Roku is one of the leading names in media streaming. Whereas most of its competitors want you to use their services – Amazon, Apple and Google are three prime examples – Roku is a third-party brand that simply wants to give you the best experience possible.
The company’s current line-up consists of just three products. Roku’s entry-level product is its Streaming Stick (priced £39), while at the top end of the range is the £99 Roku 3. At £69, the Roku 2 sits in the middle of the three products. However, while it’s cheaper than the company’s premium model, it’s still more expensive than rivals such as the £59 Apple TV.
The Roku 2 now has the same design as the Roku 3. The remote, however, is very different, with rubbery buttons, and there are now dedicated keys for launching Netflix, YouTube, Rdio and Google Play. Those shortcuts are handy, but it’s worth noting that the remote uses traditional line-of-sight to work, so you can’t tuck the box away or have anything between the two. Unlike its more expensive brother, it doesn’t have a headphone port for private listening or motion sensors for playing games. It might be worth paying the extra if you want these features.
While the remote is different, the box itself is the same as the Roku 3. This means it has an HDMI port, ethernet, dual-band Wi-Fi, USB and microSD. It uses the same processor too, so performance is snappy.
If you’re not bothered about the above features, then the simple but effecting Streaming Stick is probably the Roku for you.
Regardless of which device you pick, the amount of content on offer and features remains the same. Roku continues to lead the way in terms of the best range of streaming services, or apps, you can access. Top names include Netflix BBC iPlayer, ITV Player, Demand 5, All 4, Now TV, Sky Store, BBC Sport, Spotify, Facebook, Google Play, and more. You can also browse the 1,400+ strong channel store where there are all kinds of things from barbecue channels to Yoga.
It does, of course, depend what you want to watch so if you subscribe to Amazon Prime Instant Video and not Netflix, then you’re not going to want to buy a Roku, although the firm has told us it’s working on adding support.
We’ve always been fans of the Roku user interface, which is intuitive and customisable with different themes. It’s good to see new features, then with the ability to search the channel store a welcome and necessary addition.
You can also look for content by name, actor or even director. Start typing and suggestions will appear making things quicker. Don’t, however, be fooled into thinking it will go through every channel. Our search warned at the bottom of the screen it would search only Netflix and Snagfilms. Roku says that “over time more channels are expected to complement this list,” and we hope this happens soon.
MyFeed is another handy new feature, which allows you to ‘follow’ new releases and receive updates when they become available to stream on your Roku – either for free or to rent. The only real downside is that you can only opt to get updates on suggested films rather than anything out there.
The Android and iOS apps have been updated with these features too, but voice search is currently restricted to the US and Canada.
The Roku 2 is yet another decent media streaming box from the market leader, and we like the new Roku Search and MyFeed features. However, these are available on the company’s other devices and the slightly high price means you’ll want to pay the extra for the better remote that comes with the Roku 3 or save money by getting the similar Streaming Stick.