Editors' note: For a more recent comparison of Roku's current products, check out CNET's Roku buying guide.
Here's the pitch for the Roku 2: it has nearly everything you love about the headphone jack, for $20 cheaper., including the remote with a
It's a tempting offer. You don't get geek-friendly extras like the SD card slot, Ethernet jack, or the USB port, but those seldom-used features aren't worth the extra money for most buyers. The Roku 2's remote doesn't have a built-in motion-sensing or gaming buttons like the Roku 3's remote does, but there's not much gaming to be had on the Roku, aside from the occasional Angry Birds session. The Roku 2 even one-ups the Roku 3 by including analog video jacks, making it compatible with older, analog TVs.
The real drawback to the Roku 2 is speed. The Roku 2 lacks the superfast processor of the Roku 3 and, while the difference isn't huge, it is noticeable. Zipping through menus has a subtle lag, although it's not that bothersome, especially if you haven't been spoiled by the Roku 3. I tended to notice it the most when using the cross-platform search feature, with the Roku 2 stuttering a bit as I zipped around the onscreen keyboard to enter text.
The Roku 3's superior speed may also increase its longevity. Roku has been particularly excellent about continually updating its boxes years after they're released, and the Roku 3's more powerful processor makes it more likely your box will stay snappy several software updates into the future.