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First Look: Roku's budget streaming boxes are big on value

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First Look: Roku's budget streaming boxes are big on value

3:15 /

The Roku LT, Roku 1 and Roku 2 offer more limited feature sets, but at a lower prices, although we still think the Roku 3 is the best box of them all.

Hey. I'm Matthew Moskovciak from CNET and we're gonna take a look at Roku's line of budget streaming video players. This includes the $50 Roku LT, the $60 Roku 1 and the $80 Roku 2, which are all currently available. All of these boxes have a similar design. They're small, glossy and they slope towards the front, giving them a sleek look. They're not super compact like the Google Chromecast nor they're quite as sleek as the Apple TV but they're good-looking especially for something that will set under your TV. Unlike the flagship Roku 3, all three also have analog video ports on the back, so you can still use them with older TVs. Of course, they also have HDMI, as well as built-in WiFi to connect to your home network. The purple Roku LT is the cheapest model at $50 and it's only available at online retailers. It includes a standard remote and it's a good one with a simple layout and convenient buttons to jump directly to services like Netflix and Amazon Instant. Like all Roku boxes, you get access to a huge library of services including Netflix, Amazon Instant, HBO Go, Hulu Plus, Pandora, MLB. TV, Amazon Cloud Player, Spotify and Rdio. Although note that they're still not a dedicated YouTube Channel on the Roku. The LT also has Roku's great cross platform search feature, so you can see what services of specific movie or TV show is available on. The big difference with the Roku LT is it's unlimited to 720p video output, which makes it a good fit for smaller TVs where you won't notice the difference as much. For $10 more, you get the $60 Roku 1, which comes in black and is nearly identical to the Roku LT, except that adds full 1080p output. For $80 you can get the Roku 2, which adds dual-band WiFi for more reliable streaming from compatible routers, plus it comes with this great remote. The remote works via WiFi direct, so you don't need to point it at the Roku to control it, plus it has a headphone jack on the side. Just plug in the included earbuds and your TV automatically mutes. So, you can listen to your streaming video without disturbing anyone else. The Roku 2 is in a specially great value if you love the nifty remote on the Roku 3, but you don't need all the bells and whistles that it offers. But even though, these cheaper Roku boxes are great values for most buyers, I still think the $100 Roku 3 is worth the extra money. It has a lot of geek friendly features like an Ethernet jack and SD card slot, a USB port and a motion control remote but the real reason that's better is it has a faster processor. It's not a huge difference from the Roku 2 but it is noticeable and we think for just $20 more, it's worth it especially for a device you'll probably use all the time. There's also the Apple TV and the Google Chromecast to consider, which aren't good options if you're heavily invested in the Apple or Android ecosystem. But if you like what Roku offers these budget boxes are all good values especially for secondary location where you may not need everything that the Roku 3 offers. I'm Matthew Moskovciak and this was a quick look at Roku's budget streaming video players.

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