Roku Review September 17, 2012
Adds an enhanced remote for playing games, plus extra connectivity options.
Pros: Easy to set up, Compact, High quality picture
Cons: Advertisements, Need a credit card
Best Uses: Primary TV
Describe Yourself: Early adopter, Technophile, Power User
The Roku does a few things well:
* Plays Netflix
* Plays Amazon streaming video
For $99, that's a reasonable deal.
Unfortunately, the Roku is trying to be more than a simple streaming player and that makes it worse device.
First, there are channels you can't make go away. Dudes, I bought this device and you're forcing me to see promoted channels, etc. No way. I'd gladly pay an extra $25 for the "non-promoted" Roku where I got to choose the channels on the home screen, I got to choose the order of the channels, and there was no advertising.
Did I mention that every time I see the home screen, there's an advertisement? That's seriously sub-optimal. I bought the Roku (and an Apple TV), because I'm happy to pay for content, but I get to choose when I view the content and I trade my payment for the content for the absence of advertising.
And, in order to use the Roku, you have to connect it with a credit card or other payment source. Dudes, I already paid you for the box. It would be much better to have an option for "stand alone" service where I didn't need to register with Roku, give them payment information, or anything else... just let me stream my Netflix and Amazon.
They have a channel store, but the onscreen version of the channel store has a weak UI and the web version is not much better. The best place to see Roku channels is from various web sites that link to the magic code for the channels.
The channels and apps are not great. I wanted a tide app, but the app doesn't work as a screen saver (I live near the ocean and having a screen saver with the tides on it would be cool.) Contrast this with the dozen or so tide apps for the iPhone and iPad.
There's no last.fm. The best music channel is Mog and the UI for Mog is horrid.
So, if you're looking for a device to stream a couple of services, the Roku does the job. If you're looking for no advertising, you're out of luck. If you're expecting quality apps and channels outside the top-tier, you're out of luck.