March 30, 2011 by Grant Clauser
Roku has pretty much been the master of the online content domain (unless you count AppleTV) since the first Roku box came out with a Netflix widget (we didn’t call them apps back then). There are others, such as Boxee, Logitech Revue, VUDU, AppleTV and such, plus a few more coming out later this year, but no one beats Roku in ease of use and number of online services.
The only problem was that until now you had to order the device online from Roku’s web site or through Amazon. That hasn’t been a big deal—the devices are very popular. Still, for some people, it’s not real until you can buy it in a store and put it in a bag.
So now you have it; Roku’s 1080p model, the XD, can now be purchased at Best Buy for $79. You can also get the Netgear version of the player at Fry’s, Radioshack and BJ’s.
The Roku XD includes built-in Wi-Fi (802.11n), HDMI output with 108p playback, and USB support.
In January the company said it served its 1 billionth content stream, and it had over 130 cloud content channels. The company says its user base is a big as a major cable provider, but won’t be more specific on what that means.
Will greater product visibility mean more people will turn to cloud content and away from traditional providers? It worked for me. I use a Roku XD, and in that room it’s mostly replaced all other content sources, except for the occasional Blu-ray. The ease of switching between Netflix, Pandora and the Dalai Lama channel, without any commercials, makes cable obsolete.
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Grant Clauser has been covering home electronics for more than 10 years with editorial roles in several consumer and trade magazines. He's done ISF-level damage to hundreds of reviewed products and has had training from THX, the Home Acoustics Alliance, Control4 and Sencore. His latest book is Necessary Myths
. Follow him on Twitter @geclauser.
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