I'm not the type of person who really pays attention to new electronics that come out. It was like pulling teeth to get me to upgrade to a smart phone. When it comes to computers I rely on my husband 100%. He's a super techy nerd, and works with computers for a living, so he is my technical savior. Usually at least once a day I'm yelling to him in the next room, "HELP! I broke something. Fix it.... please?" One day he started talking to me about this thing called a Roku. I looked at him with my usual "Wtf are you talking about?" expression. Our living room TV is already set up to connect to the internet with a computer my husband built, so we're able to watch Hulu, Netflix, or any other media we have on our 47" flat screen. I couldn't figure out why he wanted a Roku. But, he's been eyeing the Roku 2 XS and I figured this might be a neat little gadget to review on DealPeddler.
Roku was super awesome and sent us the Roku 2 XS for review! I let my husband take the reigns and he set it up and had it running in about 10 minutes. He also helped write this review since he did all of the work. (Thank you dear!) I have to say I expected the actual Roku device to be a lot bigger than it is. It literally fits in the palm of your hand. I know they say the best things come in small packages, but I was hard-pressed to think the Roku 2 XS could do everything their site says it can. To my husband's amazement it delivered on everything it promised to.
According to my husband the Roku 2 XS is a brilliant piece of electronics. An inexpensive media player (with a base price of $49.99) that hooks up to virtually any modern day TV. Setup of the Roku 2 XS is as simple as plugging in the two cables that are included in the package (power and composite cables) and following the directions on your TV. It guides you step by step in setting up your internet connection, and activating the device on a computer so you can easily access your paid accounts that include Netflix and HuluPlus. You do need to provide a credit card number or your PayPal account which I wasn't all that thrilled about. However, the PayPal option makes it a lot better. If you have an HDMI input on your TV, I would suggest using that instead of the included composite cables as the video quality is much better using HDMI. Roku offers a 6' HDMI cable for only $9.99 which is fairly inexpensive compared to your local Big Box stores, and you can easily add one during checkout.
The limitations to the Roku are only what channels are available for it (Roku calls the applications on it "Channels"). If you already have a Netflix or Hulu Plus account you can begin accessing that paid content very quickly by just installing the channels and following the directions on screen to link your accounts to it. There are also channels for free movies and music which is pretty awesome. Who doesn't like free?! What I love about the system is the Plex channel. If you have a digital media server, like our household does, just install the Plex Media Server on it. Through the magic of UPNP, the Plex Roku channel detects it and you are instantly streaming your digital media to any TV in the house that you have connected a Roku on. The Roku Channel lineup is continually growing as developers are noticing much power this pint sized box is able to output.
The speed of the Roku 2 XS is remarkably fast for how much it can do and how small it is. I was expecting the performance to be like those dirt cheap tablets (you know what I'm talking about) and have to sit and wait as everything loads, but it was actually pretty darn fast. Netflix loads and starts streaming movies and TV shows faster than our Home Theater PC does!
The Roku 2 XS comes with a more advanced remote than the other Roku models that includes motion control for games like Angry Birds and Stickman Golf. There are a few things we both found a little disappointing with the remote,. The first is that there is no sound adjustment on it. This is a bit of a pain because we now have it hooked up in the bedroom and we're lacking an actual remote for that TV. The second is having to type in searches or even the email address I used to get into Netflix by using up and down arrows and selecting the letters, numbers, and symbols individually. (That email address is ridiculously long - close to 30 characters.) We thought it would have been nice to have a little keyboard on the remote.
The price points for the Roku are ridiculously low. My husband thinks they must be selling these pretty close to the cost to build them considering the engineering and development that has gone into these tiny feature rich devices. As I already mentioned the base model Roku LT is priced at only $49.99. And they offer FREE shipping on every Roku purchase. For Mother's Day, Roku is also offering $10.00 off the Roku 2 XD and XS models until 5/13!
In my husband's opinion this is the type of product to expand its market share and not die into the wind and lose support like many similar products have in the past. Roku has done a fantastic job simplifying the world of streaming media to make this a truly ingenious product for anyone with a broadband internet connection and a TV. We have really enjoyed our Roku experience, and it's great to have more options with what to watch in the bedroom since we're limited to a measly two TV channels. You can easily find Roku on Facebook and on Twitter! Drop by to say, "Hi!" I'm sure they'd love to hear from fans of Roku.Finally, Roku is giving DealPeddler readers a chance to win a Roku 2 XS! Giveaway will run through Mother's Day, and is open to residents of the USA who are 18+. When the giveaway is live you'll be able to enter [HERE].
*I received this product for free from Roku in order to facilitate this review. All opinions are 100% mine. See Disclosure Policy.