I’m a fan of the zombie genre, that’s a well known fact, so naturally I wanted to watch the Walking Dead series. Well, I don’t have AMC, so I bought it on Amazon Video On Demand. It was 10 bucks to get the whole first season (only 6 episodes), so I was excited about watching it, and had planned to buy a Roku so that I could use it with my Hulu Plus and Netflix subscription. Along with my reciept email, I got an email telling me I had a credit worth $20 toward a Roku XD. I was planning on buying the HD, so at first I was a little disappointed the credit wasn’t toward that one, then when I looked I realized that I could actually get the XD Cheaper than I would have paid for thhe HD with the $20 credit. With a free trial of Amazon Prime (2 day shipping on any order), I bought the Roku XD for $60 and had it in two days. It arrived yesterday.
I had read up on the Roku and knew it worked well, but I wasn’t expecting it to be as small as it is. It’s about 1/4 the size of my Xbox 360, and it makes no noise. There are no moving parts, no hard drive, so it streams everything. I’m assuming it has a flash memory cache for the video, because with the XD you have a “Instant Replay” button that rewinds to the last 7 seconds for those moments when you’re like, “What’d he say?”. It’s very easy to setup and use. I actually like the interface for Netflix better than the Xbox 360 because it shows the star rating on the movies without having to drill down to the next page. The Hulu Plus streaming is very nice, although I think they’re still gaining usage rights, ’cause there are some shows that aren’t available on your TV yet.
I think the channel I’m most impressed with is actually Amazon Video On Demand. I haven’t used their service extensively, so I didn’t realize that if you purchase a movie, you can watch it streaming as many times as you like. You can also rent movies (although with Redbox so close, it’s pretty pricey – about 3.99 or so for new releases).
Bottom Lining it:
- Inexpensive when compared to Xbox 360/Playstation
- Streams a wide array of formats, including Amazon On Demand, Netflix, Hulu Plus and Pandora
- Small and noiseless
- Wi-Fi – Connect it anywhere in your house with a wireless network
- Requires a Computer – this kind of surprised me, but you need to have a computer connected to the same network and browse to the various sites (Netflix, Pandora, Amazon) to activate the appropriate channels.
- Since it streams everything, it’s a little slow, not quite as quick as the Xbox or a PC, but it’s reliable.
- Remote absolutely required to use the Roku. If you lose the remote, you’re up creek.
- It’s either HDMI or Composite video, there’s no S-Video or Component video output (XD|S model has optical audio and component video)
- No USB port for keyboard. So if you need to search, it’s a pain, but it’s no deal-breaker.
And that’s about it. I’m very happy with it. Apparently the deal with Amazon is if you buy or rent anything in the Video On-Demand section for $5 or more, you qualify for $20 off a Roku Xd.
I’ll give it 5 out of 5 stars. I can’t think of a reason to discredit the Roku. It does everything it claims.
Edit: I misplaced the remote and on a whim searched the iPhone App Store for “Roku Remote” – the DVDPRemote app is an excellent tool for anyone with a Roku. It allows you to use the iPhone keyboard and much more. A good backup as well.