I have worked with a number of box streamers before and they all have there pros and cons. As I was mainly looking for a Vudu client, I decided to give the Roku a try. I did not actually know they had released version 3 and found it by accident when ordering the Roku 2. As luck would have it, I mistakenly ordered the wireless version of the Roku 2 (I hate wireless) so in verifying the correct version so I could re-order, I found they had just launched the Roku 3. Not one for being behind the power curve, I returned the 2 in favor of the 3. The Roku 3 has both Ethernet and Wireless and sports their new speedier polished interface. It also has a Wifi remote with a headphone jack for private listening which I must admit is a first that I have seen on a device. The main reason I wanted the Roku is Vudu playback. Vudu is a great service but to exploit the quality of video and sound you have to use a device that directly supports the service. Since the Roku has direct support for Vudu as well as Netflix, and Plex Media, it made it the ideal device for me to try. Utilizing Plex in the Roku allowed me to bridge server content with online streaming. Add to that the channels available on the Roku, and I could use the Roku for Netflix, Hulu, Amazon Prime, Pandora, and of course Vudu. Could it be true that one device can do all of this?
(Pictured sitting on top of an Apple TV 3rd Generation. As you can see that the device is very small.)
The device comes pretty basic. You get the device, the wireless remote, and a power supply. No cables and no other hardware. I actually prefer this as it keeps the cost down and more often than not I always have extra cables laying around.
Setup for this device is extremely simple. I captured most of the setup screens so you can see the simplicity of the process. Even adding channels was painless.
Mobile App (IOS)
As is expected from most devices today, there is some form of a mobile app included and Roku is no exception. They have an Android and IOS app which actually works very well. Not only can you have quick access to change your channels but you also get a very responsive remote. The app/device combo is by far the fastest I have seen. Commands and navigation are instantaneous without lag or delay.
As with all devices, nothing is 100% perfect but the Roku 3 is an awesome device and comes the closest to a one stop shop that I have seen yet. As a Vudu Client it is pretty awesome and the performance overall is outstanding. The video and audio quality are extremely good (you get Dolby 5.1 but not HD audio) but the real power comes from the available channels. The fact that you can add Amazon Video, Netflix, Vudu, and Hulu is enough for most people. Add to that the Plex support and you open up an even bigger world. I did not really expect to like it as much as I did as my primary purpose was strictly to use for movie rentals from Vudu. By the time I was finished, I was pretty impressed with the device and would recommend it to anyone who is looking to cut the cord or limit the number of devices. If you like streaming only devices, then definitely look at this one.
- Very, very, fast interface that is easy to navigate around. Even an inexperienced user will find there way around.
- Excellent picture and audio quality (limited only be the content that comes in)
- Streaming to the remote for private listening.
- Great integration with Plex Media so you can gain access to your content via Plex such as your local movies or your iTunes library.
- Mobile app is well laid out and very responsive.
- Some of the channels such as Plex have lower resolution meta data so they do not fully exploit the interface such as Vudu does.
- Cannot access your local content directly. You have to use Plex to access your movie collection. Not too much of a con but it would have been nice to have direct access.
***Update*** Despite having a wireless remote, they have built in an IR sensor so I was able to integrate it perfectly into my Harmony Remote.