Conclusion: Whilst Roku is a fairly new name to the UK streaming player market, it is well entrenched in the USA and is actually more popular than the Apple TV – to which it is undeniably very similar – and we can see why. The little black box comes with a Bluetooth remote that can be used as a motion controller – Wii Stylee – for a number of games, including the pre-installed Angry Birds ‘Channel’. By the way, what most would call an App, Roku terms a channel.
Pros: Incredibly simple to use, Loads of great channels, Good connectivity for something so small, Mobile app is brilliant, Possibilities are near limitless with channels such as Plex and Twonky Beam, Open(ish) platform
Cons: No 50Hz support for HD signals, DNS settings are locked, No Infra-Red on remote
Summary: Those more interested in streaming their own content than getting it from the Internet might also want to consider the Western Digital WD TV Live Hub media server (*Est. $200) , which includes a built-in 100 TB hard drive, or the WD TV Live (*Est. $100) , which does not. The best sites to read opinions about the Roku 2 XS include CNET, PCMag.com, Wired and ZatzNotFunny.com. User reviews are plentiful at Amazon.com and Roku.com.
Pros: Inexpensive, Easy to use, Wide library of content providers, Great picture quality, Gaming features and Wii-like motion controller
Cons: Need to sign up separately with most content providers, No easy way to stream media from a computer, Few games at launch, Only a few free content providers
Conclusion: The Roku 2 XS is a fabulous media streamer — for casual users, at least. It’s extremely easy to set up and use, and it delivers most of the popular services, including Netflix, Pandora, and Facebook. It delivers HD video with surround sound, comes with a great remote control, and you can play at least a few casual games on it.
Pros: Brain-dead simple to set up, Broad range of apps and services, First Roku streamer to support games
Cons: No DLNA support, so you can't stream content you own over your network, Supports a very limited collection of audio and video file formats and codecs, Can't mount disc images
Conclusion: The Roku 2 XS puts a ton of online content, including Angry Birds, at your fingertips and on your television affordably, but it doesn't seem as useful as it did years ago, before many Blu-ray players and HDTVs offered the same services and more.
Pros: Multiple streaming media services. Easy to set up and use. Angry Birds plays great.
Cons: HDTVs, game consoles, and Blu-ray players offer Netflix, eliminating the need for a separate, single-purpose set-top box. Few local media sharing features. Adding channels requires a credit card.
Excerpt: Lately there has been much less reliance on watching television via a cable or satellite provider; and why wouldn’t there be? There is an abundance...
Pros: Quick Setup, Easy to Use, 1080P Capable, Bluetooth Remote Has Perfect Communication, Amazon Instant Video, Free Shipping, 3rd Party Apps Offer Unlimited Expandability, Built-In USB, Ethernet, WiFi and Micro-SD, Price
Cons: Credit Card Required to Use, Can’t Stream Content from Local network, HDMI and Ethernet Cord Not Included, Apps Can’t Run in Background, Roku Banner Ad Runs Constantly on Home Screen, Boring Interface
Excerpt: Roku has released its newest generation of media streamers, including the top-of-the-line Roku 2 XS player. Perhaps you haven't given Roku much thought as a serious addition to your home theater. Its earlier models gave more attention to the quantity of media-streaming partners than to the quality of the pictures they were streaming. The Roku 2 XS may change your mind as it changed mine.
Summary: I highly recommend paying extra for the XS and setting up a wired home network (perhaps using existing powerline or cable TV wiring) to ensure smooth streaming. Consider the lower-end models only if you've been happy with 2.4GHz Wi-Fi streaming in the past and have no interest in loading your own media onto a USB flash drive for playback on your set.