Roku is one of the pioneers in the media streamer market. Right from their founding in 2002, they have concentrated upon network streaming with only rudimentary local media support. While companies like Syabas were perfecting local media playback, Roku was furthering their network streaming ecosystem. The extensive SDK and support from Roku for channel creation has endeared them to users and content delivery guys alike. It might not be far off the mark to note that Roku has a cult-like following.

As Netflix streaming took off in a big way, Roku was there at the forefront to ride the wave. The 2008 Roku DVP was the first Netflix streamer, and Roku has been dutifully introducing new models every year since then. Till 2010, all the Roku models were based on an NXP chipset. Roku 2, introduced in 2011, completely revamped the platform. The rise of connected TVs and the Smart TV push from Intel forced Roku to rethink the strategy for their products. From being a plain network media streamer, it transformed into a palm sized casual gaming machine also.

Roku 2 Model Lineup at Launch
  A/V Options Max. Resolution Networking USB Support Remote Technology
Roku 2 HD Composite / HDMI 720p 802.11 b/g/n (2.4GHz) No IR (Bluetooth compatible)
Roku 2 XD Composite / HDMI 1080p 802.11 b/g/n (2.4GHz) No IR (Bluetooth compatible)
Roku 2 XS Composite / HDMI 1080p Fast Ethernet + 802.11 b/g/n (2.4GHz) Yes Bluetooth (IR compatible)

We tested out the top end unit in the lineup. The Roku 2 XS comes with the Bluetooth based gestural remote control and also comes with the Angry Birds game for free.

It is the only unit in the lineup to have support for wired Ethernet as well as a USB port for local media playback. This has given us a chance to evaluate all that Roku has to offer with the Roku 2 lineup.

Unboxing and Setup Impressions
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  • arswihart - Friday, September 30, 2011 - link

    You need to know about the MyMedia local streaming channel, which lets you watch your videos on any Roku device by installing the channel and running a small server program on your home computer. Quality is excellent, as expected, you can get the highest quality the Roku is capable of and speed will be better than anything because it's on your home network, not over the internet. It also plays music and displays photos. The only significant downside for video is that you do often need to re-encode to one of the supported formats, but that's to be expected: http://forums.roku.com/viewtopic.php?t=25955 Reply
  • ganeshts - Friday, September 30, 2011 - link

    The approach seems very similar to the one taken by Plex (which I already mentioned in the review). Plex seems to transcode, but MyMedia doesn't seem to (as far as I can see). Roku 2's native support is abysmal (No MPEG-2 / MPEG-4 / DivX / XVid support? Almost all SD media is in one of those codecs).

    If you have the necessity to play local media, I suggest getting a cheap Seagate media player or Patriot Box Office (often found for < $50 on the deal sites). I would never recommend transcoding and/or re-encoding of existing content.
    Reply
  • arswihart - Friday, September 30, 2011 - link

    Can't say I disagree, but if you have a Roku and you want to use it for local media, it is probably the best available solution, and it works great if you have your videos in the right format. You can automate the pre-transcoding by setting up Handbrake to convert every video file that shows up in a designated folder:
    http://forums.roku.com/viewtopic.php?f=28&t=36...
    Reply
  • ganeshts - Friday, September 30, 2011 - link

    The specifics in that thread are for the previous generation Roku. Current generation doesn't support MKVs yet. But, yes, definitely a helpful link for users of the previous generation Rokus. Reply
  • AmdInside - Friday, September 30, 2011 - link

    I've owned the Roku2 and returned it simply because the OS is slow, especially if you try to launch a Netflix 1080p video. I really wanted to like it and sell my ATV2 but alas, this product while offering more features, just isn't as well polished as the ATV2. Reply
  • RamarC - Friday, September 30, 2011 - link

    I know a roku or dedicated streamer will be better overall, but is a good bluray with dlna a good alternative for most folks? Reply
  • ganeshts - Friday, September 30, 2011 - link

    My belief is that any single device solution will always end up with a bad user experience in one department or the other. Good Blu-ray with DLNA will have bad experience with respect to local media playback. (Rudimentary DLNA profile support would imply that a majority of the user's media is rendered unsupported). Reply
  • Aditya369 - Friday, September 30, 2011 - link

    Considering both of them are available at similar price, How does it compare with revue. Reply
  • ganeshts - Friday, September 30, 2011 - link

    Revue doesn't have the special gaming remote or 1080p/DD+5.1 Netflix , but it has a host of other features.. In the end, it is going to be horses for courses.. The device I would recommend depends on the end user's usage scenario. If 1080p/DD+5.1 Netflix and casual gaming are not in your radar (i.e, just ordinary 720p Netflix will cut it for you), there is no need go with the Roku 2. Reply
  • Aditya369 - Friday, September 30, 2011 - link

    Thanks for feedback. I do not have setup up for DD+5.1. Will it possible to do everything on revue browser (like on laptop). Can it will play all the video content on internet. Reply

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