Setup, UI and Content

Having established that this is a device designed primarily for video streaming, I plugged it in to my receiver via HDMI and a power outlet and was immediately greeted by the screen below.

Things are starting off well. After configuring my display settings and my wireless network, the setup tool opens the Roku webpage to create a Roku account and sync my box up with that account. All in all the process was straightforward and went off without a hitch.

Once the syncing with a Roku account finishes, up comes the main menu; this same menu greeted me any time I started the player afterward. It isn't as flashy as many other players, with only a few options including a settings menu for the player, the channel store, and a few default channels the Roku wants to draw your attention too (Netflix, Hulu Plus, and the Amazon VOD store). Hulu Plus shows up as "Coming Soon" at the time of writing and we do not yet have a specific timetable for when that will be available; the website simply says November 2010 so it could be any day now.

Once inside the channel store, you can pick and choose from the Roku's list of supported content and add the channels to your main page. Pandora was one I quickly singled out. There is an extensive list of the publicly available content for the Roku available on their webpage; there are also private channels available through some of the Roku forums, and a quick search of the web will reveal some of the user generated content out there. These are channels not available in the channel store, but you can add them to your Roku player via a code process. If you still can't find your favorite web content, you can try downloading the Roku SDK and developing your own channels.

The implementation of the individual channels really varies. I found the Netflix channel with a search function excellent and easy to use, while a few others like Chow was just an endless series of videos I had to scroll through and back to find what I wanted. The above gallery has images of the store, as well as the Netflix and Amazon VOD interfaces. We'll add images for Hulu Plus when it becomes available.

What You Get with the Roku XD Performance Breakdown and Final Words
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  • RamarC - Sunday, November 14, 2010 - link

    I'd really like to see a comparison of these media streamers vs some bluray players. I was planned to buy a Roku XD a couple of weeks ago, but since they weren't in stock yet, I figured another $100 for a networked bluray was worth a try.

    I just got 2 bluray players with the specific goals of accessing Netflx AND my MP4 collection (either from my home server or USB hard drive). Neither Panasonic's nor Toshiba's units could do it and Sony's wireless was flaky and didn't like NTFS drives. I skipped Samsung since they didn't seem to offer anything that the other didn't. Only the LG BD570 did everything decently enough but I had to spend $40 extra for the wireless version because the BD550 wasn't DLNA capable.

    I really wanted to put a dedicated laptop for all the net on the big TV, but $500+ (with wireless kb/mouse) was too expensive since the wife had to have Netflix on both TVs. Just under $400 for two LG player's isn't bad but I still wonder if they're better/worse than an XD or WD box.
    Reply
  • ajlueke - Wednesday, November 17, 2010 - link

    In the situation you mentioned above, just lookng for Netflix and MP4 playback, you would probably be fine with two of the $100 Roku boxes. You would lose the blu-ray capability of the LG players, but if that isn't as important you could save yourself about half the cost. Reply
  • Yeah - Friday, November 12, 2010 - link

    Let me know when they create a box like this that I can record some clan matches with my ps3 and toss them up on Utube.

    Anthing else I try to use now is clunky and time consuming.
    Reply
  • JarredWalton - Friday, November 12, 2010 - link

    Seems to me if you want something that can record PS3, you'd need a device with HDMI input. The only solutions I know of with HDMI recording capability are expensive to say the least. (Okay, so something with component input could work as well.) If you haven't looked into it, what about something like this (PC required, naturally):

    http://www.provantage.com/avermedia-mtvhddvrr~7AVE...
    Reply
  • cplusplus - Friday, November 12, 2010 - link

    Talk to the game makers about that one. PS3 has had the ability to upload Youtube videos for a couple years now in their SDK, and there have been a few games that have actually implemented it, but not many. Reply
  • KeithP - Friday, November 12, 2010 - link

    Is there any chance you could revisit this article with some direct comparison of Netflix (and others) streaming visual quality between the Roku devices, AppleTV, etc.?

    Some of the stuff I have seen so far seems to indicate the AppleTV, while limited in features, has better video quality although the comparison didn't focus on Netflix streaming.

    I know, in theory, they should be basically the same but we all know in actual practice that is not the case.

    I was thinking about getting an AppleTV to stream my iTunes content and Netflix. However, if the visual quality is the same with the Roku, I think I would give up the iTunes streaming for Roku's greater flexibility.

    -KeithP
    Reply
  • ajlueke - Friday, November 12, 2010 - link

    Hi Keith, as I believe I said in the article, I didn't see any difference between the Roku, and W7 MC. You do have more control or color saturation etc in windows but otherwise Netflix looks amazing. I don't have an Apple TV or Revue on hand to look at, but I suppose I could look at my 360 as well. As far as Netflix image quality goes, i don't think you'll be disappointed. Reply
  • Twirrim - Friday, November 12, 2010 - link

    Might as well ask here as it's hard to figure out from Roku's site (and I can't find a list of channels anyway)

    Can a roku stream media from a uPnP source or other network device? I've got a NAS that's capable of doing NFS/SMB/uPnP that I'd really like to stream to the TV via something like a Roku box.
    Reply
  • Thermogenic - Friday, November 12, 2010 - link

    No, it can not. There is a channel that supports PlayOn, but I can't vouch for how well that works. Reply
  • EddyKilowatt - Monday, November 15, 2010 - link

    Was going to ask about DLNA support myself; assume answer is the same.

    A bit puzzled about this, though... given the things these Media Streamers already do, being able to stream content off a local NAS (or home server in my case) seems like a no-brainer, both in terms of additional design and in terms of marketing.
    Reply

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