In trying to cut down on costs and make better use of our time, my family decided to discontinue our cable service. For the past three years, we have been using a digital antenna. This has worked out fine for us as we still have all the basic channels and even two children’s channels which my daughter loves (qubo and PBSkids). The only downfall is that our choices are limited when we really want to sit and relax together and our small DVD library has resulted in my daughter watching G-Force at least six times.
When we received our Roku XD player, my first thought of just the box itself was, “This is TINY!” The Roku is about the size of a DVD/CD and 1″ tall. I waited for my husband to arrive home before opening it. I didn’t get a chance to take a picture of the Roku right out of the box as I usually would. Before I realized it, my husband had already taken everything out and started to hook it up.
The actual hardware set-up is really simple. You only need to plug in the power and connect it to the television. The second step is where we got tripped up a bit. To connect to your home network, the process is supposedly automatic and should ideally take less than 3 minutes. Unfortunately it didn’t quite work out that way for us, causing much tension in our household.
Apparently, our AT&T cable internet modem and the Roku servers don’t like each other. My husband was chatting with the online support for hours but the representative was not helpful at all. She kept rambling on, looking each step up on her script, and not understanding the issue at hand all the while. Without getting too technical, she said we had to change a setting that was not available on our modem. That said, my husband signed off when we had to eat dinner. He ended up finding another router, changing the DNS, configuring the setting and totally figured it out himself. Yes, he is awesome.
After we got it working we found out how great Roku is. Streaming media just makes so much sense and the Roku allows for superb video/sound quality. When used along with Netflix, you can truly see how this system shines. The ‘instant queue’ is convenient, easy to manage, and has a massive selection of television shows and movies to watch instantly whenever you want. My daughter is loving “Horseland” and I was tickled pink to find the new “Wallace & Gromit” short.
Pandora is a free channel that allows for custom music. Based on your preferences of songs or artists, various playlists will be put together for you. You can always ‘like’ or ‘dislike’ a song to further filter the type of music you like. I still have to work a bit more with it but I like the fact that I have more control over the music being played versus just having the radio on.
If you connect your Flickr account, you can flip through your pictures to show to family and friends. Movies and television episodes can be purchased through Amazon on Demand online so you don’t have to run out in the rain to rent a movie or worry about late fees. Hulu Plus is a subscription service that is new and has limited selection so far. If you’d like to watch some 30 Rock, Dancing with the Stars, or Voltron you can always check out the trial to see if it’s up your alley. I just discovered we can even listen to radio in the Netherlands with EURadio.
Many more channels are available both free and available for a fee. They range from news to sports, from music to movies, and even games. With Roku just adding their 100th channel, there is sure to be something for everyone in the family.
There are three Roku systems ranging from $59.99 to $99.99. A comparison of the HD, XD, and XD|S can be found here.
► Giveaway closed, winners announced here!
One of my readers will win a Roku XD ($79.99 value).
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Giveaway ends 12/12/10 at 11:59 PST. Open to US residents only. Winner has 48 hours to respond before a new winner is chosen.
Disclosure: I was provided with the above mentioned product at no charge in order to facilitate this review, which contains 100% my honest opinion.