The Roku 2 is very affordable and has some excellent features.
Doesn’t switch off, and the menu system can be unresponsive at times.
Roku digital streamers have been around since 2010 with the Roku SD and HD. Back then the devices were big, bulky and slow. The Roku 2 has been around for a good six months now and is leading the next generation of media streaming, these devices are small in size and very lightweight, but are these media streamers worth the money? And would you use it on a regular basis?
Here we have the Roku 2 XS for review, it retails at £99 and is supposedly one of the best streamers on the market. First impressions of the Roku 2 XS was that this device is small but very cheap feeling due to its lightweight plastic body, but it’s going to be sat next to a TV so the weight and feel means nothing. Looks on the other hand are better, with a high gloss black finish and smooth curved edges; the Roku 2 really looks the part. On paper the Roku 2 has some great features, one of which is USB support, to our frustration MP4 is the only video format supported. Another feature is the Bluetooth remote, meaning you can hide the Roku player behind the TV out of line of site.
First boot of the Roku 2 was somewhat frustrating, setup takes you through connecting to Wi-Fi, it then wanted to download and install an update. After ten minutes the device rebooted and needed to be activated using a Roku account, which we haven’t set up yet, so off to the computer to create an account, after this you have to type in the on-screen code provided to activate your device. Of course, this didn’t work first time, but third time lucky and 30 minutes later we were on the Roku home screen and ready to stream some media.
Once the Roku 2 XS was activated we were ready to choose some media to stream; the home screen menu is very limited, we have a choice of Netflix, Angry Birds, iPlayer, Revision3 or Pandora radio. Navigating and loading times of the Roku system can be slow and unresponsive at times, you would have thought having paid for £99 for the device they could refrain from having ads on the home screen. Another ‘feature’ worth mentioning is that Roku doesn’t turn off or have a sleep mode, were not sure what to make of this, Roku state that the device uses less power than a night light and stays on to provide instant content and updates, still, a sleep mode would have been nice.
First app up was Angry Birds, as this was the main reason we chose the Roku 2 XS over the Roku 2 LT. Angry Birds took a while to load-up but once your in the game everything is fine, the ‘Wii’ like motion remote performs very well making angry Birds an enjoyable experience. Netflix and BBC iPlayer are also good, the menu systems are easy and streaming is good providing your device isn’t too far away from you Internet hub, the Wi-Fi connection isn’t very strong on this device. We had the Roku 2 in the same place as our Apple TV and wireless connection was dropping off on the Roku, but Apple TV connected fine.
Other than Netflix, iPlayer and Angry Birds there isn’t much decent content, Roku have a channel store but its dominated by American apps, after sifting through, our picks were; revision3; a free internet TV service with some quality videos, and a Facebook photos and videos app which is slow and very limited in what you can do.
After slating the Roku 2 XS in the above paragraphs we thought we would give you some good points: Firstly the Roku has plenty of potential for more third party UK based apps such as iTV Player, 4oD and YouTube, but this would need the respective companies to develop such apps. Also, the Roku is an Alternative streaming player for all you Apple haters out there; it delivers a similar standard of content and is in the same price range. Last of all, the Roku has Angry Birds included, who doesn’t want to play Angry Birds on their TV?
In conclusion, we feel the Roku 2 XS is an average streaming player with a lot of potential. Additional UK based apps and more content out of the box would be nice. Roku have some work to do on the system itself, a sleep mode and more responsive operating system would improve the player ten fold. If you’re looking for a streaming player to play Netflix and BBC iPlayer then this is the player for you. Overall we score the Roku XS an average 3 out of 5 stars.