Roku Review

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The word of the day is ROKU. Yep – we finally got on board the Roku train, and have been kicking the tires for a few days. Part of what triggered our interest was Gregg’s review several months ago, and as he noted, it’s a game-changer.

In a nutshell: Roku is a little box (between $60 and $100, depending on model) that plugs into your TV on one end, and into your internet connection (wired or wireless) on the other. It then offers you dozens of “channels” – most of them free, some of them offering subscriptions and/or pay-per-view.

Hooking it up wasn’t quite as simple as we had hoped, because it turns out that our Bresnan/Optimum network was fritzy (now fixed, BTW)…so instead we just plugged our BridgeMaxx box right into it – and then it was magic.

The choices are remarkable: the obvious ones, of course, such as movies and TV shows on Hulu and Amazon; channels dedicated to news, sports, etc; offbeat channels, including ones devoted solely to “drive in” movies (vampires, robots, etc), environmental issues, religion, cooking channels, etc; and dozens more. You can also sync your Facebook account and check out your stream on your TV – kind of weird seeing your friends’ pictures on a 45-inch TV!

The remote control is small and limited, but perfectly functional. No keyboard – relies solely on up/down/left/right, enter, back, and a couple other buttons.

The highlight of our Roku experience so far: last night we stumbled across the entire “Ally McBeal” series, and immediately went searching for The Episode. You know – the one where BARRY WHITE appears at John Cage’s birthday party and sings – absolutely mesmerizing. It aired on April 19, 1999.

Here’s a YouTube video of it:

I love that scene SO MUCH. The presence and voice of Barry White…the acting…the actors…the song…the reactions…magical.

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6 Comments

  1. Also, will it play local media connected to the USB port? Any particular file format, or will it accept anything you throw at it?

  2. Aaron — no recommendations on my part yet — I tend to shy away from Apple products in general, and never tried the Boxee.

    And in theory, our Roku box is set up to play just about anything – but we haven’t experimented yet. Will update when we put it through the paces.

  3. If you can handle the flimsy remote that comes with the Roku, I say all the more power to you.

    Boxee is nice, but the wierd shape of the case throws a lot of people off.

    And don’t even get me started on Apple.

  4. I have been using Roku for eight months thanks to Leo LaPorte, The tech guy. http://twit.tv/ttg He has tested the apple tv, boxee and the rest but Roku won.
    One thing you should do first. Test your WIFI with speedtest.net if you have an IPOD, IPAD, IPHONE. 1.4 MB download is a minimum but Netflix will adapt picture quality. An I device will also allow you to get an app for a remote control one is free and the other is $2.99.
    Also Roku has over 200 channels and about half are free. Leo has his own channel TWIT TV. Enjoy.

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