928 of 953 people found the following review helpful
First let me say I own a Roku and LOVE it! NetFlix and Roku are a marriage made in heaven as far as I'm concerned, and they are saving me tons of money and treks to the video store. The picture, ease of use, wireless capabilities, quality of video content... everything is great!
But as a consumer it's important to understand the differences between the 3 Roku offerings so you can make an informed decision on your purchase. It does seem odd that Roku has simply not put out one device at one price for everyone with all the bells and whistles, but for now, you have to choose one... based upon your needs and budget.
THE DIFFERENCES IN ROKU PLAYERS:
Roku HD Player is capable of wired or wireless hook-up, but not at the fastest speed available from a 'N' wireless network. HD content streams to this device flawlessly (if the content is available and your home network is sending a proper signal), despite not being 'N' network ready.
That being said, Roku came out with Roku HD-XR Player which WILL stream the fastest 'N' network standard, provided the rest of your home network is also working with the same standard. That being said, this device is not at all necessary if you don't have all the devices on your home network using the 'N' standard, because the speed will only go as fast as the device with the slowest connection which is probably the 'B or G' standard.
The third device is available on Roku's website. Roku SD, which streams in standard definition, will not stream HD content, isn't capable of surround sound audio like the other two and does not have a HDMI connection. It only supports the red/yellow/white (composite video and audio) connections, but it will connect wirelessly or can be hardwired to the internet, working on a 'B or G' network. The Roku SD is about twenty bucks less than the Roku HD and , so again, consider your needs before buying. **Anyone with a standard def TV and who doesn't plan to upgrade to an HDTV with HDMI ports any time soon, would probably want this version.
The Roku HD-XR Player is a jump up from the HD model in wireless capabilities. All the Roku offerings will give you years of enjoyment by boosting your NetFlix subscription, streaming Amazon On Demand media and boosting your viewing library. What the HD-XR has that the others don't: 'N' network capabilities and 1 USB port for firmware upgrades and possibly, other media hook-ups via USB, but at this time Roku doesn't even bring up the USB on their website so I tend to wonder about this being a selling point. Is it worth the extra cost? Only you know the answer to that question.
The quality of the streaming video on my 'G' network is perfect; standard and HD content, via my Roku HD, but since I don't have a 'N' network, nor do I expect I will in the near future, I saved myself a bit of money and didn't buy this one.
The only reason I give this product 4 versus 5 stars is because of the price bump for the ability to use an 'N' wireless network when frankly I believe it should be considered a standard feature, not an extra. The USB port, whatever it's used for, should also be standard on all models. Again, it would be wonderful to have one Roku with all the potential connections and wireless ability, and perhaps in the future there will be, but for now you need to consider these three: Roku SD, Roku HD and Roku HD-XR.
To may your own informed choice, evaluate your needs and buy accordingly. While the Roku products are not media storage devices or DVR's, they can give you a tremendous boost in your enjoyment of NetFlix and expand your viewing library.
ROKU HD-XR PLAYER SPECIFICATIONS (per the Roku website):
*Note the USB port isn't even listed as a feature.
Wi-Fi (802.11N/B/G "dual-band") with WEP, WPA, and WPA2 support
10/100 Ethernet (RJ-45)
Composite video (480i)
Component video (Y/Pb/Pr - 720p/480p)
16:9 High Definition (HD)
Stereo (L/R RCA)
Digital Optical (Toslink - Stereo/Surround)
Digital over HDMI (Stereo/Surround)
NEC protocol, supported by various universal remotes
5V, 2.5A provided by included AC adapter
6 watts peak, 4 watts in standby
5 x 5 x 1.75 inches (130 x 130 x 41 mm)
11 oz (300 grams)
After using this item almost daily for over a year (even got a second one for a bedroom unit) I'm still convinced Roku's are fantastic devices for almost any home. We still have cable, but it's not piped to my daughter's room (the location of the second unit) and she doesn't mind a bit. With the upcoming addition of Hulu streaming to the Roku... the selection just keeps growing! A fantastic deal for $9 a month Netflix subscription.
As for missing the 'N-wireless'... I still don't. Could be because I've not upgraded my home network, but truly the speed of the uploads with this one are sufficient for my needs and my home network is stable and provides excellent picture quality with my set-up. I would say that if I buy a new one in the future, the recently upgraded units are the way to go though. Unless they significantly drop the price in this one. The newer ones have 1080p ability and the 'n-networking' as a standard. If you're going to pay the same amount for this one versus that one... it's a no-brainer to choose the upgrade.
The differences in the 'upgraded' offerings...
Doesn't play 1080p...nor does it support 'n' or any other bumps in perks. It does however have wireless capabilities and is the cheapest of the offerings. Roku HD Streaming Player.
Does play 1080p full HD video **(assuming the Netfix offering CAN stream in full HD - not all the offerings are in full HD)**, have an instant replay button, have extended range wireless (b/g/n compatible), and probably offers the best deal for most consumers as the mid-range offering. Roku XD Streaming Player 1080p
Offering the most bang for your buck, this Roku has dual-band wireless N (the latest wireless standard and potentially the fastest if your home network is set up for it...), extended range wireless (b/g/n compatible), have an instant replay button, component video and optical outputs, and a usb port for playing music, videos and photos. Your Roku must be upgraded (available in 11/10) via software upgrade - done wirelessly by the Roku - to make this function work.
Roku XDS Streaming Player 1080p
Overall, my impression of the Roku is unchanged. It's a great device that just keeps getting better. I love it and will continue to be a loyal Roku and Netflix customer for years to come.
The Roku HD that I purchased 14 months ago stopped locating my wireless network. Attempts to reset to factory settings, reboot, etc... didn't work so I checked the Roku.com site for support. The first call to support yeilded surprising results. The tech said they would be sending me a FREE replacement to my Roku. I informed her it was no longer under warranty, but this didn't matter, which totally floored me! I was told that all I needed to do was fax the proof of purchase (a copy of my invoice from Amazon) and call them back to let them know I'd sent it. I did this and the second support tech confirmed that they'd received the fax and would be sending me a new unit (not sure which one yet) and a pre-paid box to return the defective one.
I'm stunned by this, as my Roku is two months off of warranty. I was going to purchase a new Roku (as my current unit is not the current model sold by the company), however now I'm hoping to be back on track within 3 to 5 business days, and loving this product and company all the more!
16 of 17 people found the following review helpful
on November 18, 2009
Initially I had purchased the only player roku made....so i thought after doing some research on the roku online I noticed the company had come out with a total of 3 players (roku sd, roku hd, roku hd-xr) once I found out that the roku hd-xr comes with wireless N tech I said thats the one I want and returned the original purchase and am glad I did. Roku HD model is only wireless G and older compatable. N is so much better. Setup was a breeze and the interface is so easy a caveman can do it. I have a netflix account and was excited about starting to stream and watch movies on the television untill I relized by browsing Netflix's watch instatnly section how little content netflix has for streaming.....bummer, but if your into movies late 80's and older you should be good to go. the only saving grace on the movie option is that it also has amazons movies on demand which has just about any movie/show you can think of for about a price of free to 5.99 depending on title to rent. Also roku is supposed to be coming out with a roku channel soon (please link to HULU and Youtube atleast!!). The quality of the streaming especially in HD is great (720p) and standard def is about DVD quality or just a little less. I think roku recomends about 5Mbps download speed at minimum for reliable streaming so a broadband connection should be used or else you will get dropped frames and stuttering. So far a months worth of use and no issues to date! The reason why this diddnt get 5 stars is the USB connection on the back of the device does nothing....At least not yet. Roku says its undertermined what its use will be as of now but I assume it will eventually allow u to hook up an external hard drive and play movies or pictures that u allready have. Great product. Thanks Roku....
9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
on January 3, 2010
I found all the reviews praising Roku's ease of set-up and its operational reliability to be accurate. I first purchased a new modem (Motorola SB6120 SURFboard) and router (D-Link DIR-655 Extreme N) to ensure my home wireless system would support the HD-XR. I have cable service from Comcast and these components are compatible with both Comcast and the Roku. I stream HD movies wirelessly with no problems.
I want to be careful to provide a review of the Roku and not necessarily Netflix or Amazon, but they are closely connected. As a piece of hardware, the Roku has Apple-like elegance and simplicity. It performs flawlessly and is easy to use.
It's the content that merits a less than five star review.
I was motivated, in part, to expand my content options beyond what was available to me from Comcast. The descriptions of the abundant content available through Roku appealed to me, but I confess to being slightly disappointed. First of all, with Netflix, you get a great bargain with a standard membership because you can have unlimited streaming movies included with your monthly fee. The problem is that the number of movie titles available for immediate streaming is considerably limited. Don't expect new releases or even recent box office hits to be available for streaming through Roku. Check the Netflix website and evaluate for yourself what is available via DVD-through-the-mail versus what they offer "instantly" through Roku.
Amazon's content offerings are considerably greater, but are ala carte - meaning you pay for each movie or TV show (as opposed to the flat monthly fee with Netflix). Again, it's a good idea to evaluate the selection and prices to determine if they will work for you before committing to the Roku.
After using the system for a few weeks, I can say that our household does indeed have access to much more content than we did with cable alone. However, I can't say that we have access to more of what we really wanted, which would be newer movies. The "new releases" section of Amazon's video on demand looks remarkably like Comcast's "on demand" menu, and the only way to get (most) new releases from Netflix is to order the DVD through the mail. We've found some gems in the indie, foreign and documentary corners of the library, but in some regards it's a little reminiscent of another 50 channels of cable.
Still, Roku offers what appears to be an increasing selection of web-based content, like Pandora, Flikr, and web TV. Presumably the content selections will improve.
I can testify the system works great, but advise that a cursory review of available content may be in order to avoid disappointment.
6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
on May 13, 2010
I read the reviews before purchasing this product. I decided to purchase it from Amazon because of their fabulous return policy and because of the terrible things I'd heard about returning Rokus to Roku directly. I received this product and setup was not as easy as they claim it to be. It refused to connect wirelessly to my G router. Password was fine, but the Roku demanded that I change a MAC address in my router. My pre-senile 42 year old brian had a little bit of knowledge of what the heck a MAC address was, so I went in and changed it. After I did this, I had success. I am considered tech-savvy in my family, which is a stretch, butI idly wondered how technophobes are supposed to figure this out on their own. I also wondered though why I was only getting 3 or 4 dots quality and not HD when my router was but 6 feet away from the Roku. SO...I went on a field trip to my local electronics supply store for an ethernet cable. After I directly wired the cable to the Roku, I got four dots quality every time with HD when available. SO...my recommendation to folks is to skip the wireless setup if you can and wire it directly to the router, which is antithetical to the purpose of the Roku...to connect wirelessly. I am giving this product four stars out of five. The loss of one star is due to the more difficult setup and need to wire it directly to my router. I can say nothing but good about the performance after my setup. It is so easy to navigate around and to use. Setup of the channels on the roku was nothing but simple. This product, aside from setup problems, comes highly recommended from my family to yours.
7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
on November 28, 2009
I have been using this device for about two weeks, long enough to figure out what I like and don't about it.
First off, like most other reviews have pointed out, set up is extremely easy. Just like hooking up a dvd player or vcr. I used an S Video cable for the video and the regular rca cables that came with it for the audio. I don't know how much the HDMI cable would benefit the overall quality, probably not enough to be worth the extra money. Linking it up with my Netflix account was fast and simple. They provide a code within a few minutes.
I am working it through my N wireless D-Link network. I have the router in the upstairs office and the device is downstairs in my living room. I was pleased with how quickly the Roku found the network and the signal strength. The only interruption that I've had was when also using my Vonage phone and being on-line with one of the computers at the same time. Otherwise, movies upload in a few seconds and the quality is decent. However, the ones that claim to be coming in HD are more like basic cable quality. The ones not in HD even less so.
A few of the quirks:
1. It would be nice to access the Netflix menu directly through the Roku device. Instead you have to place the selections in your instant queue on Netflix's site. And the new selections do not immediately appear on the Roku upload list. Some have taken a day to update.
2. FF and REW are a bit awkward. Unlike a dvd with a scene menu the device only gives the option to scroll through like a vcr, albeit at 3 different speeds. Makes it hard to go to specific scenes, or songs if watching a concert.
But overall, this is a great device. The quality and functionality should continue to improve over time. Even though the instant library pales in comparison to the rental library, there are still hundreds of good choices and Netflix promises to keep expanding it. It greatly enhances a regular Netflix account which allows for unlimited instant downloads (which starts at the $8.99/month level).
I have not yet accessed the Amazon or MLB network but plan to once baseball season starts up again.
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
on January 4, 2010
I am not going to touch upon each and every feature, but will discuss what my impressions are:
1. I have Apple TV as well. Quality of HD movie on Apple TV for sure is way better than this one, but you don't have to spend $5 every time you watch a movie. I was also able to catch up on a lot of Indian movies streamed through Netflix all for just $8.99 a month. I have my blockbuster subscription as well to pick up blu ray movies to watch from store when I wish.
2. I set this thing to run by hardwired ethernet connection. In my mind picture quality is very good when I do that.
3. I cannot understand why they did not enable youtube support on this. That is a really bad one to miss. Hope they release that as a channel in future.
4. It also lacks any media streaming capabilities.
5. Amazon is awesome and they have given my $30 credit to watch or buy movies from Amazon VOD. I will use that for sure.
This is a nice device which can be great with added features like Youtube ( I don't care as Apple TV does this for me).
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
on January 19, 2010
It took me many hours of research to determine if I should get a wireless bluray player or the roku. I wasn't sure if I should get the LG bd390 or the sony wireless blu ray. Then I read about the Roku. The roku hit the spot. I wanted something to access my netflix account via wireless and from reading the reviews, I ended up getting the Roku HD.
Now I can choose to get the Oppo bluray player or the pioneer elite blu ray player if I want better video quality. My wireless netflix requirement has been fulfilled.
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
on July 16, 2010
I purchased the Roku HD-XR for the Netflix function, wireless and to access the movies I have on my NAS box on my home network. Setup was easy and painless. I was browsing Netflix in 10 minutes. Browsing my NAS was something else entirely. While there are 3rd party apps for connecting to your home network, of the 2 that I tried, Chaneru seemed the most promising. Also the tech support at Chaneru was great in helping me with some errors that I was getting. After getting Chaneru to almost work, I was reading some more about the Roku and discovered that the Roku doesn't play avi files, which the movies on my NAS are. The other was called My Media and it involved installing python which was more involved than I wanted to get. So I returned it and purchased the WD TV Live Plus, review to follow on the WD TV Live Plus page.
Bottom line, if you don't need to play avi files, the Roku is a great little device. It's wireless, at least the HD-XR, has connections out the wazoo and has a small foot print. The "flaw" was that I didn't investigate the file types the Roku would play.
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on August 24, 2010
I bought this for its Netflix "Watch Instantly" feature, and for that, it can't be beat. Of course, if you already have that feature through your television, your blu-ray, or your receiver, you may not need it all over again. Yet. But this box (like Pandora's box) comes with hope....
The gizmo was up and running in about five minutes, and the streaming works well on a wireless-n network (assuming you have the appropriate broadband speed). Video and audio quality are as good as the provider (can't knock Roku for this--they can only deliver what they get from Netflix, Amazon, etc.), and you have every option imaginable to connect to the rest of your home theater (hdmi, component, s-video, composite--even toslink for digital audio).
I also registered my Amazon "channel," so I can rent things through there, and set up my news (includes streaming from big networks and podcasts from others), music (local radio and Pandora (see? this box comes with Pandora)), and cartoon channels. They each took a couple minutes to register. And other than the "gee-whiz" factor of having them at all, I didn't see any compelling reason to buy the Roku just for them. Still, that isn't Roku's issue--they can only deliver etc. etc. etc.
But the potential! If only Hulu (or individual cable channels) would see fit to make their content available through the box. This could be the iPad (or Pandora's box) of set-top boxes with apps apps apps everywhere. It is the promise of what it could be that is almost as impressive as what it is: an inexpensive way to entertain yourself and reduce your reliance on cable.
But for now, that one trick is enough to justify the purchase.
There are two other versions of the Roku device. If you need hd video or digital sound, you will want this one or the hd box. And if you want to use it on a wireless-n network, you will want this one (the hd is wireless-g). And if you want to dream of the potential represented in that as-yet unused usb port on back, this is the one for you, too.
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on August 13, 2010
If you like movies more than you like TV series and news (and you can always get over the air TV for that...), Roku is for you.
It is extremely easy to use: add "channels" from a list (some might require paid subscription), navigate to it, select the program you want and this is it! You will end up watching more TV than you thought you should, so many choices you now have.
Installing is very easy and should take less than 5 minutes (from opening the box to watching the first program).
Usage is also easy. Probably easier than regular TV: select the "channel", select the program, watch it.
- Use HDMI cable: less connections, more quality. And you can find one here at Amazon for less than US$ 10.
- Use wired network: wireless works very well, but if you require a password to access it (and you absolutely MUST), it will be displayed in the settings, which might be a security risk, especially if you have to enter it in front of a guest. Also, sometimes, after a power failure, you have to reconfigure the wireless.
- Subscribe to Netflix and use their "instant queue". Not expensive and you will have access to more movies that you can watch. It takes them a while to convert newly released DVDs to the instant queue, though.
- If you like baseball or basketball, subscribe to the respective channel. It is expensive, but you can watch almost all games (local games and some special times, like Sunday night baseball are blacked out) live.
In my opinion, the pros far outweigh the cons. Here are some of them:
- Very easy to use. You almost don't notice it is there. As easy as DVD without having to put the disk in.
- Very small footprint. Fits anywhere and it is very discreet.
- Very good sound and video quality. At least as good as DVD.
- Only 720p. When you get used to 1080p, you will notice the difference. But, for a while, except for games and Blu-ray disks, almost all programs, including cable/dish TV are 720p and 1080i.
- Cannot see movie in FF or REW. If you have a DVR or DVD, you are used to seeing the scenes while you try to quickly advance or return to a point in the movie. Roku will only show small boxes with a picture for scenes 7 seconds apart.
- Pause won't show the entire picture. Not a chance of seeing that beautiful scene or bad mistake in a movie. The dreaded small box is there again, with the chain of other boxes (see previous).
- No frame by frame advance or return. See previous.
- No way to organize your channels. You will end up having your favorite channels but they are mixed up with other you like enough to keep (or doesn't dislike enough to delete). It would be nice to be able to change the order the channels are displayed and even better to be able to group them (in "favorites", "sports", "movies", etc).