Enter the Roku product line, affordable devices which connect your TV to the Internet.
Fathers already have a wealth of streaming gadget choices, including smart Blu-ray players, the new Google Chromecast and WiFi-ready flat panel TVs. If you’re eager for a gadget that’s a breeze to install, a snap to use and less expensive than most of those alternatives, the Roku 2 is your best bet.
Daddylibrium currently uses a smart Blu-ray player to bring Netflix into my man cave. In just a few short days I’ve made the switch to the Roku 2 player and have no regrets.
Roku Boasts Space Age Appeal
The Roku 2 itself is small, molded from sleek black plastic that feels like a more expensive item. The setup is simple thanks to the included instructions, as is connecting the player to your WiFi system. The former is welcome news, since the more complex our gadgets become, the less likely they’ll include an instruction manual.
An HDMI cable (sold separately) connects the player to your television. The Roku’s small but powerful remote control uses Bluetooth technology and fits cozily in your hand. The Bluetooth system means you don’t need a direct sight line from remote to player to use. That comes in handy when using the remote to play some games accessible via the system.
Channels, We Have Channels
That’s only the beginning of the available content – 1,000 channels can be tapped by the device according to the manufacturer. Channels dads will dig include ESPN, MLB.TV, NBA Game Time, NHL Game Center Live and PBS Kids. Other notable streaming destinations include Facebook, Pandora, Spotify, The Onion and Vimeo. Those looking to get fit can choose from a dizzying array of workout videos, many of which come free.
Many dads go the streaming route to cut their cable cords and save cash. Just know that Roku users won’t have full access to all that streaming content without paying an extra fee. Some channels, like MLB.TV, require a subscription. Others, including some of the content available via the ESPN channel, demand a separate cable or satellite subscription.
You may also sit through a commercial or two before watching some videos. A quick look at the Fox News channel requires watching a 30-second spot before seeing Bill O’Reilly chat politics with Charles Krauthammer. The quality of some of the streams isn’t up to HD standards, but that fault lies with the individual channels, not Roku.
Eager to find something specific in streaming land? Go to Roku’s home page and hit the general search button. It’ll scour through all the available channels and call up your options. It’s a great time saver.
Let’s Get Technical
The player comes set at 720p, so if you have an HD television you’ll need to go into the Settings mode and bump up the resolution to 1080p for the clearest picture. You’ll also want to tweak the sound settings if you want 7.1-channel Dolby Digital. That’s a tip that should have been mentioned in the instructions.
In just a few short days my Roku 2 player froze once, forcing me to unplug the power cord and plug it back in to restore the system. Otherwise, the viewing experience has been consistently pleasant. The menus are intuitive, the remote control handy and the back button responds swiftly when called upon. In short, it works far better in nearly every way than my current Blu-ray player for streaming content.
One unexpected Roku bonus – the remote control features a headphones jack that allows you to privately listen to streaming content without disturbing others.
The Roku 2 Streaming Player sells for a suggested retail price of $79.99. Fathers eager to explore the booming world of streaming content or simply say goodbye to large cable bills won’t regret giving this player a spin.
Update: Shortly after publishing this review the remote for the Roku 2 stopped working. I did a quick web search and found a site recommending I depress a purple button within the remote that can only be seen when you remove the battery panel. The tip suggested you hold the button down for 30 seconds when you’re in the Roku screen saver mode (the Roku logo bounces across the screen). This tip worked for me. You may want to contact Roku for help should your remote stop working, but I wanted readers to know how I was able to fix the issue.
Note: Roku provided Daddylibrium with a free sample of the Roku 2 Streaming Player in exchange for an honest review.