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First Look: The $60 Roku HD

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First Look: The $60 Roku HD

3:08 /

With its ability to stream hundreds of audio and video channels (including Netflix, Amazon, and Hulu Plus), the $60 Roku HD would be our top pick for those seeking an ultra-affordable Internet media box -- if not for the fact that it's nearly identical to the slightly cheaper Roku LT.

Hey. I'm Matthew Moskovciak at CNET and we're gonna take a look at the Roku HD. This is yet another Roku box in the company's line of video streamers and this one cost $60. So, what's the difference between the Roku HD and the step down $50 Roku LT? It's really not much. The Roku HD is a little bigger than the Roku LT and you can see the styling is different, with the Roku HD having a lot less purple which I think looks nicer. The only other difference is on the back panel, with the Roku HD, having full AV outputs for connecting to older standard definition TVs. Roku LT also supports older TVs but the uses in included breakout cable instead, which means you're limited to the length of the included cable. Everything else about the Roku HD is the same as the Roku LT. They both at built in WiFi but no ethernet port and they include a nice, simple remote that has some direct access buttons for services like NetFlix, Pandora and Crackle. It doesn't support the Bluetooth Motion Control remote, available on the $100 Roku 2 XF but I don't think the remote is worth the extra money anyway. The user interface is basic but simple. There's a whole (lot on the) raw of icons and there are 4 channels pre-installed. Netflix, Amazon Instant, Hulu Plus and Pandora. Those first 3 video services are an excellent trio for cable cutters, letting you mix and match subscription and pay per view content to catch up on your favorite TV shows. You can add more channels in the Channel Store. There's at the playing grid interface here, and the amount of content is a little overwhelming, especially without search functionality, if you're looking for a specific app. But that variety is one of the real strength of all of Roku's boxes, with content like HBO Go, MLB. TV, NHL Game Center, Crackle, Mug, RDO Tech Talks, Revision 3, which is a ton of content. If you're interested in streaming digital music and video files that you have stored on your computer to the Roku, you wanna check out the Plex App. I've knocked Roku boxes in the past, for lacking the ability to stream their own media but the Plex App has a lot of support for file formats, and it's a good solution as long as you're tech savvy enough to configure the Plex App on your computer. Like the Roku LT, the Roky HD only supports 720p video but during our test, I really could notice the big difference between the devices that do support 1080p video and the Roku HD. HD streams from NetFlix and Amazon was very good, so I don't think the lack of 1080p streaming should be a major considerations for most fires. Now, the main competition for the Roku HD, along with Roku's other boxes, is the Apple TV and if you already have a few Apple devices, you definitely want to consider it. The Apple TV is airplay functionality is a really killer feature, and the iTunes Eco System is unmatched in it's flexibility with various Apple products. But if you're not committed to Apple family of products, Roku's boxes are for more content options, and the Roku HD is a solid choice, if you prefer the black finish, or you want those standard AV outputs on the back. I'm Matthew Moskovciak and this is the Roku HD.

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