Roku 2

Tech Advisor - - REVIEWS - Chris Martin

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.

De­sign

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.

Ver­dict

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.

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