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CNET First Look
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.
-Hi, I'm David Carnoy, I'm here with the Roku 2 XS, which makes a strong case for being the best media streamer out there for less than $100. First thing, you should know about this little guy is that well, it's got the number 2 in its name especially the 4th iteration of the device, which started it's light out as the Netflix player. Like apple TV, this still is Netflix video streamer at its core and a very good one, but along the way Roku has shrunk the box down at a lot more content options and bulked up feature-wise [unk] go round with a new Bluetooth motion remote load that allows you to play games. That's right games, you heard right, however, don't think you're getting a mini Wii even if the remote is a little like the Wiimote. Roku has included angry birds for free at launch and later this year will offer more casual games that you can purchase through the system, don't care about gaming. Well, fear not, you don't have to pay for the fancy remote if you don't want it. Only the top end excess model you see here comes with the remote with the 2 step down model down to the line, the $80 XD and $60 HD offering nearly all the same features, but come with a standard IR remote. It's worth noting that all the models do offer the gaming feature, but you need the remote to play and you can buy one later if you want for $30. Well, entry level model maxis out at 720p HD video instead of 1080p. All three models looks almost identical and have fast 802.11 and Wi-Fi as well as the Micro SD expansion slot, which you will have to use for storing additional game purchases on and optional memory card. It's also worth mentioning that the XS here, the only model that offers a built in Ethernet connection for those for those who want to go wired route, and yes, there a USB port, which means you can connect a ton drive full of images and select video files, but the truth is this just doesn't support a lot of file types, so don't buy it for that. Given HD TV, you will be connecting this via HDMI, however, an included breakout composite AV cable does like to hook this up to nearly any TV. Of course, you only be getting standard definition video, but it lessens an option for people who owned older sets. Over the years, Roku has done a good job refining interface on its media streaming boxes and while the Roku 2's interface will not be quite as sleek as the one you will find on Apple TV. It is elegant and user friendly. Ultimately, however, the real strength of Roku 2 and the thing that differentiates it from Apple TV is the range of content offerings that are included. Rokus calls those offerings channels and there are dozens from including Netflix, Amazon instant video, and Pandora and Rdio on the audio side is with subscription services like Hulu Plus and MLB TV. To get a more complete list, check out our written review and you can see from these quick scrolls we are offering. It's pretty extensive. The one potential big downside for owners of a Apple devices is this doesn't offer the iTunes integration and wireless Air play features of the Apple TV. However, on the plus side, it has the widest array streaming content to date and one of the best Netflix experiences out there. Combine that with a smaller sign, the new remote and gaming feature and for the moment anyway we can comfortably recommend the Roku 2 XS as the go to choice for buyers looking for a sub-hundred dollar solution for accessing the increasing attractive monopoly of online streaming media services. I'm David Carnoy and that's the Roku 2 XS media streamer. Thanks for watching.