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Roku 3: The king of media streaming devices

26 Nov

Roku-3Continuing along with this week’s Black Friday gadget special, today we look at the king of media streaming devices: the Roku 3. Yes, the Apple TV is arguably better for people who are deeply hooked into Apple’s various gadgets, but Roku’s flagship product is the best alternative for those who aren’t, or for those who are looking for a broader experience.

The Roku 3 beams a wide assortment of internet channels to your TV, from the quintessential – like MLB.TV and Netflix, which is the company that ultimately spun off Roku – to the obscure, such as Kids Recipes and Autism Live. All told, about 500 channels are available in Canada.

While smart TVs are quickly duplicating many of the same features that media streaming devices such as Roku deliver, the specialized gadgets still hold a few advantages. For one, Roku has tons more channels, with the only notable one lacking being YouTube. The other bonus is that the devices are quite inexpensive: in Canada the Roku 3 goes for $109, the Roku 2 for $89 and the Roku 1 for $69.

The Roku 3 has a few advantages over its cheaper cousins. For one, it has a faster processor and an ethernet port, microUSB card slot and USB port. If the box’s channels don’t have your entertainment options covered, you can easily copy video onto a USB stick and plug it in, with a number of channels/apps such as Plex also helping with streaming from a computer. It also has a motion-sensing remote control so you can play Wii-like games such as Angry Birds on your TV.

Most importantly, the Roku 3 (as well as the Roku 2) has an earphone jack in its remote control, which is handy for listening to stuff loudly without waking up the whole house.

Roku’s entire lineup, including its older boxes, is benefiting from a new interface. Rather than the single horizontal line of channels found in the previous interface, the look is now grid-like, with much more information on screen at once. You can see a bunch of channels at once now, but the overall look is still nice and simple. It’s a huge step up that’s much more pleasant – and faster – to use.

At $69, the Roku 1 is amazingly cheap – almost in Google Chromecast territory (it’s still not available in Canada) – but the Roku 3 really isn’t all that expensive in comparison. At $109, it’s still a low price to pay to turn any TV into a smart TV.

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6 Comments

Posted by on November 26, 2013 in apple, roku

 

6 responses to “Roku 3: The king of media streaming devices

  1. Beans

    November 26, 2013 at 12:05 am

    Why doesn’t this device pick up youtube?

     
  2. randifer

    November 26, 2013 at 12:56 am

    It may not do YouTube, but it does do livestream.com which is great for my gang. I’ve been doing live web streaming of US based curling… (No, it’s not the Skins games, or Roar of the Rings, but in the US it is about as good as folks get to see for US based teams, and Livestream was a very good price vs service (yes youtube is starting to offer free streaming, but it’s still beta for the moment.

    Roku decided to make Livestream a basis for something like Indie TV. and you can subscribe to various Livestream channels from the roku…

    Question though. How do all these high bandwidth devices sit with the bandwidth caps from most of the ISP’s Also, would someone such as Bell, Rogers, etc.. exercise “Net Neutrality” when they are in effect providing the platform that will eat into their cable content and offerings? or will they throttle stuff coming through as a stream??

     
  3. Michael Elling (@Infostack)

    November 26, 2013 at 5:59 am

    Peter, you mention Roku was spun off from Netflix. When did that occur and what were Netflix’ reasons? Michael

     
    • Peter Nowak

      November 26, 2013 at 8:52 am

      Looks like it was around 2007. Netflix decided against going into the hardware business: http://www.bloomberg.com/apps/news?pid=newsarchive&sid=aK2._zQizDac

       
      • Michael Elling (@Infostack)

        November 26, 2013 at 9:02 am

        Thanks. Smart move. If only rest of service provider world (fixed and mobile) would understand the horizontal model that leads to vertically complete solutions and ecosystems with high ROI. Netflix is a company that has proven time and time again that they “get” the future.

         
  4. Seppo

    November 26, 2013 at 9:28 am

    $69 is not bad. I am still cheaper than that, hooking up an old spare laptop to the TV in the living room. With a remote wireless keyboard (keyboard and mouse combo) I have full PC functionality, and Streaming Guide and Netflix have enough content to keep the family entertained on the cheap.

    As someone mentioned above, the remaining bottleneck is the data caps, 80GB is barely enough for our family.

     
 
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