viewing UltraViolet content is especially cumbersome: you need an UV account; you need an account from a content provider like Vudu or Flixster; and you need to link both accounts together. It may involve entering a redeem code on UV's website as well.

Besides streaming online content, the Roku device is also a media player for playing your personal local content from an external USB storage or home network. But it supports only a few media formats: MKV (H.264), MP4 (H.264), AAC, MP3, JPG, PNG. For that reason, I have rarely used Roku to play local content.

As I mentioned earlier, you can, however, use the Roku iOS app to send video, music, or photos from your iOS device to your TV. It interrupts whatever is on the screen and replaces it with your content. This is similar to the Airplay feature of Apple TV. The downside is that iOS devices also have limited media support, just like Roku. So if you have media that your iOS device can't play, neither can Roku.

Roku 3 is also a gaming console. Its remote has a motion sensor that works like a Wii controller and allows you to control on-screen movements. Roku 3 comes with "Angry Birds in Space" that showcases nicely the remote's ability. 63 other games are available in the channel store currently. Some are free, most are paid, and some can be trialed for free. All are in the casual game variety. Nowadays, it seems that all gadgets have to do two things at the minimum: stream video, and play games. Will your refrigerator and washing machine be doing the same soon?

And now, my reviews of a few Roku channels:

One of the big complaints from Roku users was that there was no YOUTUBE channel. In December 2013, a Youtube channel was finally added, but only for the Roku 3 player. You can search, like, dislike, subscribe, turn on subtitles for, and flag videos. You can also sign in to your account, but you cannot comment. You can also send Youtube videos wirelessly from your iOS and Android devices to your Roku.

NETFLIX INSTANT costs $8 a month and offers what many believe to be the largest selection of programs. It offers 1080p picture in "Super HD" (fancy way of saying higher bit rate) and also 3D streaming for select titles. If your Internet speed is high enough (at least 5-10 Mbps as required by Netflix), then you will get the best picture and sound quality currently offered by any streaming service. For surround audio, Netflix uses Dolby Digital Plus, a higher bit-rate and better-sounding version of old-fashioned Dolby Digital. Note that older TV sets and audio systems may not be able to process Dolby Digital Plus so check your manuals. As I mentioned earlier, content could expire without warning. The only place to see expiration dates is the Netflix website; Roku's Netflix channel does not show it. Regarding 3D streaming, only compatible TVs are supported. But I'm able to view it on a PC with Nvidia 3D Vision setup.

VUDU is an a-la-carte instant video service. There is no monthly fee, but you pay two to five dollar to rent a video for 24 hours, or pay ten dollar or more to own it. TV series episodes are for purchase only at about 3 dollar each. So VUDU is not for those who watch a lot of TV. It also offers 1080p picture and Dolby Digital Plus audio in "HDX" format (VUDU's version of high bit rate), which requires 5 Mbps, so it is similar to Netflix's quality. VUDU also offers a lot of 1080p movies that are not yet on Blu-ray. Other services offer them too, but VUDU seems to have more of them, including older, less mainstream films that are less likely to come out on Blu-ray, such as "Baby Doll", "Blow-up", "Wait until Dark", Alfred Hitchcock's silent films "The Ring" and "Manxman", and many others. Go to VUDU dot com to see what is offered.

AMAZON INSTANT has an unattractive pricing. Not only you have to pay upfront 79 dollar for one year of "prime membership", but you also have to pay ADDITIONAL 2-5 dollar to rent certain content. Some content can't even be rented and has to be bought. A lot of content can be rent for free with prime membership, however. My experience has been that half of the time I run into something that costs extra rental fee. Without prime membership, Amazon does offer a-la-carte pricing for certain content. Also, Amazon does not yet offer 1080p streaming - only 720p and 480p for now.

HULU offers a lot of free content, but sadly, Roku only includes the subscription-based Hulu Plus, which costs 8 dollar a month. Hulu has a lot of content not found on Netflix or VUDU, such as movies from the Criterion Collection. Like Amazon, Hulu also doesn't offer 1080p picture, only 720p and 480p.

TIME WARNER CABLE TV (TWC TV) lets you view live cable TV from Time Warner on Roku, but you need at least Standard TV subscription plan and Internet plan from Time Warner. Disappointingly, there is no program guide, no surround sound, no Time Warner On-Demand, and no closed captioning. The live TV stream has an almost ONE-MINUTE DELAY from live broadcast. There are also a web version and iOS app version of TWC TV, and they do have program guide, TW On-Demand, and closed captioning. TWC TV offers 300 channels, but only if you view it on your home network. Out of home, you can only view TEN channels. Those "anywhere, anytime" commercials from Time Warner are slightly misleading, since you cannot watch ANY CHANNEL anywhere anytime.

PLEX provides additional streaming channels that are not offered by Roku, such as channels for viewing TV episodes of ABC, NBC, CBS, and A&E programs. There is a hassle factor: you need to install the Plex server software on a PC or Mac in the same network as your Roku device. Plex can stream content from your PC or Mac (such as iTunes video and music) to your TV as well. It also lets you "queue" Youtube clips so you can watch them on Roku, but the queuing has to be done on a PC or Mac.

POPCORNFLIX represents the low end of what Roku can offer. It shows hundreds of free but lesser known movies with blurry, and often choppy picture. You also have to view commercials. Go to Popcornflix dot com to sample their offerings.

PICASA lets you use Roku to view your photo albums on Picasa (online photo service from Google). Opening the channel always give me a "API" error message. Picture quality is blurry. This channel is not developed by Google or Roku, but by someone named Chris Hoffman. I've tried to contact him but to no avail.

The FLICKR channel lets you view your Flickr photo albums on Roku. Sadly, if a photo is wider than 16:9, the aspect ratio of the TV screen, the photo is cropped on the left and right to fill the screen. This channel is not made by Yahoo (which owns Flickr), but by Chris Hoffman, also.

The COUCHY TV channel is also developed by Mr. Hoffman, and sadly, it has a problem too. This channel lets you view Dropbox photo and stream Dropbox video on your Roku. But for some reason, photos are shown at a much reduced size, and there is no way to enlarge. Video streaming is quite good, however. Mr. Hoffman, where are you?

REVISION3 is a free online video website and Roku channel that offers many independent web programs on technology and entertainment, such as "Tekzilla" and "HD Nation". The program content is excellent, but unfortunately, the Roku channel is poorly designed. It doesn't remember the show you have watched, and you always have to scroll through a long list of shows to see what you want.

So, in short, to use the Roku:

(1) It helps that you are technologically inclined.
(2) Expect mostly on-demand content and not a lot of live TV content, and thus Roku doesn't necessarily replace cable TV or antenna TV.
(3) Expect to sign up for a lot of services, and pay for some.
(4) Expect some Roku channels to be better designed and/or more functional than others.
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796 of 893 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Unit is good, remote is too finicky, April 5, 2013
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This review is from: Roku 3 Streaming Media Player (Electronics)
OK, I am a certified Roku fan, prefer it to Apple, and mind you, between 2010 and now, I've bought 8 (eight) Rokus from amazon, and 1 from Roku directly, making it a total of 9. Yes, 4 of them were as gifts for friends. I've got the whole series, Roku HD, Roku XS, XDS, etc., and a unit each in three rooms. I am disclosing this just to make my point, my disappointment.
Until now, never had any problem with the others, they all worked well in the three different dwellings in different locations I lived in, easily connected to my home network.
I bought this latest unit because of the built-in ear-plug port, Which did not disappoint me, it works just fine. Super idea.
My problem is the remote's finicky connectivity. The unit, as had the other units, worked well right out of the box, connected like a breeze, and no problems for the first two weeks. And then the remote lost touch with the base. OK, I disconnected HDMI and power cables for a few minutes, re-connected, still cannot get the base unit to embrace :-) the remote. Checked the network, it's fine, so Internet is not problem. Live chat took too long to respond, I tried using my other remotes. 2 XS remote not compatible, but XD connected OK.
Next day I tried live chat on their site again, spent about 20 mins waiting, nice person came on, worked with me, taught me that I had not pressed the small connection button in the remote long enough, the button is accessible when you remove the battery house cover, and it's a small button, not easy to press it correctly with fingertip, need a longer nail or a pencil, anyhow, advice worked and reconnected with the base. No explanation why we lost connection though.
But so far so good.
One more week passes and we lose connection again. This time it takes way too many attempts within 48 hours to get the base and the unit to reconnect. Thank God for the older remote!
This time I did not even try to contact tech support. Felt so frustrated that I wanted to return the whole kit and kaboodle. Alas, yesterday was 1 month since I bought this from amazon, and i might be too late to return it.
On the other hand, I do like that it has the head phone port in the remote, you can listen to your movie without bothering anyone else, in my case, a terminally ill hubby who needs his snooze.
But there are other gadgets that you can buy if headphones are what you want.
In my opinion, this latest Roku needed more work before it was thrown out into the market.
My saving grace is that out of all the previous Rokus I bought, one of the remotes is compatible, but then again, as I said, using the older remote beats the purpose of having bought this one. Older remote does not have the earphone port...
So I rate it a 3 because of its finicky remote unit.
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642 of 736 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars AWESOME Product! GREAT new Features!, March 6, 2013
By 
T.S. (California) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Roku 3 Streaming Media Player (Electronics)
The Roku 3 is an awesome upgrade from my previous Roku 2. (and from my previous Apple TV)

First of all, it is very easy and quick to set up.

The Roku 3's user interface is just awesome, and much snappier than the pervious one.

It's much easier to navigate the channels with the new user interface. They also added a centralized search where you can search for titles or actors across all channels and they then show which channels offer that content.
This is really an AWESOME and very useful feature!

Besides the improved UI, I really love the new remote control, which contains a head-set jack and volume controls.

When you plug-in a head-set, the audio on the Roku's HDMI interface is automatically muted, and re-routed to the head-sets. This is awesome when watching movies at night when your loved-ones are asleep, and might be equally useful when you ask your kids to use the head-set, so you don't have to listen to Dora the Explorer all day long..

I should add that the audio-quality on the headsets is truly HiFi - it blew me away!

Roku offers TONS of channels on the Roku! No comparison to the very limited number of channels on the Apple TV.
I think Roku says they have +700 channels now.

Some of my favourite channels are:
- Amazon (some movies included with Amazon Prime!!)
- Vudu (amazing video quality!)
- Netflix (their selection really gets worse every day)
- Hulu
- TimeWarner channel
- HBO Go
- Disney
- Smithsonian Channel
- great music channels, like: Pandora Radio, Amazon Cloud Player, SomaFM, ...
- tons of science & tech channels, like: TED Talks, CNet, NASA, ...
- tons of food channels
- tons of domestic and international news channel, like CNN, BBC, Al Jazeera, Euronews, Tagesschau, Deutsche Welle, and many more!
- lots of international channels
- many more..

Do a web-search to find the complete list of all available Roku private channels, and check out the VideoBuzz channel!

One almost hidden feature of the Roku3 is that it has a USB3 port on the side -- that means that you can plug in a USB-flash drive or a USB disk, and play content you own from there! USB Media Formats: Video: MP4 (H.264), MKV (H.264) Audio: AAC, MP3, Image: JPG, PNG.

One small thing to look out: make sure to switch your video to 1080p in the settings menu, it starts with 720p resolution.

My home-theater setup consists of an Optoma 1080p projector, with the Roku3 connected to it, and a 133" screen.
The video quality is just amazing!! I lOVE my new Roku 3!

Compared to the Roku2, there is no audio-out jack on the back of the Roku3 - this was not a big issue for me, because I have an inexpensive HDMI Switcher which provides audio-out: http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B003L14WB8/

Last not least: how does the Roku3's price of $99 stack up against the competition? With the Roku3 you get more channel choices than what you get with the Apple TV.
If you compare it to "smart" TVs, like Samsung and others, these manufacturers charge exorbitant amounts for their "smart" TV features, compared to their regular TV models -- you'd pay several hundred dollars more, and you would end up with less -- and you'd be waving your hands at your TV.
So if you compare the Roku3 to "smart" TVs, the Roku3 is an obvious choice because of it's low cost, more channels, and the much sleeker user interface.

All in all, I think this product is a BIG step up from the previous Roku 2 and far ahead of the Apple TV, which I have not used since I switched to Roku.
If you own an Apple TV, or already own a pervious Roku model, I'd definitely recommend to upgrade to the Roku 3!
If you are in the market for a new TV, then go for the non-smart version, and add a Roku3!

You won't regret it! It's awesome!

P.S.:

It puzzles me that some people have left bad reviews for the Roku3. Some comments where related to streaming quality, which sounds more like they have only a very basic internet connection. If you want to stream HDTV video over the internet, make sure that you have an adequate / high-end internet connection (don't try to save money on that). Another comment was the 90-day warranty. Sure, that's true, but I don't think it's an issue given that the Roku3 does not contain any moving parts -- chances of it breaking are very very very slim. I had my previous Roku for years and it still works like a charm.
last not least, one comment was that you have to provide a credit card to connect to the Roku channel store. That's just the same with a lot of other services, and devices, e.g. the Apple TV. It's really no surprise, as there are some Roku channels which can be purchased. Does any of that make the Roku3 a bad device? Absolutely no! It is the best device in it's class, and I find it just awesome to use.
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225 of 258 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars I love it!, March 24, 2013
By 
Texas Beau (Austin, Texas USA) - See all my reviews
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
This review is from: Roku 3 Streaming Media Player (Electronics)
I am disabled, home bound and live on a small fixed income retirement. I bought the Roku3 so I would have at least some level of entertainment in my home -- without having to pay the outrageous prices for cable or undependable satellite TV services which include dozens and dozens of obscure channels I would never watch. With the Roku3, plus Amazon Prime and Netflix streaming, I now have tens of thousands of movies and TV shows to watch for about $14.50 per month. The device (the Roku3) is amazing! I bought this particular model of the Roku devices because I can hard wire it to my router (I think that is a bit faster than a wireless connection) and so I would have the quick-replay feature on the remote. I know it sounds corny, but considering my circumstances, the Roku3 has enriched my life beyond my expectations. I highly recommend it.
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110 of 127 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars I have 3 Roku's, June 15, 2013
This review is from: Roku 3 Streaming Media Player (Electronics)
I think some that are complaining about channel selection being worthless are unsure how to make the most out of your Roku.

Not only do you have Netflix, Hulu Plus and Vudu for movie rentals...but Roku is DLNA. Which means if you install a media server on your computer it will stream it to the Roku. The Plex app is on Roku and is free, however Playon is a great choice. I actually run both at once. Playon is a yearly fee. When they have a sale like now it is only 24.99 a year, or you can get a lifetime licence for 49.99 and never pay again. Which any way you look at it is far cheaper than cable. They also have a Playlater service which records shows for you so you can watch later. There are many plugins that come with it... ABC, NBC, CBS, History, Discovery, Spike, Lifetime, CW, MTV, VH1, Animal Planet, Fox, etc practically all the cable networks are there that post their shows episodes online for public viewing which Playon makes available. If you don't pay for Hulu Plus you can still watch free Hulu through Playon as well.

Many don't know about it so thought I would let you all know there is alot you can do with Roku outside of Roku channels.:)
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107 of 125 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Apple fan impressed!, March 20, 2013
By 
anzicco (New England) - See all my reviews
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
This review is from: Roku 3 Streaming Media Player (Electronics)
As a 20+ year convert to mainly all things Apple, I decided to check out the ROKU 3. The main reason was to have an easier solution to getting Amazon Prime Videos on my TV than just airplay through my Mac.

Since installing the ROKU 3 about a week ago, I have been quite impressed at its speed, quality of picture, and variety of free apps. I have been using it almost exclusively.
I actually like the interface on the ROKU 3 better than the latest version of Apple TV. I like the ability to search a movie or actor and have the Roku main menu give me all of the choices from Free to Paid for viewing that movie.

The biggest improvement I would make is having a main "watch list" on the main ROKU channel screen that would allow me to save videos I would like to watch without having to go into each individual channel's watch list.
The remote, while not as terrible as some have described, is a bit clunky....but there is a FREE Roku APP for iOS that allows you to control your ROKU 3 with your iPhone, iPad or ipod Touch!

One channel I recommend highly is PLEX, which is free and works with a program for your Mac called PLEX Media Server to organize and stream (like Airplay) all of your media files. The interface is quite nice and I have not encountered any sluggishness in streaming performance (which I have encountered with Apple TV(3) )

The sheen of the Apple may be waning, as I am now convinced that there are others (Roku, Samsung Galaxy S4, amazon) that are becoming more innovative and daring in their approach to what Apple started. I have used my Apple TV maybe once or twice a month, but the ROKU 3 is fun and keeps me entertained on a daily basis.

Highly Recommended!
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83 of 96 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Top Notch Product, March 11, 2013
By 
David E. (San Mateo, CA) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Roku 3 Streaming Media Player (Electronics)
I like to review my products fully. Package to Play.

PACKAGING: Let's start of with the packaging. Great design, easily deconstructed for easy assembly. I didn't have to use scissors or cut myself on sharp plastic, HOORAY! Sweet. The only improvement on packaging is that I almost threw away the headphones. They were hidden in a side compartment, but honestly, I am like a kid in a candy store, so I was ripping through the package like a crack head trying to find his keys so he can go to the moon. Anyways...

SETUP: The instructions were easy. It's a simple plug in, put the batteries in the remote, and put in my WIFI password. If you have trouble at this point, I would probably never attempt LEGOS or IKEA furniture. Like...ever. The cute little dancing ROKU at start-up was a plus. The actual start-up was a breeze as well. I had all my username and passwords handy for my life staples: HULU+, Netflix, Amazon Prime. I am not a cable user (who wants to pay for 100 channels when you only use a few) so I don't have the full capabilities and functions of whole Roku3, but it has everything I need, plus a few bonuses I didn't know about, Disney for my nieces and nephews, some free news channels (if the need to be depressed arises), and Sci-Fi (nerd squeal, snort)!

SIDENOTE: Some of the applications have simplified data entry (.com input, etc), I assume this is because of how the application wants you to sign up (and not Roku), but they should all get on board with a simplified keyboard for smoother setup.

REMOTE: Great. I love having a remote for this. Its no different than having a Wii Remote or a PS3 controller. Wireless and all that jazz. Even has a safety strap for those who walk around all day with chicken grease all over their hands. The big plus is the headphones that come with it. I tested those out as well. The controller automatically mutes the TV and puts the sound through the ear buds. Neat. Great for when the Mr. or Mrs. wants to sleep, you don't want to wake the kids, or you have one of those crappy old neighbors with supersonic hearing and even complains when you tip toe after 10pm. A couple of improvements could be made here however. First, as a Visual Communications Specialist, please refrain from super shiny material in remote construction. It's a cleaning nightmare (a shout-out to those of us with OCD) and makes the plastic look super cheap. Secondly, a simple programming change so you can use the remote sideways for easier data entry.

PLAY: I have to say (not sure how this is possible), but the high definition looks better than my PS3? Either way, smooth playback, great experience, no complaints there. I have had it for almost a week now, and no hiccups what so ever. Another great function is that Roku never turns off (if you are weird about power, just unplug it, but it only takes the power of a nightlight, so cool your jets). I just turn my TV back on, and all my stuff is ready to go, no logging in, no waiting for booting.

OVERALL: Amazing product. If you are not wanting to buy this product because you already own a streaming device (PS3, Wii, etc), you are missing out on a a ton of extras and perks not available on those systems. My PS3 has now just become where I watch old DVDs (soon to go the way of the dinosaur) and video games.

For me, it's a must have! Plus, if you want to be cool like me, you should go buy it. Dude...like now. :)
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Roku 3 Streaming Media Player
$99.99 $94.64
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