Mrs. CancelCable.com here again. I’ve been researching which Roku unit to buy to replace our old one, and here’s the scoop…
Starting with the basics… A Roku is a small unit that streams movies, TV shows, music and other content to your TV via the Internet. The nice thing about the Roku is that once you buy the basic unit ($60 - $99) one-time cost, there are no monthly fees and you don’t need to have a computer to watch broadband TV.
Since we bought our first Roku almost two and a half years ago, I was surprised to see that Roku has added about 100 channels (mostly free) including more movie channels, news channels and a bunch of Internet related channels (like ones that let you view your Facebook, Picassa or Flickr photo albums on your TV - pretty cool.) The ones we use the most are…
- Netflix - (the first Roku channel and the reason we bought our original unit) lets us watch thousands of Netflix Instant movies and TV shows on our TV and only requires an $8.99/month Netflix account.
- Huluplus - lets us watch HuluPlus on our TV. Basically takes the place of our old Tivo and DVRs and lets us watch current broadcast TV shows on demand (e.g. 30 Rock, The Office, Saturday Night Live, House, etc.). Requires $7.99/month Huluplus membership which lets you want thousands of shows and clips for free.
- Amazon Instant - lets us watch new releases (and some in-theater movies) from Amazon Instant on our TV. Most rentals are $3.99 for 24 hours, but they do run $.99 specials on occasion.
- Pandora - Great free music service - lets us create an unlimited number of ’stations’ for the different music we like.
Choosing a Roku model
Currently, there are three different Roku models to choose from: (1) The Roku HD, (2) The Roku XD and (3) the Roku XD/S. The good news is that there is only about a $40 difference between their budget unit and their deluxe one.
1. The Roku 2 HD is their basic unit and sells for about $70. It is compatible with any TV (old analog ones and new HD TVs) and has built in Wi-Fi and a wired Ethernet connector. It lacks some of the bells and whistles of the other Roku models (1080p HD video quality, enhanced remote with instant replay capability, extended range wireless or dual-band wireless ), but might be a good choice if you are on tight budget, or have an old analog TV and have your Internet router placed close to your TV).
2. The next step up is the XD Roku 2, which sells for about $80. It has all the features of the basic model, and adds 1080p HD video compatibility. Some channels stream in 1080p already, and more are expected to follow so if you have a Flatscreen TV which supports 1080p, it’s probably worth the extra $20 for this feature alone. The XD also comes with an enhanced remote with instant replay and has built in extended-range wireless (wireless-N) which can double your Wi-Fi range, letting you use your Roku in larger houses and making for faster and smoother streaming.
3. The top of the line current model is the Roku 2 XS unit, which sells for about $100. It has all the features of the lesser models plus dual-band wireless which is advertised as the current wireless standard and since it has two different types of wireless radios, it can deliver even faster bandwidth, less interference and better reliability. This unit also has a USB port for showing your home videos and pictures on the TV, which I love.
If was a close call between the $80 XD model and the $100 XD/s model, but for $20 extra we ended up choosing the Roku XD/S unit. We’re not running dual-band wireless yet, but the unit is downwardly compatible with standard Wi-Fi and we’ll probably upgrade to dual-band soon, which my husband has been wanting to do for a while. And since it also has the USB port, I really like the idea of showing the whole family the latest cute kid video or birthday party pictures without dealing with various camera cables that we can never find!
Just ordered it last night from Amazon for $99 with free 2 day Prime shipping and will post again when we receive it and hook it up.
In the meantime, if you have any questions about my post, please feel free to leave a comment below and I’ll do my best to answer it. Thanks!