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I wrote a scathingly negative one-star review (see my other Amazon reviews) of the Roku 2 XS when it first became available here on Amazon.com in August 2011.

My final comment after returning the, in my opinion, not ready for prime time Roku 2 XS was something to the effect that I would intentionally be waiting for Roku 3 before ever purchasing another Roku.

Well Roku 3 is finally here and boy oh boy am I ever glad to have waited!

Initial setup of this extremely compact streaming device is truly a breeze and takes just a few minutes.

All of the annoying issues of interference with other devices (sound bar, digital picture frame, Internet radio, etc.) in my living room - in which absolutely nothing has changed since August 2011 when I took the Roku 2 XS for an extremely disappointing spin - have been completely resolved in this new incarnation of the Roku product line.

Internet connection problems are no more even with the very same wireless router and modem that I had back in 2011: The Roku 3 connects quickly and easily to my private/secure WiFi network and streaming of the available channels (a truly overwhelming selection with hundreds of free channels and others at nominal monthly cost) is fast and smooth just like a conventional TV program not originating via the Internet. The audio signal is loud and crystal clear. As of 05/21/2013, I have an approximately 50 Mbps broadband download speed available, but 20 Mbps also has worked fine in the past.

To avoid disappointment before purchasing any Roku model be sure to do your research concerning available programming/channels beforehand. Check the Roku website on the Internet to see what is and what is not available as far as channel selection is concerned, as well as what is absolutely free and which programming is associated with a clearly specified recurring monthly fee.

Two sites on the Internet - Roku Guide and Roku Channel Database - also can provide extremely useful information on Roku programming, especially the lowdown on free private channels (such as BBC World News and others) and the needed codes to add them to your Roku device. As of 12/30/2013, I have 123 absolutely free channels installed on my Roku 3 and this includes YouTube which has just recently been added to the impressive lineup.

Especially if you are news junkie, you will be able to get much more than your needed fix and possibly be at serious risk of overdosing from all the English language (and many foreign language) newscasts available from the USA and diverse international sources (UK, Japan, China, Australia, Canada, Russia, the entire EU - most notably Germany and France, Israel, South Africa and many others).

I have read several reviews posted here on Amazon giving the Roku 3 a single star, because the purchaser's incorrect and unrealistic expectations were not met, namely being able to see everything live on all broadcast channels just like he/she could with cable/dish television but for free. Get real! Obviously these individuals did not properly research what this device does and does not do before purchasing it. They are the ones who have earned a one star rating, not the Roku 3!

The remote control provided is simple to use and responds quickly when appropriate buttons indicating one's selections are actuated and it need not be pointed at the Roku 3.

I haven't yet had occasion to use the provided earphones or try out the memory expansion capability with a microSD card, but I really don't expect any problems here.

Overall, this is a very impressive example of technical virtuosity. The device is well worth the price of approximately $100.00 which for many people represents the monthly cost of cable/dish television. It may sound good to have potential access to 200-300 channels, but in reality you're probably really only interested in regularly watching a small percentage (10 percent?) of what you're being forced to pay for in those inconvenient channel packages. With Roku 3 and other streaming devices channel selection is always a la carte.

If you're a really smart consumer what you'll do is purchase one of these newly available game-changing Roku 3 streaming devices, pair it with a small and nifty indoor antenna like the Mohu Leaf or the Terk HDTVa Antenna Pro (see my reviews here on Amazon) to also receive TV channels the old fashioned and free way via the airwaves and then cut the cable company/dish cord for good.

I have done this and have been cable-free since August 2011 and am loving it! You too can liberate yourself from cable company/dish slavery and save the cost of a brand new HDTV every year (about $1200.00 annually). Go ahead, cut the cord and finally set yourself free!

Note that if you do decide to pursue a cable-free, dish-free TV lifestyle, don't skimp on the broadband connection that you will need to ensure smooth streaming with minimal buffering; this is especially important with a WiFi connection. Sufficient bandwidth is essential for the Roku 3 to provide an enjoyable TV viewing experience; it can't work miracles without it.
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on March 8, 2013
Let me first say that I have been a Roku user for a number of years now, and own a Roku 1 XD, XDS, and a Roku 2 XS. I have also owned and used in the past the Logitech Review using GoogleTV, the last two non-Google TV Sony boxes, and two generations of the WD TV Live streamers. After owning and using all those, the Roku is the only one that has a place in my livingroom, and here's why...

Without boring everyone on the specs of the R's, let me start by telling about my experience setting it up.

Once unpacked one simply plugs the power adapter into the wall and an HDMI cable into the TV and the Roku, that's it. The unit begins booting up then asks you to select whether you want to use a wireless or wired network connection. I selected wireless and it then shows a list of the networks it detected. Once you choose your network you input the password for your network and in a few seconds it connects right away.

Finally it displays an activation code which you are to use to activate and attach the Roku to your online Roku account. For some seeking out a computer that may or may not be near the TV might be a pain, but I simply opened Safari on my iPhone and added the code to my account while sitting in front of the TV.

Once the code is entered, as part of the attaching process you are prompted to add payment info just in case you want to buy a channel or game in the future. You can not bypass this but IT'S OK. Enter it in and finish the account set up. Once you do you can simply choose to delete the payment info and it's erased from the Roku servers.

Once the account is made and successfully linked, the Roku automatically downloads the channels from your account (if you are attaching it to an existing account) or just quickly downloads the few selected during the account creation process, including "Angry Birds Space".

That's it, its that easy to get it set and ready to stream. Of course with some premium channels you will either need to log in to your account from the Roku (Netflix) or similarly link the box to your online account using a computer, smartphone, or tablet browser (Amazon Instant Video).

I have found that the set up is incredibly easy over the numerous boxes I've used over the last few years and always recommend a Roku to especially those less adept at setting up electronics/computers/networking items.

The interface--

The interface of the Roku units has always been a sore point.. When it started out with just Netflix and then just a few channels, the horizontal row of channel icons was fine, but now with HUNDREDS of channels it was sorely needing a refresh. The interface alone was one of the biggest reasons I was always trying different streaming boxes..

I'm so pleased to see the new grid-style interface on the R3. Not only is it beautifully rendered, but it is very, very fast to navigate and to find whatever it is you want in your channel list. Very modern-looking and functional.

One huge thing I notice over the older units in the interface is that besides it being "pretty", even the channels load much faster than previous units thanks to a new processor.

The universal search function is great too, allowing you to search for movies, shows, and even actors across the major providers.

The USB port--

USB functionality is a great add-on for the top tier Roku. The Roku units are first and foremost internet streamers, but the convenience of plugging in a thumb drive and being able to play some of my personal movie collection is great. Video format is rather limited, but again this is an add-on feature not a main selling point. Because I'm an iTunes user, I rip all my movies/shows as H.264 MP4 files because thy are iPhone/iPad compatible, and just so happen they are compatible with Roku as well. Very nice.

Programming----

This is where Roku is just second to none, and why I choose to use it over all the others. Besides the big players like Netflix, Vudu, etc. Roku has such a wealth of programming that I actually hate it. I hate the fact I'm not independently wealthy and have to work for a living, and consequently don't have enough time in the day to watch everything on there I want to. You may very well feel the same way, but not to worry.. Unlike broadcast TV, everything on Roku is on-demand, meaning its there when you want it, not when its being broadcast.

Now sure, there's no YouTube. That might or might not be coming so if you get one, just assume you won't have it. Cute little kitty videos are fun to watch on the TV, but there's tons more you can watch on other channels. I love the fact I can get live streaming news from the BBC or CNN International, or watch cheesy, badly dubbed Kung fu movies, or B-movie horror and sci-fi all night long for free from my Roku if I want lol. The Roku's available programming really is like a buffet, its all you can eat and there's something for everybody.

The remote ---

The remote is very comfortable in the hands and acts as a motion-controlled controller for gaming. It it also isn't infared like a traditional remote so that means it doesn't have to be pointed right at the TV in order to work. The private listening mode worked really nicely when I tried it and I can imagine many uses for it.

Overall the Roku 3 is a great upgrade from the previous Roku 2, mostly because of the new UI (which will be coming to the roku 2 units in a month or two), the faster processor, and the wireless private listening mode. If you already have an R2 XS, I don't honestly think its worth upgrading since its biggest noticeable feature (the UI) will come in time.

For some just now dipping their toes in the world of internet streaming, I personally would get this Roku 3 hands-down over any other competing player on the market. Its so easy to use and that's why not only is it what I use but what my elderly parents use too. The best thing about them is they keep getting better.
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on November 3, 2013
Roku 3 is an audio/video streaming device for your TV and A/V system. It lets you (a) play online audio/video streaming content, (b) play your local media content from USB storage or home network, and (c) play a few casual games. All Roku-brand devices are market leaders at the moment as they support most of the major content providers, such as Netflix, Amazon, Hulu, Vudu, Redbox, Blockbuster, Pandora, etc.

Roku requires a broadband Internet connection of at least 3 Mbps if you want to watch high definition video, or 1.5 Mbps for standard definition video. If you are unsure about your speed, go to Youtube or any online video site and watch some HD videos. If the quality is good, Roku's streaming quality should be too. Note that video quality still depends on individual content providers.

Roku 3 is a little black box that is small and light. Roku 3 actually weighs more than older models, so it doesn't fall off your furniture so easily. With an optional ten-dollar mount, you can mount the Roku box to the back of your TV.

Roku 3 only has one audio/video output available: HDMI. There are no composite (as in older Roku devices), component, Toslink, S/PDIF, nor RCA outputs at all, so those with legacy TV and A/V systems can't use it. Roku 3 also has an ethernet port for wired network connection, and supports dual-band 802.11 a/b/g/n for wireless network access.

Roku 3's default video and audio settings are 720p and stereo. Be sure to change them to 1080p and surround if that's what you need.

Roku 3 is remote-controllable via both Wi-fi and infrared. With Wi-fi, you can control it with the included Wi-fi remote or an iOS device. With infrared, you can control it with a universal remote such as Logitech Harmony One.

Roku 3 also has a microSD card slot and a USB port, which let you use additional storage for content and system settings.

Note that Roku is not exactly a substitute of cable TV because a lot of content can still only be seen on cable, notably live TV: live major sports programs and live broadcast of TV series.

Roku does have streaming of Time Warner live TV (for 300 channels), but you need a Time Warner cable subscription and a Time Warner Internet plan. Stream quality is pretty good. I'm able to watch live sports program in smooth video. But unfortunately there is no surround sound in any programs.

Roku also has limited streaming of live local TV. Without cable, the only way to get live local TV would be to use an antenna.

Most of what Roku offers is archived content, or "on-demand" content. There are hundreds of providers, which Roku calls "channels", that stream select archived programs that you can watch at any time. A wide variety of content is available: movies, TV shows, news magazines, webcasts, food, religion, fitness, technology, etc. A nice selection of international content from around the world is also available. Go to Roku's website and browse its channel store to see all it offers. New channels are added frequently.

There are channels for browsing your cloud media content as well. If you have photo albums on Picasa, Flickr, Dropbox, Shutterfly, etc., you can browse your photos with the Roku.

There are free channels as well as ones that require monthly subscriptions. Wikipedia has a list of free channels offered by Roku. Some channels require payment simply for GETTING that channel. E.g. the Dropbox channel costs 10 bucks.

Roku does not support iTunes or iCloud content because Apple doesn't allow Roku to compete with its own Apple TV device. But Roku does offer a free iOS app that lets you send video, music, and photos from your iOS device to your TV.

One of the big complaints from Roku users was that there was no Youtube channel. In December 2013, a Youtube channel was finally added, but only for the Roku 3 player. You can search, like, dislike, subscribe, turn on subtitles, and flag. You can also sign in to your account, but you cannot comment, nor can you create playlists. You can also send Youtube videos wirelessly from your iOS and Android devices to your Roku.

One of the headaches of viewing on-demand content is that content COULD EXPIRE (no longer be available) without much notice. When and how often content expires are often controlled by copyright holders of the content, who are not obliged to disclose much details to the public. From my observations, for instance, movies on Netflix are available for 2-3 years, or more. Extremely unfortunate circumstances could cause massive expirations. Netflix recently made headlines when it had to expire 1800 shows due to the requests from major studios like Warner Bros and others. Warner later started its own streaming service, the subscription-based Warner Archive Instant, which was recently added as a Roku channel. The losers are the consumers, who have to pay for yet another service to get content.

One important note about expired content is that, if you purchase and own an item, you are able to play it FOREVER, even if it expires later on.

Another headache is the design of individual channels. Functionality, user-friendliness, bugginess, and even streaming quality can vary widely among the channels.

For instance, some channels let you turn on closed captioning, but some don't. Some offer surround sound, and some don't. Some have great video quality, while some have long load times. Some have slick user interface, and some have primitive UI. In short, you are at the mercy of the channel providers (not Roku) as to how good a viewing experience you will get. This is akin to the Apple app store where the quality of every app is different. Roku's Channel Store shows star ratings from viewers, but no detailed info on their quality. There are websites such as RokuGuide dot com that review Roku channels, so look them up. At the end of this review, I will review some of the Roku channels I've used and their qualities.

For those who are not technically inclined, Roku may cause additional headache for requiring you to sign up for many of the channels, which leads to a whole lot of user ID and passwords you need to keep track of.

Viewing UltraViolet content is especially cumbersome: you need an UV account; you need an account from a content provider like Vudu or Flixster; and you need to link both accounts together. It may involve entering a redeem code on UV's website as well.

Besides streaming online content, the Roku device is also a media player for playing your personal local content from an external USB storage or home network. But it supports only a few media formats: MKV (H.264), MP4 (H.264), AAC, MP3, JPG, PNG. For that reason, I have rarely used Roku to play local content.

As I mentioned earlier, you can, however, use the Roku iOS app to send video, music, or photos from your iOS device to your TV. It interrupts whatever is on the screen and replaces it with your content. This is similar to the Airplay feature of Apple TV. The downside is that iOS devices also have limited media support, just like Roku. So if you have media that your iOS device can't play, neither can Roku.

Roku 3 is also a gaming console. Its remote has a motion sensor that works like a Wii controller and allows you to control on-screen movements. Roku 3 comes with "Angry Birds in Space" that showcases nicely the remote's ability. 63 other games are available in the channel store currently. Some are free, most are paid, and some can be trialed for free. All are in the casual game variety. Nowadays, it seems that all gadgets have to do two things at the minimum: stream video, and play games. Will your refrigerator and washing machine be doing the same soon?

And now, my reviews of a few Roku channels:

One of the big complaints from Roku users was that there was no YOUTUBE channel. In December 2013, a Youtube channel was finally added, but only for the Roku 3 player. You can search, like, dislike, subscribe, turn on subtitles for, and flag videos. You can also sign in to your account, but you cannot comment. You can also send Youtube videos wirelessly from your iOS and Android devices to your Roku.

NETFLIX INSTANT costs $8 a month and offers what many believe to be the largest selection of programs. It offers 1080p picture in "Super HD" (fancy way of saying higher bit rate) and also 3D streaming for select titles. If your Internet speed is high enough (at least 5-10 Mbps as required by Netflix), then you will get the best picture and sound quality currently offered by any streaming service. For surround audio, Netflix uses Dolby Digital Plus, a higher bit-rate and better-sounding version of old-fashioned Dolby Digital. Note that older TV sets and audio systems may not be able to process Dolby Digital Plus so check your manuals. As I mentioned earlier, content could expire without warning. The only place to see expiration dates is the Netflix website; Roku's Netflix channel does not show it. Regarding 3D streaming, only compatible TVs are supported. But I'm able to view it on a PC with Nvidia 3D Vision setup.

VUDU is an a-la-carte instant video service. There is no monthly fee, but you pay two to five dollar to rent a video for 24 hours, or pay ten dollar or more to own it. TV series episodes are for purchase only at about 3 dollar each. So VUDU is not for those who watch a lot of TV. It also offers 1080p picture and Dolby Digital Plus audio in "HDX" format (VUDU's version of high bit rate), which requires 5 Mbps, so it is similar to Netflix's quality. VUDU also offers a lot of 1080p movies that are not yet on Blu-ray. Other services offer them too, but VUDU seems to have more of them, including older, less mainstream films that are less likely to come out on Blu-ray, such as "Baby Doll", "Blow-up", "Wait until Dark", Alfred Hitchcock's silent films "The Ring" and "Manxman", and many others. Go to VUDU dot com to see what is offered.

AMAZON INSTANT has an unattractive pricing. Not only you have to pay upfront 79 dollar for one year of "prime membership", but you also have to pay ADDITIONAL 2-5 dollar to rent certain content. Some content can't even be rented and has to be bought. A lot of content can be rent for free with prime membership, however. My experience has been that half of the time I run into something that costs extra rental fee. Without prime membership, Amazon does offer a-la-carte pricing for certain content. Also, Amazon does not yet offer 1080p streaming - only 720p and 480p for now.

HULU offers a lot of free content, but sadly, Roku only includes the subscription-based Hulu Plus, which costs 8 dollar a month. Hulu has a lot of content not found on Netflix or VUDU, such as movies from the Criterion Collection. Like Amazon, Hulu also doesn't offer 1080p picture, only 720p and 480p.

TIME WARNER CABLE TV (TWC TV) lets you view live cable TV from Time Warner on Roku, but you need at least Standard TV subscription plan and Internet plan from Time Warner. Disappointingly, there is no program guide, no surround sound, no Time Warner On-Demand, and no closed captioning. The live TV stream has an almost ONE-MINUTE DELAY from live broadcast. There are also a web version and iOS app version of TWC TV, and they do have program guide, TW On-Demand, and closed captioning. TWC TV offers 300 channels, but only if you view it on your home network. Out of home, you can only view TEN channels. Those "anywhere, anytime" commercials from Time Warner are slightly misleading, since you cannot watch ANY CHANNEL anywhere anytime.

PLEX provides additional streaming channels that are not offered by Roku, such as channels for viewing TV episodes of ABC, NBC, CBS, and A&E programs. There is a hassle factor: you need to install the Plex server software on a PC or Mac in the same network as your Roku device. Plex can stream content from your PC or Mac (such as iTunes video and music) to your TV as well. It also lets you "queue" Youtube clips so you can watch them on Roku, but the queuing has to be done on a PC or Mac.

POPCORNFLIX represents the low end of what Roku can offer. It shows hundreds of free but lesser known movies with blurry, and often choppy picture. You also have to view commercials. Go to Popcornflix dot com to sample their offerings.

PICASA lets you use Roku to view your photo albums on Picasa (online photo service from Google). Opening the channel always give me a "API" error message. Picture quality is blurry. This channel is not developed by Google or Roku, but by someone named Chris Hoffman. I've tried to contact him but to no avail.

The FLICKR channel lets you view your Flickr photo albums on Roku. Sadly, if a photo is wider than 16:9, the aspect ratio of the TV screen, the photo is cropped on the left and right to fill the screen. This channel is not made by Yahoo (which owns Flickr), but by Chris Hoffman, also.

The COUCHY TV channel is also developed by Mr. Hoffman, and sadly, it has a problem too. This channel lets you view Dropbox photo and stream Dropbox video on your Roku. But for some reason, photos are shown at a much reduced size, and there is no way to enlarge. Video streaming is quite good, however. Mr. Hoffman, where are you?

REVISION3 is a free online video website and Roku channel that offers many independent web programs on technology and entertainment, such as "Tekzilla" and "HD Nation". The program content is excellent, but unfortunately, the Roku channel is poorly designed. It doesn't remember the show you have watched, and you always have to scroll through a long list of shows to see what you want.

So, in short, to use the Roku:

(1) It helps that you are technologically inclined.
(2) Expect mostly on-demand content and not a lot of live TV content, and thus Roku doesn't necessarily replace cable TV or antenna TV.
(3) Expect to sign up for a lot of services, and pay for some.
(4) Expect some Roku channels to be better designed and/or more functional than others.
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on April 5, 2013
OK, I am a certified Roku fan, prefer it to Apple, and mind you, between 2010 and now, I've bought 8 (eight) Rokus from amazon, and 1 from Roku directly, making it a total of 9. Yes, 4 of them were as gifts for friends. I've got the whole series, Roku HD, Roku XS, XDS, etc., and a unit each in three rooms. I am disclosing this just to make my point, my disappointment.
Until now, never had any problem with the others, they all worked well in the three different dwellings in different locations I lived in, easily connected to my home network.
I bought this latest unit because of the built-in ear-plug port, Which did not disappoint me, it works just fine. Super idea.
My problem is the remote's finicky connectivity. The unit, as had the other units, worked well right out of the box, connected like a breeze, and no problems for the first two weeks. And then the remote lost touch with the base. OK, I disconnected HDMI and power cables for a few minutes, re-connected, still cannot get the base unit to embrace :-) the remote. Checked the network, it's fine, so Internet is not problem. Live chat took too long to respond, I tried using my other remotes. 2 XS remote not compatible, but XD connected OK.
Next day I tried live chat on their site again, spent about 20 mins waiting, nice person came on, worked with me, taught me that I had not pressed the small connection button in the remote long enough, the button is accessible when you remove the battery house cover, and it's a small button, not easy to press it correctly with fingertip, need a longer nail or a pencil, anyhow, advice worked and reconnected with the base. No explanation why we lost connection though.
But so far so good.
One more week passes and we lose connection again. This time it takes way too many attempts within 48 hours to get the base and the unit to reconnect. Thank God for the older remote!
This time I did not even try to contact tech support. Felt so frustrated that I wanted to return the whole kit and kaboodle. Alas, yesterday was 1 month since I bought this from amazon, and i might be too late to return it.
On the other hand, I do like that it has the head phone port in the remote, you can listen to your movie without bothering anyone else, in my case, a terminally ill hubby who needs his snooze.
But there are other gadgets that you can buy if headphones are what you want.
In my opinion, this latest Roku needed more work before it was thrown out into the market.
My saving grace is that out of all the previous Rokus I bought, one of the remotes is compatible, but then again, as I said, using the older remote beats the purpose of having bought this one. Older remote does not have the earphone port...
So I rate it a 3 because of its finicky remote unit.
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on July 15, 2013
First Impressions of first Roku3:

Took exactly 20 minutes to set up, including the following steps:
-- unboxing
-- plug in AC adapter (wall wart, takes two or more spots on a power strip)
-- hook up to our HDTV with hdmi cable (cable is not included)
-- configure wi-fi (you'll need your wi-fi password) and wait briefly for it to self-test local network and internet connectivity
-- wait couple minutes for firmware update to download
-- follow onscreen instructions for device setup via ROKU website using code given on TV screen in big letters
-- go online to create a ROKU account, which *requires* full name, address, phone #, credit card #, and CV code from back of cc
-- creating an optional purchase PIN (which insures you or someone else won't accidentally incur charges to your credit card)
-- Voila! Ready to watch content! Entire setup was straightforward, easy.

To access specific channels such as Vimeo, Plex, Amazon etc you have to go online and punch in a five or six character code to initiate access to your accounts...takes about 2 minutes per account. It correctly showed my Vimeo watchlist, and correctly showed which episodes of Amazon Prime TV shows we'd already watched. Sweet. Initial buffering of TV shows was MUCH faster than using our Vizio's built-in "internet TV" Amazon app. It also correctly showed (with illustrated icons that look like a DVD cover) all the TV series we've been watching over the past several months, so I didn't have to re-look them up via search. Sweet again!

Speaking of search: When comparing reviews of media streaming boxes, I was concerned that the ROKU remote didn't have a qwerty keyboard like some others do...but in reality it only takes two to four characters to bring up the desired show in the search list that pops up, so I can now see why a qwerty keyboard isn't needed, and in fact would just make the remote clunkier.

I signed up for Plex (plexapp.com) which allows you to sling videos from the web to a viewing list on the ROKU. It worked with YouTube, and even on some other off the beaten path sites as well. You find content via the internet, then tell Plex (via bookmarklet) to save it to a watchlist to view whenever you want on the ROKU. It took about 2 to 5 seconds per selection to save to the queue. I can see how this will open up virtually unlimited new possibilities for non-traditional content to watch. No more watching crap during the summer programming doldrums because we're down to the dregs on TiVo. (We don't have cable, but do have TiVo for over-the-air recording of digital network content.)

Love the instant replay button (similar to TiVo's), which rewinds 7 seconds per click. Great for deciphering mumbly dialog. It also has an option for closed captioning (which is not necessarily available on all shows, but a nice option). Haven't yet tried the earbuds that plug into the remote for private screening, but they did ship with it in the box, and were one of the features that nudged me toward choosing the ROKU over other boxes.

The description says the ROKU 3 is capable of 1080p but ours was factory set at 720p. I discovered this by chance while exploring "settings" and manually changed it to 1080p. Our Vizio 58" HDTV has a cinematic 21:9 aspect ratio with 2560 x 1080p resolution; the ROKU performed flawlessly while streaming 21:9 content from Vimeo at full cinematic resolution (although I'm not sure I could tell the difference between 720p vs 1080p just by casual viewing...will have to look for a resolution test online somewhere?).

There's a long list of free channels from a wide range of genres, several of which I added to our channel lineup. I removed Netflix and others that we don't have subscriptions to (can add back anytime). We already have Amazon Prime, so now with all the new free channels I can't imagine needing any more content since we only watch TV 1-1/2 to 2 hours per day.

So my first impressions are enthusiastically positive! Fast & intuitive user interface, intuitive & uncluttered remote, fast buffering, no stutters. Light years better functionality/performance compared to using the apps that came with our "internet TV"! Already seems money well spent. Would definitely recommend!

DAY 3 UPDATE: Some channels/apps don't "predict" what you're trying to type in the search box...so the lack of a qwerty keyboard was bugging me more (Vimeo for example). So I downloaded a free Roku app for my iPod, which turns it into a Roku remote with full qwerty keyboard. One glitch: the delete/backspace function does NOT work from the iPod, so if I hit a wrong letter I have to grab the Roku remote to backspace.

Many of the "channels" are simply advertising, or come-ons, or bait & switches. Many of the fitness channels say "free" but after they get you to go to their website you learn that "free" only applies to the first week, or month, after which you must pay for a subscription. Some channels have only two or three podcast-like selections. Some channels are self serving, such as a book publisher whose channel consists of book reviews. Some channels have commercials, such as a 50-minute indie movie I scoped out which started with a 30 second ad; fast forward was disabled during the commercial of course, all I could do was mute my sound system and wait. But it said that was the only ad that would play, so I guess I could live with that. There was a paid "ad free" option for 99 cents...but by the time you messed around with paying, the ad would be over anyway. But it's hasta la vista to Crackle -- reMOVE channel -- because they INTERRUPT content with ads! TiVo and Amazon Prime have me spoiled I guess...haven't had to watch commercials for years.

After an hour or more of sifting through all the available channels, I was left feeling mildly annoyed by the typical non-transparency of come-ons, where they give you the impression it's free until the last possible minute, which wastes my time! I think Roku should require channels to be more forthcoming about fees in the initial description. Some channels do so, but not all.

I finally made it all the way through the 700+ "channels," of which I chose 40 to put in "My Channels."

On the positive side, many of the channels are completely legit and worthwhile and I very much look forward to watching them...it just takes some wading through &%$# to get to them.

Still a very solid 5 stars IMHO!

DAY 4 UPDATE: Well, sorry to say, but the bloom is definitely off the rose as far as the hundreds of "free" channels go. In fact, I'd give the overall channel selection zero stars. Lots of flash, little substance. Upon closer examination, I axed several more channels from "My Channels" today...I'm down to only a couple dozen left, of which only a handful are golden.

I'm still at 5 stars overall for the Roku 3 due to it's speed and intuitive user interface for streaming...plus the instant replay button, the Plex app queueing web videos (including YouTube) to our HDTV, much faster loading and nearly flawless streaming, a good Vimeo app, and faster/slicker access to Amazon Prime content.

SIX WEEK UPDATE: Even the PBS channel interrupts programs with un-skippable commercials! (Yes I realize there has to be revenue from *somewhere.*) Still lovin' the Roku 3 overall though, use it every evening. Have had to unplug base unit a couple of times to get it "unstuck," so be sure to mount it in a reasonably accessible location. TiVo is nipping at Roku's heels by partnering with more web-based content providers (especially for video podcasts), but Roku still beats TiVo for Amazon viewing because so far only paid Amazon content can be downloaded to TiVo, not free Prime content. Used and appreciated Roku 3's headphone-jack-in-the-remote feature during a recent infestation of visitors into our home.

NOVEMBER 2013 UPDATE: Just bought a SECOND Roku 3, rationalizing that having Roku in exercise room will pacify me into riding elliptical trainer longer and more often ;-) Location for second Roku is farther from router, and at first it was buffering 30 seconds to give me 10 seconds of video...unwatchable. So I tried Roku's online LiveChat support, and was pleasantly surprised that they were able to solve the problem! The key seemed to be updating the software, which can be done from a "secret screen" accessed like this:

<Using the Roku remote, press the HOME button 5 times, FORWARD button 3 times then REVERSE button 2 times.>

Choose the Update option. I didn't have to reload channels or anything, it just gave me snappier performance, and sped things up enough that even my farthest away Roku works great now (opposite end of house from router, about 60 feet).

LiveChat worked very well -- gave me time in between messages to go fiddle and test without pressure of someone waiting on a phone line. They said phone support is free for 90 days from purchase, LiveChat is free forever...another positive about Roku. I'm impressed!
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VINE VOICEon September 14, 2014
I have been using my Roku for one week today and I am entirely in love! This is one of the best entertainment products I've ever purchased. Here's why:

1) Very easy set up, with clear directions. But...you have to have the right infrastructure in place first. You need a digital television with an available HDMI port, a good quality HDMI cable to connect the TV to your Roku, and a fast internet connection. If you have a wireless network, the Roku will find it and run off the wireless. Just type in your network pass code when the Roku set up software prompts you. (You can hardwire the Roku to an internet router using an Ethernet cable if you don't have wireless.)

2) The Roku comes with everything you need to set up EXCEPT an HDMI cable. I bought an Amazon Basic cable with the Roku and it works well.

3) Roku's home screen has many programming services available that you can subscribe to for a modest monthly fee. Roku calls these "channels." I am an Amazon Prime member so there are many good movies and TV shows i can access for free as part of my membership.

4) Most people will find, however, that Prime doesn't have the best shows -- the stuff everyone talks about like Orange Is the New Black and Breaking Bad. For those you need to subscribe to another service. I recommend Netflix. For $7.99 a month you get a lot of good TV series, documentaries and first run films. Some people also like Hulu, but I have not found it necessary to subscribe to anything other than Prime and Netflix.

5) I have been paying Time Warner nearly $300 per month for cable and broadband internet and I got a Roku to test out streaming services. So far, it looks like I will be able to drop cable TV, but will keep the fast internet connection. This will lower my Time Warner bill considerably.

6) If you are considering dropping cable, you should also buy a good digital antenna and hook it up to your TV so you can get regular, over-the-air broadcast channels like ABC, CBS, etc. I have a decent directional antenna that sits on my TV cabinet and is only about 12 inches tall. No need to install an antenna or dish on your roof. A decent antenna costs around $50.

7) So the upshot is that between broadcast channels over the air and the Roku channels I have far more quality stuff to watch than I will ever have time for. And if you want to watch CNN, HBO, PBS etc you can either get them thru the Roku or watch them online on your computer screen.,

8) There are also a lot of good music services like Pandora available thru the Roku, some for free, so I've also ditched my satellite radio subscription.

9) My home wireless network is fast, but nothing special. I use a basic router from the internet service provider. The Roku easily interfaced with my network and seamlessly streams content without a glitch.

Bottom Line: for less than a third of the price of my monthly cable bill this Roku gives me great, top rated TV shows, lots of good movies and music. The thing to keep in mind, though, is that you need a good internet connection and a couple of subscription services to get the most out of the product. Even so, you can free yourself from cable and end up paying about $100 a YEAR for TV.
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on April 15, 2015
I have been double billed and then triple billed by Roku. I purchased a yearly subscription for a channel that was $79.99. Upon reviewing my bank statement I found two charges for 79.99 and a single charge for 7.99. I contacted Roku support and after 15 minutes of trying to explain the issue to the representative (she was dead set upon explaining the difference of a yearly subscription vs a monthly subscription) was told that they need 5-7 business days to "escalate your issue." On day 6 I opened a chat with their representative online and asked what was happening. I was told a supervisor would return my call by days end. They never called. On day 8 I again opened a chat online with them. I was told "the concerned parties" were looking into my problem and that I needed to wait more. They would need a couple more days. I explained that I wasn't interested in waiting any longer. I ended that chat and called. The representative said that in order to move any faster in this operation I needed to send in my bank statements. I became pretty distressed as I had to wonder what they had been doing for the last 8 days to resolve my issue? I requested they just refund my yearly charge as well as my monthly charge as the channel I purchased would still be functional because they had the original billed amount. I was put on hold many times and each time a representative came back I was told that my issue had taken a higher step in the escalating process. I explained that I was not willing to wait, After 27 minutes on hold a supervisor came onto the line. I was told that I had to screen shot my bank account proving that I had been double billed and then wait another couple of days for the billing team to review. On my original call to them they asked that I provide the order number for the channel's direct billed debit. I gave that to them. After signing into my Roku account and going to billing I could see where they had billed me monthly and yearly for the same channel. On the same date. As they were explaining to me that it took time to verify my accusations I asked why they hadn't AT LEAST given me the refund for what they could see in their own records. There was no answer. I was apologized to for my "apparent frustration". I am now waiting for resolution after emailing my bank statements. I also own Amazon Fire TV and Amazon stick. I had only gone to Roku for the Acorn channel that Amazon does not offer. If you do not need that channel I would order the Amazon version. It's very uncomfortable dealing with a company that has access to your bank card and not ready to correct their mistakes.
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on September 28, 2014
I love the Roku for the fact that it is the only thing I can watch that provides subtitles in this price range. Living in a senior apartment complex with no air conditioning means having to leave one's doors and windows open all night in the August heat and keeping the volume down. The design of our courtyard in the middle of all of the surrounding buildings where all of the front doors face inward causes the slightest conversation or sound to echo to everyone who has their door or window open. I much appreciated the subtitles available on my old Roku 2 XS, but it died on me in just less than 2 years. So, I looked for an updated version, and this is it.
The Roku 3 has one major improvement for me: earplugs that plug in directly to the remote! I can now enjoy listening to the sound, without having to wear my glasses to read the subtitles!! Although I still enjoy the subtitles, I am no longer dependent upon them to follow the story line. That alone is a huge plus for me. I purchased a 2 year warranty through Square Trade at the same time that I purchased this Roku 3, as it is more expensive, and I hope to get more life out of this one than I did from the Roku 2 XS. The only thing keeping Roku from getting 5 stars is that they STILL do not have an "on and off" switch so the little unit is constantly WARM even when it is not being used. It gets downright HOT when the TV is actually on. I don't see how that is good for an electronic device. Yes, I know that they tell you it is because they want it on to "update software" 24/7, but I'm not buying into that. Perhaps if this was a bigger unit it wouldn't have to run so hot all of the time. I have noticed that putting it on a stone coffee coaster keeps it somewhat cooler, but suspect that these little units fail so early because of the constant heat it is forced to endure. That's just a bad design to me.

One final note: It does come with everything you need in the box with the exception of the HDMI cable (or ethernet versions). Depending upon how close the HDMI port is on your TV and the Roku box, you may only need a 3' length version. Mine is only a foot and a half from each other, and the 6' Amazon Basic HDMI cable was quite long, although it worked beautifully. I've ordered a smaller version, BlueRigger High Speed HDMI Cable with Ethernet (3 Feet) - Supports 3D and Audio Return [Latest Version] and will leave a review for that once I receive it. Hope this helps other seniors to make an informed decision!
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on April 12, 2015
The Roku 3 is a really nice box, and although some people have had some issues with it interfering with their wireless broadband, I have to say that we haven't had that problem at all. (For the curious, we use an old D-Link DIR-655 router, which is positioned around forty feet from both the Roku and several other devices. None of the videos have dropped off in quality, and our network tests in the living room show the same numbers that they did before the Roku was introduced.)

What we have instead is lovely, high-quality streaming video in the living room, including a number of channels (such as DramaFever) that don't provide apps for the PS3 or WiiU that we could stream otherwise. In the case of DramaFever, this is great for us, as we're both fans of Korean drama and variety shows, so it's nice to be able to watch it without having to hook the TV up as a monitor.

There's one thing that's worth noting here, though, and it's not directly to do with Roku. The quality of the experience you get can vary with the channel that you use, as each channel's browsing and playback functionality is unique, and seemingly programmed by the channel. The Netflix, Hulu, and Amazon channels are clearly better engineered than the DramaFever channel, for example, and their bandwidth and consistency is better too. But this isn't Roku's doing -- most of the channels are excellent, and the Roku's streaming is superb, matching the PC and PS3 in every case where we've been able to directly compare the two. And although DramaFever's channel has more problems than the others, the playback is still generally excellent.

All in all, it's been a great purchase -- all we need now is for HBO to add their Live channel to the Roku!

(One comment worth mentioning, if you happen to have a DIR-655 router yourself, or have similar issues -- we had one issue where the DramaFever channel locked up, and when we disconnected the Roku to reset it, after restarting, it wouldn't connect back onto our network correctly. The error code reported was 014, and after reading around, I found that this was to do with the Roku being unable to Ping the router. I had to go into the router's settings, and then enable the WAN ping (but only for the IP address that I'd reserved for the router -- nothing else seems to need it). And since then, we've had no problems.)
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The reasons I chose the Roku 3 over the Roku 2 were fairly clear cut, but the choice wasn't as easy based upon the price difference. In the end, I chose a refurbished Roku 3 (90 day warranty and Prime shipping, 'like new' out of the box) to get the faster processor (5 times faster) and dual-band (2.5Ghz and 5Ghz) capabilities, with the perks of the newly acquired YouTube channel.

I own several Roku boxes, and for the past 5 years have used them to stream Netflix, Hulu Plus and Amazon videos. I find that the other channels (while nice to have) are not often used in my household, but since dropping cable and seeking streaming media to replace lost programming, I find I appreciate having so many viewing options.

I also own an Apple TV, which I like primarily for mirroring from my iPad to my HDTV. I also like that it has a YouTube channel, but both are infrequently used, albeit nice to have from time to time. The ability to look at my iTunes library; listen to music, view videos and photos, make this a great choice too. But if you find that most of your video rentals are through Amazon, you'd be disappointed in the Apple TV as Amazon isn't supported.

The Roku 3's remote and its need to be paired (mine did out of the box...) is odd, but if you read through the directions, it's simple to do. Just like the rest of the Roku set-up and use. I like the headphone jack addition to the remote, which makes it great for late night viewing.

WHY ROKU 3 WORKS FOR ME

The speed with which this one moves through the User Interface (UI) is remarkably fast compared to previous versions, and it's made it easier and more enjoyable to find what you want to watch. My other Roku's (LT, XS, HD, original), all lag way behind this one in terms of 'zippiness', but again, it's a processor thing.

The dual-band feature is a big deal. TIP: Leave one bandwidth free exclusively for streaming purposes in your home, and then put the Roku 3 on that band. Your viewing experience will be stable and speedy!

I have always loved Roku for its ability to stream content from Amazon, Netflix and Hulu Plus. I love them even more for the improvements they've made in the speed and features of the Roku 3, and the channels that they keep adding to improve the experience.

REGARDING GOING CABLE FREE WITH ROKU

If you have cut your ties with cable or satellite, or have a room that isn't wired for such, buy a Roku. We've done it along with the help of Mohu Leaf Ultimate Amplified Indoor HDTV Antenna (check out my video review of it via the product link) and Winegard FL5500A FlatWave Amplified Razor Thin HDTV Indoor Antenna over-air antennas.

Yes, there are some ongoing subscription costs for Netflix ($8 a mo), Hulu Plus ($8 a mo) and Amazon Prime ($79 a year). You also have to register the device, and may end up purchasing the occasional movie from RedBox, Amazon or others, and/or subscribing to a sports channel. Despite these costs, you'll still be saving hundreds per year, and regain your freedom from contracts.

NOTE: I have used my Blu-ray player to wirelessly access Netflix and Hulu Plus, but find that the Roku 3 is so much faster, it's well worth the money and lack of frustration. Apple TV is not as fast as the Roku 3 either, but it does have that 'mirroring' perk, and access to my iTunes library so it sits next to the Roku 3, but gets used much less often.

NOTE: Go into SETTINGS on your Roku once you get things set up. Change things related to sound (stereo sound by default, with surround as an option) and picture (720P by default, with an option for 1080P). You can also change how the homepage appears (which channels pop up), screensavers, etc... via this menu.

NOTE: Set-up will take about 30 minutes between entering in your password for your network, and having the Roku due an update and install channels. If you have Hulu Plus, Netflix, and Amazon, you'll also want to have your usernames and passwords handy to get those channels online. If you install a microSD card, the channel info will be stored on that card so that channels will load a smidge faster.

UPDATE: 2/1/14

I've enjoyed the 1st Season of Downton Abbey via Amazon Prime Instant Video on my refurbished Roku 3, and I have to say the speed of navigation is a noticable improvement over other models I've owned! Fast forwarding, picking up after a pause, and the initial streaming of the programming is all quick and enjoyable to use. NO buffering issues! Part of that is the ROKU and part of it is the channel that's streaming to it combined with your internet connection.

One issue that occurs occasionally is upon initially going to the home screen I don't always see the app pictures. I can navigate to hover over where I expect them to be and see text that says 'Netflix' or similar, and once I click I then see the app pictures. It only happens at first when I've switched from TV to the HDMI input of the Roku via my AV receiver. I don't know if it's the Roku, the HDMI cable or the AV receiver, but one day I'll troubleshoot it and perhaps figure it out. For now, it's a quirk and I just roll with it.

Overall, I'm extremely pleased with this ROKU version. Even resuming from buffering errors due to streaming from Netflix have been quickly resolved.

Be sure that during set-up you update your ROKU in Settings. That will give you the latest firmware and channel updates.

UPDATE: 4/23/14

I use this Roku every day to supplement my free, over-the-air TV in HD. Check out my book: Simple Guide to Over-the-Air Free TV, which I wrote in response to so many people asking me: "How do you do that?" when I told them I cut ties with my cable TV.
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