October 20, 2011
| by EH Staff
Roku has opened up a slew of new possibilities for TV viewing. That little box can put the power of the web on TVs that aren’t all that smart. Of course, it was wildly successful—at least enough for the company to spawn a sequel.
Back in July, the company announced that Roku 2 was coming. Like its predecessor, Roku 2 comes in three flavors: the Roku 2 HD ($59.99), the Roku 2 XD ($79.99) and the Roku 2 XS ($99.99). These new boxes are slimmer and supposedly more energy efficient. They also have enhanced features, such as built-in Wi-Fi, Bluetooth support, and a MicroSD card slot.
If you couldn’t tell by the price, that XS box is the cream of the crop, with full 1080p HD playback (depending on content), as well as an Ethernet jack and a USB port. It’s also the only one of the trio that comes packing the wildly addictive Angry Birds game and a way to play it. The XS includes the Roku Game Remote, a motion-enhanced controller that otherwise sells for $29.99.
Besides gaming options, this set-top box can add a lot of entertainment to any AV setup. Each Roku box boasts over 300 channels of movies, shows, music, and more. Just a few of those options include Netflix, Hulu Plus, Amazon Instant Video, HBO Go, Pandora, Disney, AOL, and much more. There’s also sports-specific programming from NHL GameCenter LIVE, MLS, UFC, and more. Just know that many of the services offered do require subscriptions and/or fees.
Is it worth squeezing this slim box into your already overcrowded AV cabinet? Should you get an upgrade? Let’s take a closer peek at this streaming product.
What the Manufacturer Says
The flagship Roku 2 XS delivers 1080p HD streaming to your TV, plus fun casual games for an extra dose of great entertainment. Enjoy more than 300 channels featuring the best movies, TV shows, live sports, music, games, and more, including Netflix, Hulu Plus, Amazon Instant Video, Crackle, Pandora, and much more. It also includes built-in wireless, a full version of Angry Birds and works with virtually any TV.
Visit Roku to Learn More About the Roku 2 XS
Reviews and Ratings from Around the Web
Roku 2 XS
Streaming set-top box
Over 300 channels
Includes gaming remote
USB file support is limited
“The end result is arguably the most robust little streaming-media box for less than $100. True, the new gaming feature is very limited at launch (Angry Birds is included for free with the XS but as of yet, no other titles are available), but that the capability is there adds a touch of sizzle and helps distinguish Roku from its competitors.”
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“Although the Roku 2 can’t play the variety of video files (such as .mkv files) that competing boxes such as the WD TV or the Boxee Box can, for streaming Netflix and Hulu videos—and now for playing Angry Birds—it can’t be beat.”
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“Assuming my connection problems were unusual, the Roku still does a lot of things really well. It has a huge selection of legitimately great apps, from streaming music to video to news (and there’s a healthy homebrew scene as well, for unofficial apps) and it’s definitely the least threatening and most intuitive media streamer on the market. I still like Roku—I just wish it was a little faster, a little simpler, a little more reliable.”
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What Electronic House Says
We know a few people that have ditched pay TV for Roku and never looked back. It’s a proven formula. At $99, the Roku 2 XS seems like a bargain. However, is it worth an upgrade—or even the first step?
Of course, at this price, the Roku 2 XS is also in direct competition with Apple TV. It’s certainly a worthy competitor, thanks to the content, the gaming option, and maybe even UFC. If access to iTunes is important, the decision is obvious.
Our one gripe about the Roku 2 XS isn’t what it has, but what it doesn’t. Some USB file support seems to be missing, which means no YouTube. Everyone has YouTube! That said, if you’re just looking for a ton of added content on your TV (not YouTube) and the possibility of more to come, you can’t go wrong here. Also, how often do you get so much for under $100?
What is Electronic House Buyers Scorecard?Rather than bring our users a single opinion on a product or service, our EH Buyers Scorecard combines what the manufacturer has to say about their product with real ratings and reviews from other websites, along with our own opinions and knowledge of the product to derive a wider lens recommendation that can help you in making a purchase decision.