Roku 2 XS Streaming Player–Videos

Posted on January 27, 2013. Filed under: Blogroll, Communications, Economics, Life, Links, media, People, Philosophy, Rants, Raves, Video, Wisdom | Tags: , , , , , , , , |







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REVIEW: The Roku 3 Blows Away The Apple TV

Business InsiderBy Steve Kovach | Business Insider – 2 hours 33 minutes ago

There’s no shortage of devices with so-called smart TV functions.

You have the Apple TV that connects to your iTunes content. The Boxee that lets you record network TV on a virtual online DVR. TV makers like Samsung and LG have streaming apps built directly into their web-connected TV sets. And so on.

But at their core, none of these devices revolutionize television the way many are hoping Apple will if it ever launches its rumored television set. Most of these gadgets, the current Apple TV box included, function largely the same. You get access to the standard library of streaming services like Netflix and Hulu, plus the option to buy and rent movies and TV shows.

That’s about it.

What’s most important in today’s streaming devices is the interface, an interface that lets you find what you want to watch as quickly as possibly and jump in. You also need plenty of good content to enjoy.

The newest box from Roku, the Roku 3, achieves both these things better than any other device I’ve used, making the $99.99 streaming box  the best you can buy today.


New LookThe Roku 3 interface is a complete overhaul of the last one, and it’s so good I’m going to have trouble going back to my clunky Apple TV.

Unlike the Apple TV which can make you click through as many as four or five menus before you’re able to jump into the thing you want to watch, every detail in the Roku 3’s user interface is designed to minimize your effort.

Scrolling vertically lets you cycle through apps or menu options in an infinite loop so there’s no need to navigate back to the top of a list. (If you’ve used Apple TV’s menus before, you know this can be a pain.)  Scrolling horizontally lets you dive deeper into your selection, meaning you can launch the app you want or get more information on a specific piece of content. These are tiny details, but they feel so natural that the interface almost disappears. I haven’t seen anyone pull that off on the television screen yet.


But the best feature by a longshot is search, which lets you look up content by actor, director, title, etc. and provides you with a list of all streaming sources you can watch the video on. For example, a search for “South Park” gives you the option to stream the show on Netflix, Hulu, or purchase individual episodes.

There’s no clicking through endless menus and search options. There’s no hoping what you want to watch is on Hulu or Netflix or Amazon or whatever else before you search that individual app. You just search for the stuff you want and the Roku finds it for you wherever it lives. It’s such an essential and simple feature that I’m shocked it’s not standard on all streaming devices by now.

Content SelectionBecause Roku is open to third-party developers, you have a much larger content selection than you get on Apple TV. The Roku has all the standard stuff Apple TV has like Netflix, Hulu, and sports services like But you also get a lot of stuff the Apple TV doesn’t have yet like HBO GO, Amazon Instant, Spotify, and Pandora.

Plus there are several casual games like Angry Birds and other streaming video apps to choose from in Roku’s virtual store.

If you want to buy or rent videos, there’s Vudu, a virtual store with a selection about as good as Apple’s. You can stream purchased videos directly to your Roku and they remain tied to your account so you can access them whenever you want. It also has several shows available the day after the air, which can come in handy for those who no longer subscribe to cable.

That was my biggest problem with the Roku 3. Over the years I’ve purchased a ton of movies and TV shows through iTunes, meaning I’m already locked into Apple’s system. The Roku 3 is so good I regret doing that. If you’re like me, you’ll have to repurchase a lot of your favorite content through Vudu if you decide to switch to the Roku.


Yes, Apple TV is slowly letting more apps onto its platform. Hulu Plus finally got the green light last year. HBO GO is reportedly coming soon and you can now use AirPlay to beam videos from the the iPhone or iPad version to your Apple TV. And there’s increased talk that Apple will open Apple TV to third-party developers soon, meaning even more content could be on the way.

But as it stands now, Roku simply offers you more content options for the same price as the Apple TV.

The HardwareThe Roku 3 does have a few hardware advances worth mentioning, especially when it comes to the remote control. In fact, the remote is probably the biggest hardware innovation the Roku 3 offers: a headphone jack on the side that automatically mutes your TV and pumps the audio to your headphones instead.

It’s perfect if you want to watch TV in bed without disturbing your partner. It’s perfect if you only have one TV and want to share the living room with someone who’d rather be reading instead of listening to some gory “Game of Thrones” battle. Like the user interface, the headphone jack is a simple detail that was perfectly executed and solves a common annoyance on our TVs that no one has really tried to tackle before. If you’ve ever had to compete for the sound waves in your living room, you know what I’m talking about.

The remote also has built-in motion controls for gaming, sort of like the remote on the Wii video game console. But I found it’s not as accurate as the remote on the Wii. When playing Angry Birds Space, for example, the cursor didn’t always match up perfectly to where I pointed the remote, so I had to keep resetting the position to match what I was seeing on the screen. It was a minor annoyance, but definitely worth noting in case you think the Roku would make a good gaming machine.

Other than the remote, there’s not much different with the Roku 3. It looks very similar to the last version, a small squarish device that can fit in the palm of your hand. But it does has a faster processor so apps and games run slightly smoother than before. It also has a dual-band WiFi chip for faster wireless speeds, but you’ll need a special router to take advantage of that. (I think you’re better off plugging the Ethernet cable directly into the Roku if you can.)

Finally, there’s a USB port so you can plug in an external hard drive or thumb drive and play video files that you’ve made yourself or downloaded from somewhere else.

The new hardware features are nice, but there’s no need to upgrade from the second-generation Roku unless you really, really want that new remote with the headphone jack. All those great software features I mentioned? You’ll get them in a software update soon if you haven’t already.

If you don’t have a Roku, the hardware upgrades are definitely more versatile than what you get with the Apple TV.

ConclusionAs I said in the intro, no streaming box can offer you some sort of revolution in web-based video watching. But the Roku is the best at working with what is out there already. You get access to more streaming services and content than the Apple TV has, plus an incredible interface that helps you find what you want better than anything else out there.

It’s that good.

Unless you already have a lot of content purchased through iTunes, the Roku 3 is the best choice.


“…Roku (IPA: /ˈɹoku/ pronounced “roh koo”)[2] is an American, privately held, consumer electronics company that sells home digital media products. The company is based in Saratoga, California.[3] Roku manufactures a variety of digital media receivers that allow customers to access internet streamed video or audio services through televisions. This includes subscription-based services as well as services that are available through the receiver free of charge.

Company profile

The company was founded in October 2002, by ReplayTV founder Anthony Wood. Roku means “six” in Japanese, a reference to the six companies Wood has launched.

Legacy products

Roku’s consumer products line-up included:

  • Roku SoundBridge, a network music player
  • SoundBridge Radio, a network music player with built-in speakers and subwoofer, AM‑FM receiver, volume-ramping alarm clock, preset buttons, SD slot and headphone jack
  • PhotoBridge HD1000, a system for displaying images on a high-definition television, as well as streaming MPEG video. The unit has four card readers on the front and can read from Memory Stick, MultiMediaCard, SD Memory Card, SmartMedia Card, CompactFlash Card type II.

Roku also produced:

  • the BrightSign solid-state media player, designed to drive HD displays in a retail environment.

Roku’s audio products did not use internal storage but rely on Wi-Fi or Ethernet to stream digital audio over a network, either from Internet radio or a computer attached to the same network. Roku introduced the Radio Roku Internet radio directory in August 2007. Radio Roku provides a directory of Internet stations, accessible from a web browser or from SoundBridge players.

Digital video player

On May 20, 2008, Roku announced the first Netflix Internet video streaming receiver box, the Roku DVP. The NXP-powered device runs Linux.[4]

The XD/S has HDMI and component output for high-definition video on new and older televisions.

Prior to Autumn 2010, three versions of the Roku DVP were available: the Roku SD, HD, and HD-XR.[5] The Roku SD only streams standard definition (SD) content.[6] The Roku HD streams both SD and HD (720p) content.[7] The Roku SD and HD both have an Ethernet connection and built in 802.11g Wi‑Fi compatible with wireless B, G, and N routers.[8] Their third box was the Roku HD-XR, which streams both SD and HD (720p and 1080p) content, has built in dual-band 802.11n WiFi support, and has a USB port on the back.[9]

In 2010, Roku revamped its lineup of devices: the revised HD is the basic model of the line, offering 720p resolution, 802.11g WiFi reception (as well as an Ethernet connection), and an HDMI output. The middle of the line, the XD, adds 1080p resolution (if channel programmers provide it), an enhanced remote with replay capabilities, and single-band wireless N WiFi. The flagship XD|S offers the same feature set as the XD but also adds component video and optical audio outputs, dual-band wireless N, and a USB port for playing videos, photos, and music (USB Playback Support is available as of February 1, 2011).[10][11]

On July 20, 2011, Roku updated its product lineup with three new boxes, each in the same price range as before. However, the Ethernet connection and remote with motion control for games are available only on the XS model.[12][13] The Roku Game Remote uses Hillcrest Labs’ Freespace motion control technology, so users can control games with natural gestures.[14] The Netflix application was revamped for the Roku 2 HD, Roku 2 XD and Roku 2 XS. The current models now provide the option of subtitles, when the program provides this aid.[15]

On October 29, 2012, the feature “Roku Search” was added. This feature allows users to search movie and TV show titles, actors and directors for multiple services on Roku such as Netflix, Amazon Instant Video and HBO Go. The feature is only available on Roku 2, Roku Streaming Stick, Roku LT and HD, due to technical constraints on earlier models.[16]

Feature comparison

Model Intro­duced Dis­con­tin­ued Video Outputs Video Resolutions Op­ti­cal Au­dio Out Network USB Blue­tooth​‡ Pro­cess­or Chan­nel Mem­o­ry Ex­pan­sion mi­cro­SD card
Com­pos­ite, S-​Vid­e­o Com­pon­ent, HDMI 480i / 480p 720p / 1080p Eth­er­net 802.11 Wi­re­less
First Generation
Roku DVP (N1000) May 2008 Oct 2009 Both Both Both 720p Yes Yes b/g No No PNX­8935 400 MHz​[17][18][19][20] 64 MiB[20] No
Roku SD (N1050) Oct 2009 Sep 2010 Com­pos­ite Nei­ther 480i Nei­ther No Yes b/g No No PNX­8935 400 MHz​[20][21] 64 MiB[20] No
Roku HD (N1100) Nov 2009 Sep 2010 Both Both Both 720p Yes Yes b/g No No PNX­8935 400 MHz​[20][21] 64 MiB[20] No
Roku HD-XR (N1101) Oct 2009 Sep 2010 Both Both Both Both Yes Yes a/b/g/n dual-​band Yes No PNX­8935 400 MHz​[20][21] 256 MiB[20] No
Roku HD (2000C) Sep 2010 Jul 2011 Com­pos­ite HDMI Both 720p No Yes b/g No No PNX­8935 400 MHz​[20] 64 MiB[20] No
Roku XD (2050N, 2050X) Sep 2010 Jul 2011 Com­pos­ite HDMI Both Both No Yes b/g/n No No PNX­8935 400 MHz​[20][22] 64 MiB[20] No
Roku XDS (2100X) Sep 2010 Jul 2011 Com­pos­ite Both​† Both Both Yes Yes a/b/g/n dual-​band Yes No PNX­8935 400 MHz​[19][20][23] 256 MiB[20] No
Second Generation
Roku LT (2400X, 2450X) Nov 2011 Com­pos­ite HDMI Both 720p No No b/g/n No No BCM­2835 400 MHz​[24][20] 256 MiB[20] No
Roku HD (2500X) Apr 2012 Com­pos­ite HDMI Both 720p No No b/g/n No No BCM­7208 400 MHz​[25] 256 MiB[25] No
Roku 2 HD (3000X) Jul 2011 Apr 2012 Com­pos­ite HDMI Both 720p No No b/g/n No Yes BCM­2835 600 MHz​[20][26] 256 MiB[20] Yes
Roku 2 XD (3050X) Jul 2011 Com­pos­ite HDMI Both Both No No b/g/n No Yes BCM­2835 600 MHz​[20][26] 256 MiB[20] Yes
Roku 2 XS (3100X) Jul 2011 Com­pos­ite HDMI Both Both No Yes b/g/n Yes Yes BCM­2835 600 MHz​[20][26][27] 256 MiB[20] Yes
Roku Stream­ing Stick (3400X) Oct 2012 Nei­ther MHL only 480p Both No No b/g/n dual-​band No Yes BCM­2835 600 MHz​[20][26] 256 MiB[20] No
  • ‡ The Bluetooth module is for the game remote.
  • † The com­pon­ent video connector on the Roku XDS (2100X) is a nonstandard 3.5mm connector and a proprietary adapter cable, which is sold separately, is effectively required to use this.[28]

Also see Roku’s product comparison table.

 Online Roku channels

Content on the Roku DVP is provided by Roku partners, and are identified using the “channel” vernacular. Each separate channel supports content from one partner though some content partners have more than one channel. Users can add or remove different channels from the Roku Channel Store. In May 2011, Roku stated the DVP had over one million viewers and had delivered 15 million channel downloads. Both on-demand content and live streaming are supported by the devices. For live TV streams, Roku supports Apple HLS (HTTP Live Streaming) adaptive streaming technology. The primary movie channels which are available on Roku in the U.S. market are suppressed in Canada.

Service creation for Roku Player

The Roku is an open-platform device with a freely available SDK that enables anyone to create new channels.[29] The channels are written in a Roku-specific language called BrightScript, a scripting language the company calls “similar to Visual Basic”.[30]

Developers who wish to test their channels before a general release, or who wish to limit viewership, can create “private” channels that require a code be entered by the user in the account page of the Roku website. These private channels, which are not part of the official Roku Channel Store, are not reviewed or approved by Roku.[31]

There is a NDK (Native Developer Kit) available, though it has added restrictions – see Roku developer question “How do I develop games for Roku?”[30]

Services listing

Partial list of services currently available through the Roku Channel Store.[32][33]

Free channels

  • Air 1
  • Amazing Facts
  • Amazon Cloud Player†
  • Amateurlogic
  • Angie’s List
  • Animoto
  • The Autism Channel
  • Blastro
  • blinkx
  • blubrry
  • Bridges TV
  • BYUtv
  • CatholicTV
  • CBN TV
  • CDNTwo
  • CNBC Real-Time
  • Comic Vine
  • Crackle
  • Crunchyroll
  • Daystar Television Network
  • Democracy Now!
  • Drive-In Classics
  • Cowboy Classics
  • EWTN (6 channel multiplex)
  • Euronews
  • Fandango
  • Flickr
  • Flixster
  • Flixsie
  • Fox Business
  • Fox News Channel
  • Free Speech TV
  • Giant Bomb
  • Gospel Broadcasting Network
  • Havoc Television
  • HisChannel
  • The Highway Girl
  • HuffPost Live
  • Jewelry Television
  • Jewish Life Television
  • KLAS-TV News
  • K-LOVE Radio
  • Kung Fu Theater
  • Liberty Bell Radio
  • Life+Health Network
  • Liquidation Channel
  • Moonlight Movies
  • Mormon Channel
  • Moviefone
  • MusiClouds[35]
  • NBC News
  • Newgrounds
  • NRA Life of Duty
  • Omniverse TV
  • PEBN
  • Picasa
  • Plex
  • Popcornflix
  • PopSugar
  • Positive Peak Radio & TV
  • Proud Television
  • Radio Paradise
  • Radio Time
  • Revision3
  • Roku Newscaster
  • Roku Search†
  • Roxwel
  • Sail TV
  • Screened
  • SEC Digital Network
  • ShopNBC
  • SHOUTcast Radio
  • Slacker
  • Smithsonian Channel
  • SnagFilms
  • Spacevidcast
  • Streamin’ Garage
  • StuffWeLike
  • Sunimi
  • Syfy (clips only)
  • Tagesschau (Germany)
  • TED Talks
  • Tested
  • TomorrowsWorld[36]
  • TBN (8 channel multiplex)
  • TWiT Netcast Network
  • United States Hockey League
  • Vevo†
  • Vimeo
  • Wall Street Journal Live
  • Weather Underground
  • WISC News
  • WTHR News[37]

Channels with both free and premium programming

  • Classical TV[38]
  • Dream TV
  • EZTakes
  • Live365
  • MHz Networks
  • MP3tunes
  • Pandora Radio
  • Pub-D-Hub Classics

 Premium channels

  • 3ABN (9 channel multiplex)
  • Amazon Instant Video (U.S.only)
  • Ameba (U.S. and Canada only)
  • BabyFirstTV
  • TheBlazeTV
  • ChannelLive.TV
  • DishWorld
  • Epix ♦
  • Fandor[39]
  • FlixFling (U.S. and Canada)
  • Flix Universe
  • HBO Go ♦
  • Hulu Plus (U.S. only)
  • Hope Channel (5 channel multiplex)
  • Major League Soccer
  • Midwest Cage Championship (MCC)
  • MLB.TV
  • Mobile Tribe
  • MOG
  • Movie Vault
  • MyTV (Arabic)
  • Netflix (U.S. and UK only)
  • NBA League Pass
  • NHL Gamecenter Live
  • Pets.TV
  • RaceFansTV
  • Rdio (U.S. and Canada only)
  • Skitter TV
  • SpiritClips from Hallmark [40]
  • SportSkool (Multiple channels)
  • Spotify†(Coming soon to Roku LT and HD models)
  • UFC
  • Wealth TV
  • Weather4Us
  • Weiss Money Network
  • Wieder.TV (German)
  • Vudu†


  • 5000†
  • Angry Birds (including special editions)†
  • Blackjack
  • Castle Warriors†
  • Danger Derby†
  • Downhill Bowling 2†
  • Dracula’s Coffin†
  • Fieldrunners†
  • Four in a Row
  • Frisbee Forever†
  • Galaga†
  • Jeopardy!†
  • Letter Mix
  • Letter Mix-KJ
  • Mah jongg
  • Mahjong Fruits†
  • Marble Puzzle
  • Mouse About†
  • Muffin Knight†
  • Pac-Man Championship Edition†
  • Reversi
  • Rogue†
  • Rope Rescue†
  • Storm in a Tea Cup†
  • Super Crossfire†
  • Super Stickman Golf†
  • Texas hold ’em
  • Video Poker
  • Wheel of Fortune†
  • You Don’t Know Jack†

♦: Currently only available to cable and satellite subscribers of this service, no stand alone subscription is available. †: Only available on Roku 2, Roku Streaming Stick, Roku LT and HD models

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