Overview: Good once going, but needs a better out of box experience for content. 4 out of 5
Pros: Great value at $80, high quality picture, easy to set up, easy to use, great Netflix experience, easy to use Wi-Fi.
Cons: Default channels are lacking, hard to tell which channels are free or require subscriptions
My parents are just getting into the Netflix streaming service. They’ve got a Wii down in the basement which does a good job streaming but I wanted them to have better access to the Netflix library up in the kitchen or when they travel. I’d been thinking about getting them an Apple TV or a Roku. I’d been asking around the office to see what my co-workers recommended. All of them said Roku. I had initially been leaning towards Apple TV. Apple has UI and the out of box experience mastered. Both of my parents are in the Apple ecosystem. Despite my own intuition, I went Roku based on the feedback of my coworkers.
Ordering the Roku seemed simple enough. You go to their website, choose one of three models, swipe the credit card, and you’re done. A few days later I get an email saying the server goofed and my package will be going to the billing address and not the shipping address. I was instructed to call into support. It took 30 mins to reach someone. Given that it’s the holidays, I’ll forgive that. We were all busy. Once I got a hold of a representative, I was told he couldn’t help me and someone would call me back. I didn’t get a call back. I repeated the same process the next day with a 40 minute wait. I did get a call back. I didn’t get the ownership of my issue from the first point in contact. Lots of hopping around was required. The device came to my shipping address before I left for the holidays so I just hand carried it back to my destination.
Fast forward to the day after Christmas. Getting the Roku online was fast and easy. The Wi-Fi did a great job in that department. They had a simple wizard that walks you through the process. The default menu has all the big players featured: Netflix, Amazon, Hulu, plus a settings and channel store. I wanted to show them “you just click this button and stuff starts streaming.” With all the default services being premium content you have to “enroll” your Roku device in that service. There are some great channels that have free content like Roku Newscaster. It would be nice to have one or two of those channels featured on the default screen. Likewise it would be cool to have a marker in the channel store to denote free or premium content.
All in all my folks love the Roku. They called this past week to let me know they’ve streamed a few Netflix movies as well as watched the news on Roku. Would I purchase one again? Yes. Would I recommend it to a friend? Yes.