Where to Buy
|P.C. Richard & Son|
|J&R Music and Computer World|
|Functionality||Internet radio playback, Internet gaming, Internet video playback|
|Connectivity||Wi-Fi and Ethernet|
|Type of Product||Streaming player|
Network and Internet:
|Functionality:||Internet gaming, Internet radio playback, Internet video playback|
|Type of product:||Streaming player|
|Compatibility:||iPhone, Android phones and tablets, iPad|
|Dimensions (WxDxH)||3.5 in x 3.5 in x 1 in|
|Additional features||Roku app for iPhone and Android devices, Access over 750 channels|
|Audio Standards supported:||AAC , MP3|
|Pictures Standard supported:||PNG , JPG|
|Video Standards supported:||MP4, MKV|
The Good: the new excellent interface by Roku 3 and the faster processor makes the device feel responsive and much quicker than any streaming box other than this. Channels about more than 750 are supported, and also Amazon Instant, Pandora, Netflix, Vudu and many others. It has cross-platform search which scours many movie and TV services for finding content. The new Roku’s remote has built-in jack for headphone which makes one listen without having to disturb anyone else.
The Bad: still there isn’t any official YouTube channel. As compared to the other streamers, some services acquire interface that’s outdated, on Roku. Apple TV works better in Apple ecosystem. Roku 3 doesn’t happen to be the best choice if one is looking for streaming personal collection of digital media.
The Bottom Line: Roku 3 tends to be the best of streaming-video boxes to-date, with many content sources, innovative remote having built-in jack for headphone and performance that’s lightning-fast.
Why would someone buy the streaming-video puck at the time everything streams Netflix already?
This is the question that Roku definitely has answered with Roku 3 at $99, by presenting contenting sources greater than others, with navigation that’s lightning-fast and onscreen interface which is quite competitive with Apple TV. There are above 759 channels that include HBO Go, Amazon Instant and Netflix. Roku 3 includes new remote that has built-in jack for headphone and there are enough reasons to buy Roku 3 even if one can stream Netflix already.
It’s not that Roku 3 comes with no faults. It does not have official YouTube and the ones with the hard drives having digital media would find the file-format support of Roku 3 lacking. The Apple fans would still like to look at Apple TV at $99 that is integrated with Apple ecosystem tightly.
These faults could be forgotten easily when one picks the remote, starts to stream and plug in included earbuds.
Fully Redesigned User Interface
The most important change that comes with Roku 3 happens to be its new interface. First thing that you will notice is you could view 9 channels at the same time compared with the five on old interface but even more if one navigates further into menus. This new layout reveals three additional channels with each click that lets one zip through the channels in just fraction of time that it took before.
Now the store of Roku’s Channel is integrated right in main menu rather than pushing one to a totally separate interface. There’s a menu bar toward left which is persistent and is for selecting the categories that makes it quite fast to find channel that one is looking for.
A little check mark showing about a channel that’s installed and animated and smooth transitions which are between menus are small design touches which add to feeling of much polish. Overall, new look appears good in about any way possible.
Only time that one could think of old interface of Roku again is while loading apps which use Roku’s template for default channel, like Giant Bomb and TWiT. Guidelines of older style affect numerous smaller channels. Even the big ones like Amazon Instant and GBO Go are inferior if compared to the apps they have on the other platforms.
Glossier, Smaller And Heavier Design
Roku 3 does look good when it comes to design. It has same size like Roku LT though has striking look along with finely rounded edges and glossier finish.
Roku 3 has additional weight which is added to it purposefully which comes at around 5 ounces, bit heavier than Roku 2 XS with 3-ounce. Also, there is an added nonskid rubber toward the bottom for keeping it from sliding when on tabletop.
All this adds to the nice Roku box, though the plastic-like cabinet prevents it from staying in same league like Apple TV.
Back panel tends to be very compact, with an HDMI output, power plug, microSD slot and Ethernet port. A port for USB is on side that could be used to playback media files that are digital.
Output for Standard-def AV is missing in Roku 3 but the feature is there in Roku HD, Roku LT and Roku2 XD. Roku 3 needs an AC adapter that is wall wart, unlike Apple TV’s power supply.
Remote With Built-In Jack For Headphone And Direct Wi-Fi
Marquee feature of Roku 3 is remote’s mode for private listening. One needs to plug the headphones’ pair into the headphone jack of the remote and one could listen to what is playing on Roku. One other smart feature is that headphone volume doesn’t have any effect on TV volume.
The remote works through Wi-Fi Direct instead of Bluetooth or infrared, meaning one doesn’t need to point remote at box and can stash Roku in any cabinet.
Keeping aside new tech, Roku keeps the remote simple, even though it could add buttons. Also, it could do motion-sensing that mostly benefits while playing Angry Birds.
Roku 3 could be controlled with the help of an awesome smartphone app. Instead of providing same buttons on remote, the app for Roku allows to browse channels directly without looking from phone to the TV.
Everything Other Than Itunes And Youtube Could Be Watched
Above 750 channels are offered by Roku and that is much more than the competitors. Many channels have quite good and specialized stuff and those which are really good require paid subscriptions. Still, a big omission is YouTube and it doesn’t seem like it will be resolved soon. Also, Roku is unable to access whatever is rented or purchased from iTunes Store. However, Roku 3 comes with the Angry Birds preinstalled, but game selection is very weak still, besides Angry Birds.
The Cross-Platform Search
Roku searches through Vudu, Amazon Instant, Crackle, Netflix, Hulu Plus and HBO Go and shows the results only for the installed channels. There is still aspects that could be improved like the search does tell if some TV show through Amazon Instant is available but it doesn’t let one know if it happens to be free for the Prime subscribers till one clicks through to that app.
The Live TV: Aereo And Time Warner Cable
Roku offers impressive suite that has options of live TV. It recently launched Time Warner Cable app that allows subscribers of Time Warner to access many live channels that include many significant broadcast as well as cable networks if one is over home network. Time Warner app does require cable subscription. The Aereo offers a live access over major networks like ABC, Fox and CBS etc, along with the ability of storing and recording many programming hours in exchange for monthly fee. Also, Aereo does not require any extra hardware in the house. It is only available in metro area in New York City, only.
The TV options that are live include Al-Jazeera English and other than this, the other channels like NBA Game Time, MLB.TV and NHL Game Centre require separate subscription.
Personal Video, Plexand More
Though some file formats of digital media like JPG, MP3, MP4 etc. could be played by Roku as it has USB port, it cannot play back huge libraries from personal media in digital form.
It supports Plex Media Server along with a channel that is official and is not very easy to have it set up.
“Play OnRoku” feature is also there in the smartphone app of Roku that allows the users to puch push photos and music from the phone to TV directly but is limited to the stored media in non-video form.
Roku 3 has a much powerful chip within that Roku claims tends to be 5 times faster compared to Roku2 XS. Most of the difference isn’t in terms of specifications; it’s just blazing fast. The speed bump is quite noticeable while installing channels, rebooting box and even navigating menus. Loading of videos from different services is quite fast too maybe due to combination of dual-band Wi-Fi and better processor. This is what makes Roku an amazing streaming box even with Xbox 360 or Smart TV around.
Apple Fans- What’s Better?
The ones who have done heavy investment in content of iTunes, Apple TV is the better option and for those who have household of devices by Apple and that is because of the awesome functionality of AirPlay.
Personal Hoarders Of Media:
For those who have much of their content on local drives, Roku box isn’t a good option as some file formats cannot work with Roku and for such users, TV Live and TV Play by Western Digital is the better choice.
It is an excellent streaming box and that means that it tops even Apple TV as it has superior and awesome streaming services’ selection, cross-platform search along with the feature of headphone-jack-in-the-remote. One finds it hard to stay away from the temptation of AirPlay but in couch, it’s nice to get disconnected with mobile devices rather than serving content from iPad or iPhone. The best alternative to Roku 3, however, is Roku LT which is a budget box and lacks only the improvements to Roku 3, like design, speed and headphone jack.