Roku 2 XS Review

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The Roku XS is a small puck like device similar in look and feel to the Apple TV. The XS however, manages to be smaller in size than its apple equivalent and that’s where the similarities end.

If you’ve had any experience with the first generation of Roku, you’ll know what the device uses the “channel” metaphor when organizing your online media i.e. each source, like Hulu or Netflix, is represented by its own side scrolling icon on the screen. Its available channels, both paid and free, now number over 350.

Like its first generation predecessor, the XS remains the flag ship of Roku devices. The second generation of the device has learnt a few new tricks, specifically the addition of a motion control remote, which acts much like the Wii remote; a MicroSD slot, Bluetooth, and the addition of a FREE Full edition of Angry Birds.

This is not a Roku review but rather a hands on impression of the second generation of Roku Devices. Thus, I will only touch on a few aspects of the device. Setup, Channels, Angry bird Channel and micro SD card slot.

Setup

Nothing new here, the setup of the device remains unchanged from the first generation. It requires you to setup a membership on the roku.com website, and attach a credit card to this membership. If you’re setting up the device using the available Ethernet port you can literally complete your setup in less than 5 minutes. If you need to setup the Wi-Fi connection (which I highly recommend) you can add a few extra minutes to this setup. All things considered, it will take you less than 10 minutes from unboxing to full operational use.

 

Adding channels

Roku’s dedicated channel store is the best and only way to subscribe to new internet content. The store currently boasts over 350 channels ranging from Bollywood Movies to HBO Go. For a full list of channels visit http://www.roku.com/roku-channel-store#1. The 3 step process to adding a channel is very intuitive:

1. Locate and select channel store

2. Browse and select channel

3. Subscribe to channel.

Unlike other media extenders which I have used this simplicity was a factor when choosing to purchase a Roku device.

Angry Birds Channel

Roku’s venture into the gaming space can be called pedestrian. Better than angry birds, I would have liked to see a more complex game debuted. I found that the draw of Angry birds on a big screen was non-existent. The almost addictive quality of the originally mobile game, does not translate to the full screen. Of all the available games on the Roku channel I found the most compelling to be Pac-Man for the nostalgia.

The stand out gaming feature of this device appears to be the remote which really opens itself up to Wii style gaming for under 100 USD. I’m looking forward to see what developers do with the combination of device and remote, or how the guys at Nintendo decide to address this potential competitor.

MicroSD and Bluetooth

On finding out that the new Roku devises will come equipped with a micro SD slots, I was a little perplexed what the use of this slot would be. I had initially thought that it would be used for delivering media to the device, however the guys over at Roku have dedicated the microSD slot as storage for channels and games. Apparently, they are some of you out there who want to own all 350 plus Roku channels. The microSD slot will be used to store lesser used channels in hopes of improving channel load times and overall responsiveness of the device.

I have not had much of an opportunity to test out the Bluetooth connectivity on the device. I will be sure to update this review after I have had a chance to do so.

Overall Impressions

The Roku2 is a solidly built device with an ever growing store for online content. It should definitely be a contender in any Media Extender purchasing decision you make in the future. With its new gaming features and remote which doubles as a gaming controller, it is clear that Roku has decided to through its hat into the gaming ring. It would be interesting to see how the device evolves over the next few generations.