Roku is the brand that started the streaming revolution. While not as big in the UK as they are in the US, they still offer an amazing suite of features and services packed in a tiny box. Operated with a remote, all you need is a single setup to get this box going. After that, a host of streaming services (and recently games) is available for you to access.
Okay, I am aware that the world already has a Roku 4 out there, but in the UK we only have the Roku 3 to play with, so lets have a look at the features and progression from Roku 1 to Roku 3.
The Roku 1 offers you access to around 1400 + channels in the UK, and everything else they offer. There is access for your television via A/V cable or HDMI, and full 1080p HD Support. The remote offers shortcut buttons, as well as app to cast to your TV from your mobile device. Fairly standard.
The Roku 2 took the A/V away, but then added wireless support, screen mirroring for Android and Windows, Ethernet, USB and micro SD card support, and of course, faster processing. There are also tuned apps for Netflix and Youtube, making those two services faster.
The Roku 3 takes all this, and adds voice search as well as ability to have motion control for games. You also get an AUX port on your remote, so you can listen to your television on your sofa via headphones, and more importantly, your remote connects to your box via WiFi direct, giving you a ‘point anywhere remote’.
In the box
- Roku 3 Streaming Player
- Two AA Batteries
- Power Adapter
The setup is fairly simple, at least for any such streaming device. You have to enter your WiFi details or connect your wired internet. You do need to create Roku account, so it can remember your settings from device to device. The account is also used to manage your payment settings, in case you want to subscribe or unsubscribe from services, and other useful material. After that, you’re more or less good to go.
So, what can I really use this for? Everything you can stream to your computer, or mobile device. This will do it too. For example, take All 4, the former 4oD, which has only just become available on the Chromecast. One of the biggest advantages of having a Roku was that you had access to that straight out of the box. Then you have your iPlayer, your Spotify, your Netflix, your Now TV, and everything in between. You also have other services such as games available, though I have never really been big into playing the little games on a big TV!
You even have access to services such as Dropbox, so if there are images or videos in there that you want to play, this is the device for you.
What’s more, since Roku doesn’t make any money from one service over another, all content is presented to you in a neutral fashion, unlike many other services out there.
Once loaded up, you are presented with a screen which channels as an option. You have a menu on the side, allowing further search as well as different categories, while you can place a list of your channels on the main page. It isn’t really very easy to chop and change this, but the option is available via settings.
On the Interface, you either search for what you want, and Roku points you in the right direction, or alternatively, if you already know which service to use, just click on that channel and you should be good to go.
The Voice Search
What really makes this stand out from the other members of the range is the Voice Search. You try and search for something and this will go and look for it in all the services it has access to. Netflix, Amazon, etc are available straight away to search from. As far as highlights go, this is probably the main feature you need to spend the extra money on the Roku 3. Otherwise, the Roku 2 is good enough, and cheaper.
Okay, okay, there is one more item that tilts in the favour or Roku 3. This is an amazing feature to have if you share your accomodation with anybody, from parents to annoying housemates. It allows you to watch that show late in the night, with nobody to worry about, and more importantly, do so on your main television, and not some tiny screen such as a tablet. All the joy of your television, with none of the disturbance. The headphones that come with the device though, are rather cheap, and ordinary. However, there is nothing stopping you at all from plugging in something better in.
To be honest, if you’re buying this for the games, you’re not doing Roku right. Then again, if you are looking to kill time, then this works really well. Motion detection gives you the extra ability to control games, and classics such as Tetris are always great. However, personally, games are good, but not why I would use this.
Effectively, like all streaming hardware, the main killer is smart TVs themselves. You will find a lot of these services available on almost any new TV you buy these days. However, Roku have gone far and wide to find channels that are not easily available on other services.
More information on the Roku 3 can be found on the Roku website:
It can be bought directly from the website for £99.99. There is a promotional offer on right now letting you buy this for £89.99, but no idea how long that will last.
If you want a streaming box that does it all, they don’t come any better that this. Roku started the streaming game, and it is still the leading player.