Sure, it sounds like a type of noodle, but the Roku is in fact one of the most compact and best-reviewed streaming video players currently on the market. Oh, and now it comes with 1080p capabilities.
The tiny (5x5x2”) player connects to any television and uses a viewer’s high-speed Internet connection to wirelessly stream video from a variety of sources directly to the TV.
Roku’s newest model, the Roku XD, is able to stream 1080p video to any television capable of supporting it and when we talk about it coming from a variety of sources, we really mean it.
In addition to NetFlix, HuluPlus and Pandora Internet Radio and Amazon Video, the Roku is also able to stream MLB.com and MP3tunes. For consumers, this means one hell of a lot of television, movies and music at their fingertips, and all in a package that can be put just about anywhere and set up in less than 5 minutes.
Currently, the Roku is available at Amazon for $79.99 and can still be shipped before the madness of Christmas descends upon us.
Taking a gander at Amazon, it appears that the Roku is faring well in the ratings department, with an overall score of 4 stars, and 4 and half stars for both ease of use and installation simplicity.
Other streaming video choices such as the Boxee by D-Link share a similar function to the Roku, but don’t seem to support quite as many channels or be as well reviewed.
As streaming video replaces the standard “TV with commercials” and even PVR technology, consumers are beginning to demand a higher level of service and accessibility to their favorite channels, and options like the Roku seek to fill this niche.
Though the Roku XD is well-rated, it isn’t the only streaming fish in the digital ocean, and there are a number of things that consumers would do well to consider before purchasing any streaming video option.
1) What does it play?
- If you want NetFlix, make sure it actually carries the service before laying down your money.
2) What resolutions can it display?
- Not all players can display 1080p, regardless of the resolutions the TV is capable of. Know the specs before you buy.
3) What does it look like?
- Most of these systems are quite compact, but the Boxee, for example, has a very distinct shape. Ensure that the one you buy is actually one you’d like to see in your home over the course of years.
The Roku comes with both standard component and HDMI ports, but doesn’t include either of the cables, and will work with either a wired or wireless Internet connection.
For anyone looking to break out of the television and satellite cycle this Christmas, the Roku XD may be a viable and affordable alternative.