- Editor Rating
- Rated 4 stars
- Roku 2 XS 1080P Streaming Player
- Reviewed by:
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- Cosmetic AppealEditor: 80%
- Design & Build QualityEditor: 80%
- FeaturesEditor: 70%
- FunctionEditor: 80%
- Value For The PriceEditor: 70%
The Roku 2 XS provides the full multimedia experience including 1080p video streaming & gaming.
With great services such as Hulu Plus & Spotify being available the tech world is really becoming obsessed with the ability to have access to demand multimedia streaming whenever they desire. This is evident with the large amount of Wi-Fi compatible smart TVs that are being sold currently. Unfortunately, these smart TVs are typically expensive and not affordable for the average person. Luckily, the great people at Roku have created the Roku 2 XS 1080P Streaming Player that brings the advanced multimedia experience to virtually any TV for an affordable price.
For under $100 the Roku 2 XS is available for purchase and is currently the most advanced model of the Roku devices offered. After unboxing the device, I was impressed at how small and portable it truly was. Judging by the “XS” in the name I anticipated the device to not take up all that much room, but this baby can really fit in virtually any space. In those situations where you really are struggling to find room for it, you can just purchase a TV mount that will mount the device nicely behind your HDTV and out of the way. The Roku is lightweight and does feel a little cheap in terms of the build materials. Since the device is meant to be stationary, I don't anticipate the build quality to be an issue, just be careful not to drop it or mistreat it as it likely won't hold up to much abuse.
The device is appealing to the eye though it is not hard to go unnoticed since the device is so tiny. The black finish is a nice touch and the faint XS on the top looks pretty stylish and easily distinguishes the model of Roku. In the box you'll find everything you need to setup the device which isn't all that much. After plugging in the supplied power and A/V you are good to go. The remote control requires 2 AA batteries, but Roku has included these for our convenience. Keep in mind if you want to use this device via HDMI you will need to purchase a separate cable since only A/V cables are included.
The first time setup process is a bit time consuming especially since you have to enter letters and numbers one by one as no QWERTY keyboard is featured on the remote. After using the remote for the Samsung UN46D700 smart TV, I am really biased on featuring a QWERTY keyboard for this type of stuff as it just makes it that much more convenient. You will need to create a Roku account if you do not have one already and unfortunately it works like iTunes or Amazon where you will need to enter in a credit card number to link to your account even if you aren't planning on buying any apps and just using free ones. The Wi-Fi setup was a breeze and the signal was strong even though I was quite a distance away from my router so I was pleased with the wireless performance.
Finally, the setup process was over and I was ready to dive into real use of the device. The interface is simple as you have a “home” screen that features all of your favorite channels (channels are basically apps) and then a channel store that allows you to download and use both free and paid channels. If you use Spotify, Hulu Plus, Netflix, HBO Go, or Amazon Instant Video you'll be able to sign into these accounts and stream these services through your Roku device. Judging off the channels that are offered I was kinda disappointed since the best channels needed paid subscriptions and the free ones such as the Break.com channel weren't any different than if you were visiting the website via a computer.
Truthfully, I was disappointed with the product overall as I'm someone who would just rather plug in my laptop to my HDTV to use Hulu, Netflix, surf Break.com, or listen to Spotify. I know the Roku device adds the convenience for not having to do this, but is What I'm getting at is I don't see any distinguishing feature or performance advantage you receive by using the Roku device over simply plugging in a computer. I know some people are very conscious of the presentation of their theater setups and wouldn't want a laptop ruining the overall look so I could definitely see investing the money to keep it looking sleek and professional at all times.
From my use with the apps they all worked fairly well, though I found it harder to navigate through the menus and find what I was looking for in comparison to the regular computer based web interface. When streaming video the signal was strong and did not need to buffer often though if you do not have a strong internet connection this may be a problem for you. Since Angry Birds was included free of charge I did test out the game and it was a pretty fun and easy to control. The remote for the Roku 2 XS works like a Wii remote meaning it is able to detect movement therefore controlling where I launched the birds was simple and made for an interesting experience.
Overall, the Roku 2 XS was easy to setup, looks nice, and works as advertised. The lack of any real distinguishing features in comparison to a laptop was disappointing and all the useful premium content required paid subscriptions. If you are someone who does not know know or doesn't want to hook up your laptop to your TV then this product will likely be beneficial to you and give you great smart TV features. Otherwise if you're like me, save yourself $100 and just hook your laptop to your TV via HDMI or VGA and enjoy the same experience.
As a graduate of the University of Massachusetts and our Managing Editor, Colt loves testing out the newest tech products/services. His goal is to help better educate other consumers to ensure the most satisfying purchases decisions on consumer electronics and services. When he is not working on creating new content, Colt enjoys spending time with his two Australian Shepherds, Mia and Zoey.