Roku HD (2012) is the base model of the Roku 2 family of media streamers. The others include Roku 2 XS which is more superior in profile. Roku updated the Roku player this year; loading it with new features and smaller boxes and more competitive prices than Apples’ $99 player. It is tinier and designed specifically to play back streaming video on TV.
With the support of popular streaming options including Amazon instant video, Netflix, Pandora, Hulu Plus, MLB.tv and a rapidly growing base of other channels too, Roku 2 HD is a tough competitor for Apple’s offerings.
The most striking features of the Roku 2 HD are Connectivity; the streamer has a range of connection interfaces Categorized as follows: Network – wireless 802.11 b/g/n for wireless streaming with Bluetooth, Audio/Video – standard HDMI (High Definition Media Interface) port for HDMI audio/video devices, Composite S-Video for standard video output. Other inputs include HDMI for connecting to high definition devices and a microSD card slot.
Media Content – Unlike AppleTV, Roku has hundreds of content providers. Live TV streams, Pandora and video podcasts are among the vast range of multimedia content supported by the Roku 2 HD
To add to the seamless connectivity is the Remote Control – a Bluetooth remote control that can also be used as a game controller adds on top of the tiny device.
Quality of the Roku 2 HD Media Streamer
With 720p HD video, the 2 HD offers decent quality video especially given that comparison with the superior 1080p output by the 2 XD shows little difference.
The lack of an Ethernet port means dealing with often problematic WIFI, a feature easily offered in Apple’s 3rd Gen. However, this is eliminated with the XS model which also adds a USB port enabling you to copy videos onto a USB hard drive; something not possible with the Apple 3rd Generation
Strengths – it is Cheap, easy video streaming and a wide range of content providers.
Weaknesses – supports only 720p for HD video, lacks Ethernet support thus WIFI only may not be desirable, plus it is not that easy to stream from a PC.
Conclusion – While Roku aggressively addresses some of the missing items in Apple TV, challenges concerning streaming only networked video from one’s home through 3rd parties make it a little uncomfortable to highly recommend. However, consumers can enjoy its great features. The Roku 2HD costs about $60.