Roku Streaming Media Players are the most popular streaming media players and the darlings of the press. The Roku is a standalone streaming solution that requires very little technical knowledge, does not rely on media purchases or rentals, and is perfect for your mom and dad who have cut the cable but still want to see what Fox and Friends or Jon Stewart have to say. Plug it in, establish a network connection, associate with your Roku account (the only time you will need a computer), and watch TV.
Roku players support streaming of all major entertainment services including Netflix, Amazon Instant Video, Hulu Plus, Crackle, VUDU, and HBO GO plus news, sports, and music. Some versions support applications and games as well. See this guide for a comparison of the various Roku models.
What’s not to like? For starters, the Channel Store. While attractive, it lacks a consistent, user friendly interface. A channel called Acorn, for instance, includes the following in its description…
Free, FREE 30-day trial, and SERVICE MAY REQUIRE ADDITIONAL FEES
There’s no way for me to know if this channel requires a one time fee, periodic payments, or both. I am also underwhelmed with the available content. There is very little ‘live’ programming except for illegal retransmissions. Finally, if you want to play media files off an attached usb disk, the Rokus do not support playlists.
My last word on the Roku is that there are only two models worth considering. If you want to play games, play media off an attached USB disk, have trouble pointing a remote, or do not have a wireless network, the Roku 2 XS is the best choice for you. If you are looking for a simple media player for wirelessly streaming services off the internet, consider getting Playon’s Lifetime Subscription which includes a Roku LT for $70. That extra $20 will provide you with access to a lot of content we associate with Pay TV. You’ll need a PC to run the Playon server, but, for me, Roku plus Playon is a match made in heaven.
For most people, the Roku is the best streaming media player and I love the three in my home.