Roku has been building streaming media players since their relationship with Netflix many years ago. Now Roku is stepping up with a line of new streaming boxes that are capable of delivering content in 1080p HD, along with offering a slew of channels and services to stream content onto your TV.
The new Roku XD/S for $99 delivers a pretty top notch punch to the faces of greedy cable companies and gives those of us who believe cable is a has-been a new option for a la carte programming.
The Roku works on both HD and standard televisions, comes with an Ethernet connection on the back or you can go wireless with the Wi-Fi already built into the box. It has a HDMI video output along with component video, and an optical audio output for killer sound.
There’s a USB port that you can plug any USB drive into to access whatever media is on those drives, but not all codecs are supported so be forewarned, a list of specs can be found on Roku’s website. An update to the software will also be out in November to help address some of the codec issues with video files off of USB drives.
The unit is pretty sleek, really small not much bigger than an old school zip up CD case holder. Also comes with a remote, and features instant replay if you want to rewind and watch something over again. Setting up the Roku XD/S is very easy, but does require a bit of time when installing all your content accounts from online services such as Netflix where a functioning router set-up is required to port your online account to your Roku.
You’ll get access to Netflix, Amazon On-Demand, Flickr, MLB.com, Vimeo and other services that will charge for the rental or purchase of content from movies to television shows to live sporting events. If you purchase a Roku, Amazon On-Demand will give you a $10 credit to purchase on-demand content with that you can keep not just rent like on Apple TV.
Obviously if you are a TV junkie this isn’t going to replace your traditional cable package, but if you are one of the growing many who have gotten fed up with the cost of cable prices and the lack of quality channels paid for that price, this Roku XD/S may be the answer for your viewing needs. You’ll have to also be warned that a lot of the content streamed over Roku XD/S is not in full 1080p, most online services like Netflix and Amazon On-Demand still stream at 720p.