Since my family cut the cord a few months ago, we’ve been looking for solutions for our TV programming. I have an Apple TV, a Samsung SmartTV and a Sony Blu-Ray player that can all do Netflix and Amazon Prime. However, none of these solutions do Internet enabled TV well. Then, I met Roku 3.
The Roku 3 is a small box that’s just a little bigger of a deck of cards. It’s sleek, black and beautiful and comes with a smartly designed remote, power cord and tiny quick start guide in the minimal packaging. Roku deserves a kudos for environmentally friendly packaging.
Once you unpack the Roku 3 and hook it up to your TV via HDMI cable you now have access to virtually every online video service including Netflix, Amazon Instant, Vudu, HBO Go, Hulu Plus and hundreds of other channels. In addition to video services, there are awesome audio channels including Pandora, Spotify, Rdio and TuneIn radio – amongst others.
So, pretty much whatever your favorite source of video or music is online, you can access it through Roku’s expansive channel lineup.
Setting Roku up to access your Netflix account Amazon is as simple as following the on-screen instructions for each channel. I spent about 15 minutes setting up my channels…your experience will be longer or fewer depending on what channels you want to configure.
The biggest asset that Roku has is that it’s so easy to use. No offense Mom, but if I was asked by you which streamer to buy, the Roku 3 would be the easy choice. Its use of channels based on content from NASA TV to PBS is a no brainer.
My favorite feature on the Roku 3 is the *amazing* search capability. Because Roku knows what services you have access to, you can search in one place to get all the results and know where to go. To illustrate the point, let’s consider the popular show Downton Abbey. At the time of writing this article, Seasons 1 and 2 are available on Netflix and Amazon. However, Season 3 is available only on Amazon Instant. So, if I search for Downton Abbey on my Roku 3, it shows this and let’s me choose accordingly.
If my daughter wants to watch Dora..I don’t have to launch the Netflix channel and the Amazon channel to search. I go to search on the Roku 3 and see that Dora the Explorer is available only on Amazon. Easy peasy.
Headphone jack — in the remote!
Here’s another touch that Roku has thought of that makes it unique. The cool remote (that’s Bluetooth, so you don’t have to point it at the actual Roku to use…genius!) also features a headphone jack.
In the Roku 3 retail package is a pair of stylish purple headphones, but you can plug in any headphones and watch shows at any volume without waking your kids (or parents!).
This is a genius touch that is unique only to Roku.
HD Video that impresses
I watch a lot of online video. From kids shows that my daughter loves to me watching movies on Netflix. The Roku 3 impresses with its video quality because it can HD video over ethernet, 802.11G and even the latest 802.11N networks – this little box is a streaming machine.
I highly recommend the Roku 3, which is priced at a very reasonable $99. No matter what online service you like to stream from, Roku will be your best friend. At that price point, I’d consider buying 2 for your house to put in every room that you want to watch videos.