This review is for the Roku 2 XS. Roku offers other device options, which are available with different features. Visit shop.roku.com to find the device that best suits your needs.
Until Christmas, I had never heard of a Roku. That was when I got a tour of my dad’s Roku (which kind of confused me–I got that he was excited about his sort-of-new toy, but he was really going in depth to be just showing it off). Later that weekend, when I opened the box to my very own Roku 2 XS, I totally got why he showed me all those features.
Now, thanks to my dad and stepmom, I no longer have to use this…
To stream video on this:
(Seriously, though, don’t all those cords look beastly? And don’t get me started on how long my computer takes to boot up.)
Roku stays put. No more plugging and unpluging the VGA cord from my computer and TV. No more sound cord to deal with. Just a little black box. Simple.
Roku comes standard with a video cord, but Josh and I plugged it into the TV using an HDMI cable instead. With the standard video cord, we had problems buffering some shows on Netflix, and the HDMI cable solved that.
Roku also comes with a little remote. I like it (I find it comfortable and easy to use), but not everyone is a fan. When you download the Roku app (available in iTunes or Google Play), you can program a remote to sync with your device, allowing you to use your smartphone or tablet as a remote for your Roku (though I imagine the phone is much less awkward than the tablet remote).
There’s even a USB port on the side, where you can plug in and watch digital copies of movies you own, listen to music or view your photos.
My initial excitement over my new Roku came from a want to easily stream Netflix, but Roku can do so much more. If you prefer Amazon, you can stream Amazon Instant Video movies and shows to your TV too. Or you can stream from Hulu Plus. Or Crackle, Vudu, Vevo, HBO GO, Epix… the list goes on.
Some websites have jumped on board too. You can watch cooking videos from allrecipes.com—convenient if you have a TV located close to your kitchen. And some fitness subscription sites like Gaiam and YogaVibes give users unlimited access to workout videos via Roku.
Though Roku is built for streaming video, it can bring other forms of entertainment to your TV as well. In fact, one of my favorite ways to use my Roku is for streaming music from Pandora—perfect for when I’m cleaning up around the apartment or chilling with friends (kidding—no one shares my taste in music).
Roku also acts as a sort of gaming device. Much like Wii, Roku allows the player to interact with the screen by using the remote, which also acts as a mouse at times. However, I haven’t had much experience playing games on my Roku (I spent maybe five minutes testing out the Angry Birds game that came preloaded on it). Honestly, my fascination comes from streaming shows and movies.
So far, I’m completely loving my Roku. Since adding the HDMI cable, I’ve had no complaints. (Josh’s only complaint has been that the TV repeatedly switches to the video setting for Roku whenever he turns on the TV, which is frustrating when he wants to play his Playstation instead. But I’m pretty sure that’s an issue with my TV, not Roku.)
Now the only problem is I only have one! (Gosh, I’d love to have a Roku in the bedroom too. One day.)
I was not reimbursed or rewarded in any way for this review. These thoughts and comments are my own and have no reflection on Roku, its employees or its affiliates.