Roku 1 review: A solid Roku box with a limited audience

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CNET Editors' Rating

3.5 stars Very good
  • Overall: 7.3
  • Design: 7.0
  • Ecosystem: 8.0
  • Features: 7.0
  • Performance: 8.0
  • Value: 7.0
Reviewed:
Updated:

The Good The Roku 1 offers nearly the full Roku experience for $50. More than 1,200 channels are supported, including Netflix, Amazon Instant, HBO Go, Hulu Plus, Pandora, MLB.TV, Amazon Cloud Player, Vudu, and Showtime Anytime. It also has cross-platform search that scours several major TV and movie services to find content.

The Bad The new Roku Streaming Stick offers all the same functionality in an even smaller, more portable form factor. No dual-band wireless, which is available on every other Roku streaming box.

The Bottom Line The Roku 1 offers the same excellent experience that's found on other Roku boxes at a new low price, but there aren't many reasons to choose it over the new Streaming Stick or step-up Roku boxes.

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Editors' note: For a more recent comparison of Roku's current products, check out CNET's Roku buying guide.

The Roku 1 has always been a curious box in Roku's lineup. When it launched, it wasn't quite as cheap as the (soon-to-be-discontinued) Roku LT and it's also lacking a standout step-up feature, like the headphone jack remote found on the Roku 2 ($80). Other than the boost to 1080p output over the Roku LT (which isn't particularly noticeable on most TVs), the wasn't much of a reason to buy the Roku 1.

Now the Roku 1's appeal is even less clear now that the company has introduced the new Roku Streaming Stick ($50). Sure, the Roku 1's price has been reduced to $50, but the Streaming Stick offers all the same features in a smaller package, plus it includes an RF remote, which means you don't need to point it at the box for it to work.

Sarah Tew/CNET

There are two main reasons you might opt for the Roku 1 over the new Streaming Stick. One is universal remote support. Standard IR-based universal remote controls won't work with the Streaming Stick because it's hidden behind your TV, so the Roku 1's traditional box is an advantage in that case. (However, Logitech has said it may add the ability to control Roku boxes over Wi-Fi on products that use the Harmony Hub, such as the Harmony Smart Control.)

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  • Western Digital WD TV Media Player (2014)

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    This set-top box can play virtually every file type and it does it well.

 

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Where to Buy

Roku 1

Part Number: ROKU1
Pricing is currently unavailable.

Quick Specifications See All

  • Regional specs shown for US. AU specs are unavailable.

  • Color black
  • Functions digital multimedia receiver
  • Sound Output Mode stereo