The Good Affordable sub-$130 price tag; streams a variety of Internet video and audio services, including Netflix, Amazon, Pandora, Major League Baseball games, and Mediafly podcasts; dual-band 802.11n Wi-Fi; works with all TVs; upgradable firmware allows for periodic update of content and features; good HD video quality (on channels and programming that support it).
The Bad Ever cheaper Blu-ray players offer many of the same Internet viewing options plus disc playback; video quality varies from channel to channel, depending upon provider and source material; setup and content queues usually require at least some PC interaction; yet another box under the TV; no centralized way to access and manipulate channel providers.
The Bottom Line New content channels and faster Wi-Fi make the Roku HD XR Player a good choice for anyone who wants a quick and easy way to add Netflix--and a variety of other Internet media channels--to any TV.
Editors' note: As of September 23, 2010, this product has been discontinued and replaced by the similar Roku XDS.
Originally introduced in May 2008 as the "Netflix Player," Roku's little video-streaming box had one mission: allow Netflix subscribers to view that company's small stable of on-demand videos on their TVs. The box worked well enough, and as the year progressed, subsequent software updates and--most importantly--expanded program offerings and more HD content made the $100 Roku Netflix Player an even better deal than when it was initially launched.