Roku

The Good Affordable sub-$100 price tag; ultrasmall factor; streams more than a hundred Internet video and audio services, including Netflix, Hulu Plus, Amazon, Pandora, Major League Baseball and NHL games, and Mediafly podcasts; built-in dual-band 802.11n Wi-Fi; works with all TVs, including non-HD models; upgradable firmware allows for periodic update of content and features; good HD video quality (on channels and programming that support it).

The Bad Most worthwhile services require monthly or per-use fees; some game consoles and ever-cheaper Blu-ray players offer many of the same Internet-viewing options plus disc playback; currently offers no official support for streaming from USB drives and home network sources; 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; currently offers no access to PC- and USB-based media; lacks official support for YouTube.

The Bottom Line Thanks to its wide range of content offerings--including Netflix, Amazon, Hulu Plus, and Pandora--the Roku XDS is the best all-around streaming media box you can get for less than $100.

Editors' Rating
  • Design 7.0
  • Features 8.0
  • Performance 9.0
8.0 Overall

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Price $186 Amazon.com $179 Apple $60 Amazon.com $60 MSRP $48 Amazon.com
Design
7
10
9
7
8
Features
8
10
9
7
8
Performance
9
9
9
6
8

Review

Roku

Dec 2010

Editors' note: As of July 2011, this product has been discontinued and replaced by the Roku 2 XS.

It seems hard to believe now that Netflix streaming video is available on nearly any Internet-connected home video product, but back in the spring of 2008, the only Netflix-compatible device was a tiny streaming media box called the Roku Player. In the two years since its release, a series of firmware upgrades has expanded the program offerings on the Roku, even as the company added a new generation of products. The fall 2010 lineup comes in good, better, and best versions: the $69.99 Roku HD, $79.99 Roku XD, and the $99.99 Roku XDS (reviewed here). (Note: The Netgear Roku Player NTV250 is just a rebadged version of the Roku XD.)

In its latest incarnation, the company has made its little black box even smaller, while retaining the same onscreen look and feel as well as "channel" options. Roku currently offers one of the strongest lists of online content providers: Netflix, Hulu Plus, and Amazon Video on Demand are the big headliners, with plenty of other video providers (Vimeo, Flixster, Blip.tv, Break.com, Revision3), audio services (Pandora, MP3tunes, MOG), photo services (Flickr, SmugMug, Facebook) and live sports providers (MLB.TV, NHL GameCenter, UFC). There are dozens more, though many are, admittedly, aiming for niche audiences.

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Specs / Prices

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model 2000C

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