on November 27, 2010
I bought this device for my father as he is somewhat technically challenged. He kept telling me that he wanted to watch Netflix on his 52" LCD television. He was under the impression that he had to buy a Blue Ray player to achieve a high quality streaming experience. I figured it would be nice to buy a Blue Ray player since he'd have the player for all the DVD's he owns and the Netflix streaming would be gravy. After pricing the BR players I realized that if I wanted WIFI built in, I'd have to buy an off brand unit to be at a comfortable price point. Further research revealed the Roku XDS which is a fantastic piece of tech. It is extremely easy to set up. From the time you open the package to the moment you're watching a movie streaming from Netflix is around 15 minutes. You could probably even do it faster, but I was tinkering with some of the other channels that Roku has to offer.
Since WIFI connectivity was an extremely important feature, I quickly went to that screen in the setup sequence to make sure I had a good signal. Since my router is 10 feet from the Roku box my throughput is very high. I could have ran a cable to the ethernet connection but then we're talking more wires. I hate wires!!! I put in my WEP password and the box promptly started updating the firmware. In order to link your Netflix account the Roku will show you an alphanumeric code. You just go to [...]and input the code that appears on the screen. Within 15 seconds or so the Roku screen will advance and you are now fully integrated with Netflix. There is no need to do this again unless you reset the Roku back to factory settings. The same procedure is used for Pandora and other channels offered on the Roku.
There are dozens of other channels that you can add to Roku. If you have an Amazon VOD account, it integrates just as easily as the Netflix account. Then you have the ability to add Hulu + as well but I don't recommend that. The cost is $7.99/month as of this writing and since you still have to watch ads, I don't see the value. Lastly, if you're on the fence about which Roku to purchase (there are three) you should consider the top of the line model or the second tiered unit. Do not consider the cheapest model because it lacks WIFI and will not transmit in HD.
I happen to own the new generation of Apple TV (nearly same size as Roku). The reason I have the Apple unit is because of how it tightly integrates with iTunes and the iPhone 4 which I have. I can easily recommend the Roku player to anyone who wants to add a nice piece of tech to their multi-media systems. Best of luck and thanks for reading my review.
on October 16, 2010
Like a lot of people who use Amazon, I own all kinds of electronic gear. Every once in a while, you get your hands on a device that really stands out in terms of ease of use and performance. When I first hooked up my Slingbox, for example, I realized that it was unique and was going to add something truly useful and impressive to my audio-video set-up. When I read a description of the Roku box, I had a similar expectation. Could it be as easy to use as advertised? Would it perform on a level that would really satisfy? Would it be one of those "stand out" devices? Now I can say in all honesty that the Roku player is everything I hoped and more. When the description says you will be up and running in just a few minutes, you can believe it. I opened the box, plugged in the power cord, attached a cable to my high speed router, and ran audio to my amp. I turned everything on and immediately saw the set-up screen for the Roku player. To run a quick test, I tried streaming a video from Netflix--it worked perfectly. This initial set-up and test took no more than 10 minutes. After several days of using the Roku, I have yet to have even the slightest problem. I have added a couple dozen channels and all work as expected. My only moment of hesitation came when I saw how small the Roku player is. It is tiny sitting there with all the other components, but when I saw what it could do, the size became inconsequential. The Roku player truly is an impressive device. While not necessarily a replacement, the Roku XDS Streaming Player is another serious alternative to cable TV. By the way, for those traveling outside the USA, where Netflix does not allow the streaming of movies on your PC, there is a way to connect the Roku player to your Slingbox. You then have access to Netflix through the Roku wherever you have an internet connection.
on October 15, 2010
I have been looking for an alternative to cable/satellite for awhile. The ROKU XDS is the closest thing to it. With the support of Netflix streaming(some episodes even in HD), and with Hulu plus coming in the fall, the ROKU XDS is all my family needs. Also, if you look at the ROKU forums, developers are creating other private and premium channels. This is something that Apple.tv cannot do. They also mention on their website that with an update in November you will be able to play video off USB. Setup took only minutes and the picture in awesome on my 1080P LCD. The only draw back would be if you watch a lot of sports, currently they only have MLB.tv. As soon as Hulu Plus is added I will be dropping my $90/month satellite bill and pay $20 a month for Hulu and Netflix.
on November 18, 2010
So picture this.... Here I am, paying over $110/month to a cable company for internet and cable. I have a thousand channels, but yet every night when I get home from work I struggle to find anything to watch..
Then I discover Netflix streaming on my Wii. Well I was so enamoured that I decided to look into set-top boxes that could bring Netflix and more to my TV (the Wii remote is just a pain to use as a TV remote).
I did some research, and came across the then upcoming Boxee Box. Well I just couldn't wait to try it out, but I didn't have a tv with an HDMI, so I kept looking and saw the Rokus support any tv hookup and if you have the tv its in 1080p too! (where available). So I bought the XDS. I was instantly impressed on how easy it was to set up. I had my Netflix, and all of a sudden I was choosing from a hundred different channels of content from Hulu + to live streaming 24 hour news out of Russia, France, and England. Needless to say I was impressed.
Even though I was happy, I still really thought about getting the Boxee Box and returning the Roku because I had used the software on my PC and it was so slick, and with the addition of its browser I figured how could I go wrong? Well once that BB was released and it was lambasted in the reviews, I quickly realized the Roku was exactly the right choice!
True there are its deficiencies, (no product is really going to be EVERYTHING) one of them being local playback. It doesn't support the breadth of codecs that others do, but pop in a thumb drive of videos in mp4 and you can watch personal files on your TV too! That's the extent of my local library so local playback isn't very important to me anyway. Other than that, all I know is for the price of Netflix and Hulu ($17 combined) I canceled BOTH my expensive cable and internet, plugged in an antenna for OTA local channels, and picked up a DSL package from my phone company for $20. So for $37/ month,down from $110, I have infinitely MORE to watch on my own schedule... Well I couldn't be happier. My only complaint is there is almost too much I want to watch!
If you are looking to save some $$$ from those cable provider rip-off artists, actually want MORE for your money not LESS, and aren't really concerned about local playback, then my advice is to definately buy the Roku.
Since my initial purchase I have also purchased another and a WD Live Plus. I can honestly tell you that the WD is great for local streaming, but is far out-shined by the Roku for internet streaming.
I have created approximately 1.5tb of dvd .iso files which my WD will play with full menu support. Roku has just recently begun officially supporting its USB channel for the XDS, but file support for video is basically limited to WM9, MP4, and MKV. I get alot of use out of the XDS USB port, but obviously it won't support all what the WD does. That's great when I want to watch something I already own, but there is so much available from Netflix, Youtube, Hulu Plus (not on WD) and now on Crackle (also not on WD)that most of the time the WD remains unused.
I have even developed a number of channels myself for the Roku of live news, just that capability of individual users to create channels and bring more value to everyone's purchase throws it over the top for me. If you are reading my review, just click "add to cart" because you will not regret it.
on November 4, 2010
I brought this for my mother because it will be simple for her to use. I especially liked the simple remote control which is not overwhelming. However the wireless connectivity was a little difficult and very finicky. The wireless router is located about 20 feet away, and we've never had any problem conencting with laptops or iPhones/iPods. However, I had to fidget with the placement of the Roku and attempted 2-3x before connecting finally. It then downloaded an update and after it rebooted, it lost the wireless connection again. So I fidgeted with the placement again until it connected. Then I tried to setup NetFlix and the wireless had dropped again, so I reconnected, got the activitation code and it validated the Roku box. Thankfully, you cannot turn the Roku off so hopefully once it's connected, it stays connected or tries to reconnect. I am hoping it was just the initial setup that was slightly flakey. To be on the safe side, I made sure the wireless router and the Roku had as few electronic obstacles around it. I am very impressed with the streaming technology and how the Roku is able to buffer the streaming so the movie is shown smoothly and crisply. It does look so much better than watching NetFlix on the PC or Wii. I also have Netflix on the PS3 and Xbox360 and I find the quality comparable. Another great feature is that the audio is turned on for BOTH HDMI and left/right audio cables so you can run the sound to the receiver and TV. Unfortunately, I ran out of optical inputs on the receiver but I'm assuming that toslink connection is always on as well. I have high hopes that my mother will be able to use the Roku, and once Netflix starts providing closed-captioning on the Roku, it will be even more useful! I am just concerned about the wireless connectivity but if it does prove to be a problem, my solution would be to run ethernet straight to the Roku or wire the electrical outlets with Netgear PowerLine equipment (they seem to provide very good results).
on March 27, 2011
Roku XDS Streaming Player 1080p: Easy install, Easy to operate...and how to work-around the Roku "convenience" of providing your credit card information (hype)when activating your Roku account (during the registration of a newly-purchased Roku box).
We just received the Roku XDS for use with an existing HD Panasonic plasma big screen. The physical installation using the provided installation instructions and a separately-purchased HDMI cable was straight-forward. The set-up option chosen was "wireless" using our existing PC router, rather than poking a hole through-the-wall & using a long CAT5 cable. The concerns I'd read about on other Amazon user-reviews regarding leaving the unit permanently "on" and having it overheat were basically unfounded...the Roku XDS unit is similar to a router or cable modem, with similar heat outputs. I found unplugging the power transforer to cool the unit down is overstated and unnecessary...if you don't unplug your modem or router now each night...you don't need to shut the Roku down or unplug it either; that is, unless you want to reduce energy consumption, or you are not going to use this device for a few weeks.
Regarding installation, the Roku registration process requires you to register your credit card number to complete their registration! This was specifically NOT to my liking; since this was not disclosed prior to purchase, nor was I impressed with their privacy of information statements. Contacted their service number to find out "why" a credit card registration was mandated (this is a streaming box that you buy outright). Was connected with a service rep in India. The rep's response is that you need to have your credit card on file to have the convenience of purchasing optional access channels and accessories from their store. Since I already have Netflix and Hulu+ I requested a "bypass" or go-around code. After listening to a lengthy sales pitch, and several reasons why a record of my card number was important to my convenience, I asked to speak to a supervisor for a bypass code. After 5 minutes of music, I had my bypass code...but had to enter it on the MAIN Roku website, NOT the original registration site. In parallel, the Roku rep entered the required box information manually. The registration worked, and I changed my password twice, wrote it down, and verified on their website that my new registration had taken effect. Everything following registration worked as it was supposed to (with the code- loading processes). To purchase fee-based networks from the Roku store (most are free, some require access $ fees), you have to give a credit card for payment).
Strong note of advice: During the set-up process, you need to have access to your main PC or a portable laptop running on the SAME home network, and be CLOSE-BY your TV set to be able to input the various codes and passwords that appear on your TV set...or have a runner with a note pad/pencil to write the on-screen codes down that display on the tv set!
The Roku XDS Box works very well. Picture is great on Hi Def (720 HD setting was used) The remote is a basic "some-what" user-friendly device that uses "hunt-and-peck" method to select your viewing choices. Using a laptop or PC to pre-search the hundreds of movie titles and TV show titles available (and jotting them down) is a lot faster than using the supplied remote as a search tool. Installation and use of the Roku XDS is a good experience. Plan on 1-2 hours to get all of the whistles and bells registered, codes input, and the remote familiarity established. Longer if you opt out of the credit card "convenience" mentioned above. We should have tossed the cable out years ago...this is great viewing option...but...no streaming of tv's "Fringe!" due to a broadcasting licensing statement on Hulu, you have to watch this one on your PC :( Weatherbug.
on October 17, 2010
CHANGES SINCE INITIAL REVIEW;
1.The Roku has both composite and HDMI outputs; only composite cables are furnished. You'll have to buy an HDMI cable if you want to use the HDMI output. If you use the composite output, the image will be degraded vs HDMI. HDMI cables are much cheaper from amazon than a local store where they tend to be pricey.
2. You now must register the Roku at it's site before moving along to register the device with Netflix or other channels.
3. Before you can register, Roku also now also demands your credit card information in case you purchase other pay channels from them.
Comment: Those that have given bad reviews based on Roku's service support; well, they are right. The support is outsourced to Mumbai or somewhere in India, and support on warranty is just awful. Dealing with them may drive you nuts. There is no way of contacting Roku headquarters in the US to complain or get help. The phone number given on their website doesn't work. If you buy this device and it fails, you may possibly have to treat it as a throwaway. It pays to get it from Amazon or another supplier that has return privileges for at least a month in case it fails. As with most electronic devices, the majority of failures will happen within the first several days.
INITIAL REVIEW AS FOLLOWS;
OUT OF THE BOX;
Comes with the basic unit, Composite cables (pretty useless), power supply, remote, a very minimal setup guide, and batteries for the remote.
Wired ethernet is also an option.
1. There is some plastic film to peel off. Plug the unit in and connect your HDMI cable, composite cabling (or component cables-older Roku's) to your TV or HD AMP. Turn your TV and amp on and set the correct inputs. The unit will display the first screen on TV and immediately ask what kind of connection you would like. I used wireless, which I suspect will be most popular.
2. Wireless networks in range with SSID broadcast on will be displayed. Choose your network and click Ok. The next screen has alphanumeric input to supply your network password if your router is set to WEP or WPA protection. If you have MAC filtering on, turn off your MAC filter or add the MAC device ID to your router. The ROKU's MAC is displayed if you seek help from a help menu button on the password screen.
3. If the following sounds a bit complicated, it's not really. The setup proceedure will lead you through it well. The unit will connect and do a rather lengthy download of a "software" update. If this is successful, the home screen will be displayed with options of what service you want to link to the ROKU. If any step fails, back to the first setup screen. Thankfully it remembers your net password. You will also have to choose a display size configuration and resolution. The unit will then display a code to link to the ROKU site. You can ignore it or link to the ROKU site and choose your service from there. I picked 1080P HD, and chose Netflix directly from the ROKU menu. Be careful here! If your TV can't display HD, and you choose it, the screen will scramble requiring a hard Roku reset and start from scratch. (button on the bottom of the unit). This might damage the Roku, so choose the right TV resolution. A new Netflix specific code will be displayed. Then I went to my computer to pull up the Netflix site, migrate to streaming access, pick the ROKU out of a menu of devices (it's "other") and input the Netflix code.
4. Thats it! The ROKU will now be ready and will display a nice Netflix menu to choose what you want to stream and play. The Computer menu is a bit easier to browse when choosing a DVD or show to watch than the ROKU screen, but the latter is perfectly serviceable, especially if you know what you want to watch.
Some caveats/suggestions/musings. When I started the setup routine, the device kept rebooting and loosing network connectivity. It was position. It is VERY sensitive to it's placement. Don't put it in between a large amp and a DVD player, or in a deep cabinet, say. Have it positioned out in the open. If you don't have a gigabit 802.11 "n" router, get one. There's lots of info downloading and streaming to this device through your router. Some reviews have criticized the ROKU's remote. I found it worked just fine. If you are wedded to the idea of streaming media, this device is great at present. But, there is an increasing selection of Blu- Ray DVD players with this capability already built in. They are much more expensive at this time, but prices will come down. If you are almost ready to upgrade to a Blu-Ray player, maybe good to wait a bit and pick one when prices fall in the near future.
Great. video quality and sound are terrific at 720p. 1080p and surround sound to probably come from Netflix next year, I hear. Wasn't disappointed at all. Terrific buy.
on October 20, 2010
This is a great product. Not only can you get streaming Netflix - but so much more. Now that there are so many of makers of 'streaming boxes', just doing that singular act is not so miraculous anymore. Its how many other 'apps' that are available on the box that gives you that 'extra'. And ROKU is great about adding new apps all the time. And I like that there are so many options on how to connect the device to my tv. That allows me to move the ROKU box around in the house and attach it to other tvs - even my older tvs that only have red,white,yellow RCA connectors on the back of them. I can even take it on trips with me and attach it to 'whatever' tv, as long as wireless is available to me.
When I got my new ROKU XDS I, like others that reported here, had some problems getting it to connect to my wireless network. So, I reported the problem to ROKU support and they provided me with the 'fix' (see below). Glad I waited for their response before sending it back.
Kindly go through the following instructions.
1.Turn off the Modem, Router, and the Roku player.
2.Plug the Modem back in, give it some time to settle down.
3.Plug the router back in and when ready, turn on the Roku player.
If you have a cable modem, kindly unscrew the co-axial cable, wait for 30 seconds and then plug it back in.
on May 13, 2011
The fact that you need to give them your credit card number after you have paid for the device needs to be up front not to be learned after you take the time to set up the Roku, a bad business model. I gave up my card info just to move on with life, but really I can't believe more people aren't annoyed by this. EDIT- I didn't register and I returned the device, just a poor business model that is too invasive.
on May 12, 2011
1) Roku demands your credit card number to activate the device. After you have spending considerable time setting it up they pull this deceptive trick at the very last step during final activation. None of the documentation inside the box or out indicates this would be a requirement. Why would anyone give a company their credit card number if they understood that company had nothing of interest to offer them in exchange? Roku has no service of interest to me. I just want to stream Netflix. Western Digital, Seagate and Iomega streaming units work immediately with all kinds of features. They never ask for credit card information. They just work, no hassle.
2) The Roku can't output HDMI video simultaneously with Composite video. Western Digital, Seagate and Iomega streaming devices do with excellent sync as well.