Roku 2 XSThanks to a varied range of content offerings--including Netflix, Amazon, Hulu Plus, Crackle, and Pandora--that beats the Apple TV, the Roku 2 XS is the best all-around streaming-media box you can get for less than $100.
-Hey, I'm Matthew Moskovciak from CNET and, in this product spotlight, we're gonna take a look at the Roku 2 XS which is one of my top gift picks for the holidays. It's a $100 streaming video box and that gets you access to tons of great online media services like Netflix, Amazon Instant, Hulu Plus, Pandora, and MLB.TV. Now, the box itself is tiny, so it will fit virtually anywhere. There's nothing on the front except for a small light. There's a USB port on the side for playing your own digital media files and the connectivity is on the back. Most people will use the HDMI Port to connect to an HD TV, but there's also an AV output that works with the breakout cable to support older TVs. There's a microSD slot for additional storage and an Ethernet Port plus the Roku has built-in Wi-Fi, so you don't need to have Ethernet cable in-- in your living room. The included remote works via bluetooth so you don't need line-of-sight to control the Roku so that means you can stash up behind your TV camera that you like. The remote also has Nintendo Wii-like motion sensing capabilities which allows the Roku to be used for casual gaming and Angry Birds is included. The user interface is basic, but the real advantage is just how much content there is. In addition to the high-profile streaming services we mentioned before, there are tons of niched content providers and, while you won't like all of them, there's probably a list of channel or two that you wanna check out. We also like that Roku updated the Netflix experience offering 1080p image quality and 5.1 audio on certain titles and there's a better user interface than the older boxes. The combination of Netflix, Amazon Instant, and Hulu Plus is also great for anyone who's looking to cut their cable subscription as you really get access to a ton of TV content on this box. All together, we like the Roku 2 XS over the competing Apple TV since it offers a larger variety of services and affordable price point. However, if you're buying a gift for someone that already has an iPhone, iPod Touch, or iPAD, the Apple TV might be a better choice since it works better in the Apple ecosystem of products. I'm Matthew Moskovciak and this was a product spotlight on the Roku 2 XS.