The Roku box started off as a Netflix solution when internet streaming was still in its infancy. As more and more people were able to get access to high speed broadband services, Roku started adding more entertainment options to their device. It soon became a perfect alternative for people who did not want to pay a monthly Sky or Virgin subscription and cut the cord.
Roku kindly sent us a box to test, so here our my 10 things that I love about the Roku 3.
# 1 – The set-up process is very easy. First you plug it in, you let it find your network (please note, if you are using wireless you need to enter your wireless password!), then go online and register at Roku. You will be given a code that you can enter online and voila! What I also really liked is the fact you can select some channels to install from your web browser, so once your Roku is registered you have a selection of channels you can use right away.
# 2 – This little tiny box offers me more than 1,700 channels of content. It includes a variety of paid and free options. Such as BBCiPlayer, Netflix, Plex, Amazon Instant Video, Google Play, Demand5, Now TV, Sky Store, Spotify, YouTube, All4 (4OD), ITV Player and many more. With other boxes still catching up with app selection (Fire TV missing All 4, Chromecast not having support for ITV Hub / 5 Demand etc) it was great to be able to actually have all the catch up services I watch available
# 3 – I don’t have to pay annual or monthly fees, that means there are no recurring fees for me to maintain my Roku account. However, there are some channels for which I have to pay fees or a subscription, such as Netflix, Now TV and other premium subscription channels. You can however use a Roku 3 to watch purely free content which is a nice change.
# 4 – The wi-fi remote control is really awesome! It comes with a headphone jack for private listening, in case you want to watch late-night programs and you don’t want to disturb the rest of your household. It allows you basically to redirect the Roku audio from the TV through headphones connected to the remote. Did you know that earbuds are also included with the Roku 3? The remote has a motion control for game playback, and the accelerometer within it, can be used on games. I love using it when playing Angry Birds. I can just fire my Angry Birds slingshot with a flick of my wrist.
# 5 – At the back of the player you will find a wired Ethernet port, HDMI, power ports and a microSD card slot, that allows you to expand the memory for additional channel downloads. On the right side you will notice a USB port that can accept USB sticks or external HDDs. That’s perfect for backup copies of DVDs and Blurays. The fact that you have the option of Ethernet (I am looking at you Nexus Player / Chromecast) and a microSD slot was incredibly useful.
# 6 – The processor is much faster now in comparison to previous Roku versions. It’s a completely different experience. If you compare it with the Apple TV 3 you will also notice that videos and menus load faster, start quicker and move faster too. It streams in top quality HD 5Mb/s. I appreciate the playback quality of movies and other programs. This is due to the fact that the Roku3 plays back in true 1080p HD. I also noticed when I was streaming 1080p files in plex they ran flawlessly compared the the Fire TV which tended to buffer more. Point Roku!
# 7 – The user interface is cleaner than previous models and very easy to navigate. There is a split screen menu with quick navigation that works really well. The old horizontal layout has been replaced with a grid of nine channel icons on the right side, while on the left side you see MY CHANNELS, CHANNEL STORE, SEARCH and SETTINGS.
# 8 – I really like the design of it. It’s a glossy black, flat, 3.5 inch square puck of a device, with rounded corners and a purple fabric Roku tag sticking out of the left side. It’s only slightly heavier than its previous model. It is also much smaller than the fire tv. So you can easily hide it behind your TV and not worry about seeing it.
# 9 – If you have a compatible mobile device, you can benefit from screen mirroring. You can cast content from YouTube and Netflix directly from your mobile device.
# 10 – The Roku3 player is DLNA compliant. Hence, it can playback videos from your DLNA enabled network storage device. This means that you can have access to all the movies you have stored on your NAS drive. I currently use this facility via Plex. Plex is very user-friendly and presents all the content on your NAS on a gorgeous user interface. Using Plex on the Roku 3 I can also playback audio that is stored on my NAS. Currently Roku supports the following playback formats: MP3, WMA, AAC and WAC.
To sum it up, the Roku3 is a full-featured media hub, very solid, that offers you simple access to all the major streaming services. It’s considered as the most versatile and most usable streaming device on the market. Even with its lower specs, it works flawlessly streaming all the content I threw at it!