2,388 of 2,456 people found the following review helpful
Smart little puck, as good as (but different from) Apple TV,
This review is from: Roku 2 XS 1080p Streaming Player (Old Model) (Electronics)
UPDATED Nov 28, 2012 to reflect software changes to both Roku 2 and AppleTV.
This little player, about the size of a hockey puck, is exactly what I was looking for. It's cheap, easy, and fun. I got it to play Netflix, Amazon Prime, and Vimeo, and everything else it does is a pleasant add-on, especially motion-controlled Angry Birds. If you're in the market for a Roku 2, I think you might as well get this high-end model (there are stripped-down versions for less money) since it has a few more capabilities, including a game controller, an ethernet jack, and a USB port for playing external files. The software interface is not slick but everything fast and responsive. I added a star because this unit has proven itself much more stable than it was at launch, due to frequent software updates. The HBO Go app is particularly useful, which allows you to stream from HBO on demand from a huge catalog of movies and TV shows if you have a cable subscription with HBO included.
How is the Roku 2 different from the Apple TV (which it resembles, and I also considered)? It's physically similar and has some overlapping features, but here are the main differences as I see them:
BOTH have Netflix Streaming, Hulu+, Vimeo, and sports channels such as NBA and MLB (subscription required for the sports stuff). Both have wired and wireless network capabilities. Both are tiny, power-sipping, unobtrusive little devices that could probably be embedded in TV hardware.
AppleTV (not the Roku 2!) has tight iTunes integration, including iTunes movie rentals, streaming from a local PC/Mac with iTunes installed, and YouTube. Nearly all Apple iTunes video content can be streamed via Apple's iCloud if you don't want to use a local computer as a media source. If you subscribe to iTunes Match, you can stream your music in this way as well. Apple's proprietary AirPlay feature allows you to stream audio or mirror audio and video to the box from your iOS device. It works well and adds to the usability of this device if you have an iPhone/iPad/iPod Touch. At this time, you can only use the "apps" that are included with the box. The AppleTV remote is made of attractive aluminum but relies on line-of-sight infrared signals. You can use an iPhone/iPad/iPod Touch as a remote as well. AppleTV requires an HDTV to work and displays up to 1080p resolutions. AppleTV has a YouTube app. It also has Netflix and Hulu+ apps on par with Roku's.
Roku 2 (the product being reviewed! not AppleTV!) has a "channel" installer which you can easily manage via a web app on your computer. This system is a bit less polished, but a lot more open than the AppleTV system. Roku Channel choices include Amazon Prime videos, Amazon rentals, Vimeo, Hulu Plus, Pandora Radio, Plex Media Center, and bunch of streaming news and movie services. The Wii-like game remote comes with Angry Birds and several 2D casual games are available in their Channel Store. Development of new channels seems to have slowed down lately, but there are some fun options here. There's a MicroSD card slot on the top end model for storing more channels, as well as a USB slot for playing your own media. The game controller has built-in accelerometers and game-friendly buttons, and it works well for this game. This layout would be ideal for Super Nintendo style games, too. I like how it doesn't require an IR receiver like the Wii remote does. The tiny Roku 2 box has an IR receiver so you can use a universal remote with it, but the included remote uses RF signals and doesn't need line-of-sight to the box. Roku 2 XS can run on pretty much any TV (it includes composite cables) and can display up to 1080p resolutions. There's also an iOS app if you want to use a mobile device as a remote.
As you can see, these two machines are similar, but not the same. I originally chose this machine because it worked with an old SDTV, could play Amazon Prime videos (lots of kids programming on there, thanks Amazon), and offers a nice, standalone alternative to the Apple ecosystem. Since that purchase, I've added an AppleTV for the iOS-specific features, including AirPlay, iTunes Match, and YouTube.
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Showing 71-80 of 117 posts in this discussion
In reply to an earlier post on Sep 7, 2012 9:37:14 AM PDT
Does your receiver have a video input?
In reply to an earlier post on Sep 7, 2012 4:47:00 PM PDT
There's your answer then. Roku goes to your amp via HDMI. Amp feeds video to the TV and audio to your fancy speakers. Switch between inputs on the amp and you're done.
In reply to an earlier post on Sep 7, 2012 4:56:47 PM PDT
Thank you so much Jon. I really appreciate your help. Quick IT help. Thanks a million.
In reply to an earlier post on Sep 9, 2012 10:09:05 PM PDT
Book buyer says:
Which has exactly nothing to do with his points about AirPlay, streaming from a Mac or PC, or from an iOS device, or the Apple remote. Pay attention next time before commenting about things you don't understand.
In reply to an earlier post on Sep 10, 2012 4:32:55 AM PDT
I'm sorry, are you referring to me? I'm in this forum because I don't know anything..
In reply to an earlier post on Sep 10, 2012 4:47:18 AM PDT
He's referring to an older, anti-Apple post about iTunes being "overpriced." It's just another digital store.
In reply to an earlier post on Sep 10, 2012 5:40:52 AM PDT
Ok thanks. Whew! That clears it up. Thanks again Jon.
In reply to an earlier post on Sep 10, 2012 9:33:59 PM PDT
M. Mcconnell says:
I have not read thru all 70 comments, but since the initial review, a few corrections to make in regards to apple TV, the new apple TV shows HD content in 1080. The remote it comes with is line of sight, however you can download a remote app to your iPhone or android and connect to it thru wifi signal which allows you to control it from any angle. You can also home share, which means you can play slide shows of pictures from your PC while playing your music from your home share iTunes. (home share allows multiple iTunes accounts within the same wifi server to share content). You can stream video from your iPhone to the tv, iPad, or vise versa. Someone else asked about streaming content from a computer, yes as long as its a Mac, but if you aren't springing for the Mac, it works fine with an iPhone or iPad. When ever you buy a blu ray that includes a digital copy, just look on the back and see if it's iTunes compatible. (some are only ultra violet). If iTunes compatible, redeem thru iTunes and you now own this video forever thru your iTunes account. Ready to download in HD to any of your apple devices or stream to your apple tv. It does not stay on your apple tv in terms of memory space, but is always in your iTunes acct to watch again. If you download to a device like iPad to view, you can delete it for space, but still download again. The integration that apple devices have is seamless. Many other brands try to copy it, but it's just not as easy or well basically as faultless. For many of these reasons I went with the apple tv, however I am also looking at buying a roku in addition. Why? Amazon prime video for one, and Hulu. Currently you can not watch Hulu on apple tv. You can on the iPad, but it is blocked from sending to your apple tv. Apparently apple is looking to get into the TV business and also currently sells many of the same shows. I already pay for my Hulu acct monthly. So would like to use it first before I buy episodes. Also, apple does not get every new movie as no player will, too many deals worked out for exclusives ect, so this way I'm covered. But the apple tv will still be my primary go to.
In reply to an earlier post on Sep 10, 2012 9:40:12 PM PDT
M. Mcconnell says:
If you want to play them off line without streaming, you can download them to an iPhone, iPad or Mac and then watch the content until you delete it. Only the apple tv streams.