Customer Review

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4.0 out of 5 stars Review for the Roku LT Streaming Media Player, November 10, 2011
This review is from: Roku LT Streaming Player (Old Version) (Electronics)
This is a review of the newest addition to the Roku streaming media player line-up, the Roku LT, of which I was given a unit to test and evaluate by Roku. I am the owner of several versions of Roku players, so I have plenty of experience using these wonderful devices. Included in my stable of Roku players is the original "PICO" player, of which I purchased one of the first two thousand units sold in the US. I also own a 2nd generation XD|S player, as well as a 3rd generation Roku2 XS, the top-of-the-line unit at the time of this writing. I have been very happy with each new Roku player and am happy to have been asked to review the latest addition to their lineup.

The Roku2 players are very compact, being about the size and shape of a hockey puck. The LT shares the same new housing and having such a small footprint means not having to worry about finding space for yet another home theater device. The Roku LT will fit just about anywhere. In addition, they use very little power, which is a good thing, as the unit remains powered on as long as the power pack is plugged in. There is no power switch on any model Roku player, so if you prefer to turn your unit off, you will need to consider using a switched outlet, such as a power strip. I use the switched power outlet on the back of my home theater amplifier. When the amp is powered down, the Roku player is also powered down.

When you open the box, you are greeted with a well packaged Roku LT player and accessories, including a remote control (2 AA batteries included), a power pack and an analog stereo mini-jack to RCA cable for connecting the unit to your TV. However, I recommend using an HDMI cable, which is supported by all versions of Roku player. Using HDMI provides the best video (720p HD on the LT), as well as surround sound. Using the RCA cable only provides standard definition video and stereo sound. You will also find the standard warranty information (90 days) and warning information in a small pamphlet.

The Roku LT is the most basic unit offered by Roku, so many of the bells and whistles found on other Roku players are not available on the LT. For instance, the LT only supports wireless connection to your home network, it has no Ethernet port. You won't find a USB port on the LT, either, so you cannot view images or listen to MP3s on this unit like you can some of the other models. For details on which Roku units provide which options, interested readers should visit the Roku website.

Setting up the Roku LT is very easy, with step-by-step instructions provided on-screen, as well as a comprehensive instruction booklet that also includes troubleshooting and contact information, in the event that you experience any problems. Simply connect the unit to your TV using the provided RCA cable or an HDMI cable, and plug in the power pack. The Roku LT takes about a minute to boot up, at which time you will be presented with the first configuration screen. The first thing you have to do is connect to your home network via wireless Internet. Once connected to your wireless network, you will be prompted to register the unit to your Roku account. If you don't have a Roku account yet, you will need to go to the Roku website and create a new account. Once you have a Roku account and you register the unit, you will be prompted to upgrade the unit's software before you can begin using it. This only takes a few minutes, depending on available bandwidth, after which the Roku LT will automatically reboot.

Once the unit reboots, you should be presented with the start menu, which includes a settings icon (more on this later), the Channel Store icon and an icon for the current highlight channel. You use the remote control to move around the menus. The remote has a large purple D-pad, similar to a game pad, with an OK button in the center which you use to select whatever is highlighted on the screen. There is a Home button which returns you to the main menu from any channel. There is also a left-arrow key that will return you to the previous screen. Finally, there are Play/Pause, FFW and RWD buttons, and an Option button.

One of the best things about streaming movies or other video content is the ability to choose what you want to watch and when, as well as to pause, FFW or RWD that content. The Roku remote for the LT is well made and works using IR. You can use more than one remote with the same Roku player and Roku offers remote controls for sale separately on their website, for those who would like to have more than one.

The Channel Store is equivalent to the Android Market or the app store for Apple products. It includes channels that stream movies and TV shows, such as Netflix, Crackle, Amazon and Hulu Plus. There are also games, news and sports channels, along with specialty channels for things like Anime, comic books, cooking, even a NASA channel. Some of these are free, just add the channel to your player and it will appear on the main menu, or you can immediately go to the selected channel and start viewing content. For channels that require a subscription fee, you will be given a code that has to be entered on the Roku website under your account, after you have made payment arrangements. For instance, I am a Netflix subscriber, but I also use Amazon occasionally to view new release movies. The difference is that Netflix requires a monthly payment for unlimited viewing, whereas Amazon allows you to "rent" a single title for a number of hours for a minimal, one-time fee. New release movies on Amazon cost a few dollars and you can watch the title as many times as you want over a 24-48hr time period, in most cases. Netflix provides a large catalog of streaming titles, all of which can be viewed as often as you like with your paid subscription.

The settings menu provides some configuration options, including audio, video, network and time. There is also a screensaver that can help reduce the possibility of image burn-in on your TV screen. I like to set my screensaver to show the current time, date and weather conditions. The default is a bouncing "ROKU" on a black background screen. You will also find an information screen that provides information on the Roku player, such as current network settings, software version and model number. There is a Factory Reset option on the settings menu, and if this option is used, the unit will be reset. When it reboots, it will ask you to register the unit, as if it was a brand new unit being setup for the first time. The factory reset will not revert the software version, just FYI. In the event the player locks up for any reason and you cannot get to the settings menu, there is a hard reset button on the back of the unit just above the power connector. A quick push on the button will make the unit reboot, but this is not the same as Factory Reset. Holding the reset button in for 45-60 seconds will cause the unit to Factory Reset, which is the same thing as using that option on the settings menu. This information is not included in the troubleshooting information provided in the booklet that comes with the Roku LT.

While testing the LT for this review, I was pleased to find that Roku automatically adds all the channels I am already subscribed to after registration, free or otherwise. Note that you will need to provide your account information for channels that require monetary subscriptions. As for how the player works when streaming, I can say that the LT works as well as any other Roku player. Whether you are streaming a movie, TV show or music, it provides a smooth viewing and/or listening experience. The more bandwidth you have the better, and using a newer generation router (802.11 g/n) will make for easy integration with your home entertainment system. The Roku players will work with older routers, too (802.11b).

Another nice feature is that I can take my player from one TV to another and it works without a hitch. You can even take it with you to a friend's house, on vacation, or just a different room in your home. This applies equally to all Roku media players. Of course, you will need wireless Internet access available at all times to do this with a Roku LT.

In summary, the Roku LT streaming media player is a nice entry-level unit that provides plenty of streaming options. Compared to the price of similar competing products, the LT is easily the most affordable device on the market. It may not be the most feature rich device available, but it packs plenty of entertainment value for the asking price. If you were interested in streaming media players but couldn't justify the cost until now, you will be hard pressed not to give the Roku LT a try. I hardily recommend it!
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Comments

Tracked by 11 customers

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Showing 1-10 of 75 posts in this discussion
Initial post: Nov 11, 2011 4:08:15 PM PST
The remote control on the LT I just received and set up today is IR not RF. Good thing too, since I planned to use it with one of the Harmony universal IR remote control family.

In reply to an earlier post on Nov 11, 2011 7:14:39 PM PST
Cantatta says:
Thank you for pointing this out. I have revised my review accordingly. My apologies, I am used to using the new RF remotes that come with the higher-end Roku2 XS player and assumed this one was the same. It turns out this is one of the ways Roku was able to provide the LT at such a reasonable price.

Posted on Nov 14, 2011 6:50:59 AM PST
Maggie says:
Hi,

I am new to Roku and so I am not sure how to use the HDMI cable with the Roku if my cable box has the HDMI going into it. Can you please tell me how to work around getting both the cable box and Roku on the HDMI? Is that even possible?

Thanks in advance!
Maggie

In reply to an earlier post on Nov 14, 2011 7:12:38 AM PST
You need:
Cable Box -----[HDMI]-------> TV HDMI input 1
and
ROKU -----[HDMI]-------> TV HDMI input 2

It looks like most TVs, even the cheap ones, have at least two HDMI inputs, so you should be good to go. If there's only one, then you'll need a HDMI switch. You can probably find a number of alternatives here at Amazon.

In reply to an earlier post on Nov 14, 2011 8:39:03 AM PST
Maggie says:
Thanks Steven!

Posted on Nov 14, 2011 2:11:23 PM PST
S. Lee says:
Thanks for the helpful review. Did your remote control for the LT have the new buttons (Pandora, Netflix, Crackle)? Or is that feature only available through the Roku website (which sadly does not offer free shipping)?

In reply to an earlier post on Nov 14, 2011 5:55:57 PM PST
Cantatta says:
Sorry Lee, my remote did not have the three additional buttons on it.

Posted on Nov 15, 2011 6:57:35 AM PST
Your review is very helpful in my decision. I have always wanted to try Roku. The price and your detailed review makes my options much more informed. Thank You

Posted on Nov 15, 2011 7:17:55 PM PST
Jeff J. says:
Great review! That is all ... just a great review.

Posted on Nov 16, 2011 3:47:38 PM PST
ToDrGeorge says:
The evaluation of this product was intelligently and clearly written to the point. Thank you for your review.
Dr. George
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