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Roku XD Streaming Player 1080p Review

By Guy Verona - Thursday, October 28, 2010

One the big new tech trends that analysts are expecting to be take off in a big way this Christmas, is the ability to stream internet based content to your television. There has been a lot of talk recently about Apple and Google TV services, but they aren’t the only ones trying to cash in on this potentially lucrative market.

Roku XD Streaming Player

Roku are a Californian tech company who have been producing internet based streaming media boxes that work with televisions for the last two years, a venture they started with the Netflix orientated device, the Roku SD . Today I’m going to take a look at their latest offering, the Roku XD Streaming Player .

Features

Major Internet Channels Available

There are a number of other channels, like Cowboy Classics, Midnight Movies and Kung Fu Theater, though none of them are very high profile. If you’re interested in a complete listing check out the Roku channel store.

One very obvious site that seems to be missing from that list is YouTube. Luckily that’s easily fixed, as whilst Roku themselves don’t pre-load a channel for YouTube onto the Roku box, its very easy to find out how to do so yourself with a normal desktop computer. The only reason I can imagine Roku would have for leaving YouTube off of the box, is if Google themselves refused to grant them a license for the site. Which they may have done due to their own internet TV expansion plans, though that is purely speculation on my part.

As a machine which is designed purely for streaming sound and images from the internet onto a television screen, the Roku XD performs admirably. Providing that the box is connected to a fast enough broadband connection to adequately stream the requested media, viewers are unable to tell the difference between watching shows delivered by the Roku and those delivered by a traditional cable set top box.

If the out of the box channels on offer with the Roku are enough, all you need to do is plug the XD streaming player into your TV, turn it on, synch it with your wireless network and you will be good to go in under five minutes. Adding “custom” channels is a little trickier, requiring the use of a computer to enter special codes into the Roku to call up the unauthorized channels, but even that isn’t particularly hard to do.

Reviews for this device have actually been mostly positive, despite the fact it doesn’t include all the features that Google and Apple are banking on to make their internet TV boxes a success. Namely the ability to actually browse the internet, access Apps and play games. However, it also doesn’t come with a $200 price tag attached, which probably helped its case quite a bit.

At just $80 the Roku XD Streaming Player
reminds me a lot of the original freeview boxes that started cropping up when digital television was first being introduced. It can’t do everything its more impressive and expensive cousins can, but it is very good at the what it does do. With that in mind, I would say that as a cheap (semi-portable) alternative to a cable television subscription plan, the Roku XD Streaming Player
is well worth the money.

I give it 4.5 out of 5 stars. If you want to cancel your cable and make the move to internet based TV, but don’t want to pay what Apple or Google are asking for services you probably won’t even use, this could be the box for you.





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