Customer Review

193 of 217 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Roku 2 XS - Much better than I thought!, August 20, 2011
This review is from: Roku 2 XS 1080p Streaming Player (Old Model) (Electronics)
First some info about my setup, as I think this is important when reviewing a streaming player:

*Roku XD connected via ethernet and HDMI cables to my HDTV.
*Roku 2 XS connected via ethernet and HDMI cables to my daughter's HDTV.
*High-Speed Internet connection via Comcast's Xfinity Blast! service. My speeds are: 30mbps download and 5mbps upload.
*Modem: Motorola SURFboard eXtreme DOCSIS 3.0 Modem, model SB6120. (Comcast compatible. I own my modem, so I don't pay Comcast rental fees anymore!)
*Router: NetGear N600 Wireless Dual Band 802.11n Gigabit Router, model WNDR3700.
*Ethernet cables: Cat6a throughout (best for carrying broadband video). Cat5 or Cat5e is what most customers have, and do not need to be replaced unless one wants the very best video performance an ethernet cable can provide.
*HDMI cables: Bought the cheapest ones available; they either work or they don't, as the signal is all digital.

Because of the type of Internet service one uses, along with the equipment they use to access the Internet (modem & router), there may be a wide range of personal experiences that have little or nothing to do with the Roku player itself. The only issue I've read so far that makes some sense, excepting the occasional report of a bad Roku unit, is that the Roku 2 XS has a problem with it's storage capacity when the game Angry Birds is played. Many have reported this problem and one of the fixes is to uninstall the Angry Birds game. Another possible fix is to simply purchase a microSD card when buying a Roku 2; Roku sells a 2GB card for $5. That is exactly what I did when I ordered the Roku 2 XS from their site, and neither I nor my daughter have had any problems whatsoever with the game or the Roku player trying to reboot/recycle.

Both the older Roku XD and the new Roku 2 XS work extremely well for what they were designed to do - stream video. I've had both units connected wirelessly and via ethernet cable. Both units were a little slower with a wireless connection when compared to being hard wired. Too, a wireless connection was much more likely to downgrade the video quality from 4 dots to 3 or 2 when in Netflix in order to play a video. (Netflix uses 4 dots followed by HD, if the video can play in HD, when it is loading a video. This looks a bit like this: **** HD). Downgrading video quality does not happen very often when using an ethernet cable. However, I was surprised the Roku 2 XS responded faster wirelessly and didn't downgrade the video quality as often as my older Roku XD. This could be a difference in the hardware itself, or it might be that my Roku XD's extra distance of about 10 feet from my router caused the slower performance.

Advice to prospective customers wanting to buy a Roku streaming player:

I would recommend the Roku 2 XS over the other Roku 2 models simply because it comes with an ethernet port for a wired connection. For some customers this could make a big difference when a wireless connection is difficult to achieve or slow at best.

Too, those planning on wireless, and want the best, most reliable performance, use an 802.11n router. However, if one only has an 802.11g router, a Roku player might work just fine; try it before you buy the faster 802.11n router.

Finally, one should have a fast Internet connection. DSL speed may offer erratic streaming at best. Even basic Internet service via cable may not offer the consistency of streaming that high-speed Internet service does in some areas for some folks. Most cable companies offer varying speeds - I pay $10 extra a month for Comcast's Xfinity Blast! high-speed Internet service, for example. New Roku users should try the service they have first and then upgrade, if necessary.

When one has good equipment and a (consistent) high-speed Internet connection, these Roku players perform extremely well. I'm very pleased with both units we have working off the same Internet connection.

Oh, one last thought: I like the Roku 2 XS remote much more than the one that came with the Roku XD. The buttons all set up higher, making them much easier to use, and because of it's use of Bluetooth wireless to control the Roku 2 XS, one need not point the remote directly at the Roku, which I do have to do with my remote for the Roku XD.
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Comments

Tracked by 4 customers

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Showing 1-10 of 18 posts in this discussion
Initial post: Aug 23, 2011 1:36:42 PM PDT
You may like to pay for the best, but several of your comments are not accurate.

In an apartment for example - I have my Linksys G2 router set up - and on the other side - my laptop with a Medialink G dongle.

Using REGULAR Comcast, I stream 18 to 20Mbs to the Laptop. Ethernet is not necessary, and you don't need an n router to improve speed (they may be obsolete - but the n router is for distance, not increasing speed - you get the same speeds no matter which you set up).

I have the RIGHT equipment, and the constant high speed connection (unless Comcast decides to do maintenance, than no connection - and it doesn't matter which speed you have), and I spend a LOT less money than you do. However, that is why I buy Roku's (my second TV is now being set up in a new apartment, so I'm keeping the older box in the Living Room, and that CHEAP 59.99 model is going in the bedroom). I buy these bad boys to save money, not give comcast more.

In reply to an earlier post on Aug 23, 2011 4:20:44 PM PDT
Last edited by the author on Aug 23, 2011 4:50:36 PM PDT
E. Stoddard says:
@Cold In Seattle:

My comments were directed to those who might experience problems and would wish to avoid them from the start, or do upgrades that might improve streaming services. I've read a lot of complaints about the Roku not working the way folks expected - dropping connections, recycling or rebooting all the time, downgrading video quality constantly, etc. Cable speed varies from vendor to vendor, as does the reliability of the service. Comcast is pretty reliable but I've read horror stories about other cable vendors.

Of course Ethernet is not necessary to stream video, but many folks complain of the repeated slow load times and the fall back to downgrade the video quality due to an erratic signal or reduced bandwidth due to peak user times. This can be quite annoying when it happens while watching a video. For those not wanting to wait all the time to watch streaming video via a wireless connection, Ethernet offers better performance; this is not an opinion - it's a fact. I'm one of those who like and prefer better performance; I get wireless just fine (though with slower load times and some downgrading of video quality that does NOT happen with Ethernet) but I CHOOSE to have the best video quality and speed possible, therefore, my Roku's are connected via Gigabit Ethernet ports. I even use Cat6a Ethernet cable because it allows even faster speeds than Cat5e. Do other customers need to buy Cat6a? No. Would I recommend Cat6a over Cat5e? Yes! I would every time, at least from router to Roku player, and since the Roku customer will have to purchase an Ethernet cable anyway, if they want that type of connection.

Not all people are the same. Some prefer performance and some prefer whatever works. I'm for performance and I understand that you are for whatever works. Nothing wrong with either. I've edited my review a bit to advise folks to try the equipment they have first to see if it works for them. If they want a greater improvement over the service they are getting, they could try my recommendations.

BTW, 802.11n not only has a longer range but also allows more bandwidth. Go here for the differences between the various 802.11 protocols: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/IEEE_802.11

In reply to an earlier post on Sep 6, 2011 6:29:12 PM PDT
J. Shinn says:
E. Stoddard is more correct in their statements than Seattle. MIMO allows 802.11n to resolve a greater amount of information.

Also, if you read Stoddard's excellent review, they state their recommendation is actually for customers to try Roku on their existing infrastructure and equipment first, and upgrade only if they see degrading performance.

BTW, the Roku 2 XS is THE model for me. When you have three models on three television, and 2 possible computer streaming as well, it is nice to get as much hard wired as you can. The two laptops stream wirelessly and for me that is quite enough for my WRT600N router to handle. With the three Roku 2's in wired mode we can stream everything and not notice a degrade in performance.

All in all, I'd say with our "pay for the best" cable Internet, Netflix, Hulu and Pandora paid subscriptions we are getting off far cheaper than with a basic Internet subscription and cable or satellite TV.

Thanks Stoddard for providing useful reviews.

Posted on Oct 28, 2011 12:37:11 AM PDT
John D. says:
*Ethernet cables: Cat6a throughout (best for carrying broadband video). Cat5 or Cat5e is what most customers have, and do not need to be replaced unless one wants the very best video performance an ethernet cable can provide.
*HDMI cables: Bought the cheapest ones available; they either work or they don't, as the signal is all digital.

The signal on Ethernet is all digital too...

In reply to an earlier post on Oct 28, 2011 1:08:51 AM PDT
E. Stoddard says:
Not all Cat ethernet cables treat digital signals the same. Cat6a isn't necessary in most parts of a consumers home network but is better than Cat5e from router to streaming media devices, such as the Roku.

Please visit this site to learn more: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Category_6_cable

In reply to an earlier post on Apr 11, 2012 8:12:20 PM PDT
slosuenos says:
Both are digital, and the gigabit connection between your Roku and your router is no different with Cat5e or Cat6x. The wikipedia (and any other) article you cite demonstrates Cat6 superiority ONLY with speeds beyond 1 gigabit.

Buy Cat6 cables (and Monster) if you enjoy wasting your money...

Posted on Dec 16, 2012 7:10:28 AM PST
H. Nourse says:
E. Stoddar, thank you so much for your help, I will be buying my Roku 2xs thanks to your review. I am not very tech savy, so your post will help me to set it up. Thank you again. Tech savy people like you are much appreciated in this world.

In reply to an earlier post on Dec 16, 2012 10:19:19 AM PST
Last edited by the author on Dec 16, 2012 10:20:21 AM PST
E. Stoddard says:
slosuenos:

If you must save a few cents, go ahead and buy Cat5e cables. I won't stop you, or anyone for that matter. I have noticed a very small increase in speed with the Cat6a - not enough that one should go out and replace their Cat5e cables but if they must buy cables, I would recommend Cat6a. I've used both. I also want to be ready to handle faster service when it becomes available.

However, we do agree on one thing - no one should buy any digital Monster cables - it's absolutely a waste of money.

In reply to an earlier post on Dec 16, 2012 10:20:05 AM PST
E. Stoddard says:
J. Shinn & H. Nourse:

Thanks very much for your kind comments! :)

In reply to an earlier post on Dec 16, 2012 4:12:22 PM PST
Sandlapper says:
@E. Stoddard,

Would you mind giving an example of the "few cents" difference in price between Cat5e and Cat6a cables? TIA
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