After food, water and housing are obtained, a person looks for other necessities and one of them is entertainment. Travelling, Sport, reading etc. are many forms of entertainment. But, one of the most popular form of entertainment today, is watching pre-recorded media. Movies, TV-shows, and listening to music are all part of the same. There is a never-ending list of media content available on the internet and can be accessed through computers and mobile devices. To watch them on your large LCD screen, you would require a cable connection which could sometimes prove expensive.
To overcome this, ROKU Inc has invented a digital player which can be attached to almost all types of television and then with the help of a Wi-Fi connection, stream the media content available on internet to your television thus overcoming the issue of watching on a small screen.
What is Roku Streaming Player?
Meaning the number six in Japanese language, it simply was named because this was the sixth business launched by its creators. The Roku streaming box has been around for more than a decade now, so it’s not a spring chicken in the market by any means. Simply put the Roku streaming player which runs on the LINUX operating system acts as a receiver in the conventional term and it streams media onto your television via a high-speed internet connection.
Current batch of almost all television sets have at least a couple of HDMI ports which can be used to plug in the Roku streaming stick, however it can also be plugged in through the now obsolete RCA audio and video cables for older TV, so in this way the Roku streaming player have a slight advantage over new entertainment sticks and devices.
What Can You View with Roku?
One of the first doubts that comes across is what is the media content that one can view with Roku streaming box. The answer is “Almost Everything”. Depending on location, a Roku user can get access up to 4500 channels. Popular channels like Netflix, Amazon video, Pandora, Vudu, Hulu and many more can be viewed on your TV. Major sporting events including ‘The Olympics ‘can be streamed live.
In simple words, you can view all the free channels that stream content over the internet, and you may have to pay for those which require subscription. In addition, users can access music, images and videos stored on other devices provided they are connected to the same network.
What does Roku Mobile App do?
Roku has ingeniously designed a mobile app for both iOS and Android platform that enables the user to control the Roku streaming box directly from mobile phone. The smartphone or tablet can send all its media content to the Roku streaming stick which enables the user to view it on TV. In addition, any content that is intended to be viewed on Roku streaming player can also be viewed on mobile phone.
Which Roku device is right for you?
Roku has designed quite a few models as per user requirements
The basic model offered by Roku enables the user to steam media in 1080 HD. It allows the users with older TV models to connect the device via A/V cables. Priced under $30 it the cheapest way to cut you cable bill and enjoy the media on internet.
The next in line model of Roku Devices can be described as the cheapest media streaming player with HD/4K/HDR support. Rightly priced under $40, it comes with a free Roku mobile app and easy-to-use remote.
Roku Streaming Stick
This portable streaming device comes with a point anywhere voice remote and can control your TV’s Power and volume buttons. It supports HDMI output and works with both Amazon’s Alexa and Google Assistant. Under $50, this device has a fast processor and is easy to use for the entire family.
Roku Streaming Stick +
The major difference is that with an additional cost of $10, users can upgrade to HD and 4K. The device also claims to have an advanced wireless receiver that is four times the normal range, making it perfect to connect to routers which are placed at a considerable distance.
Roku Ultra is indeed the ‘all options included’ product that boasts premium features. It not only contains all that is included in the other variants but also comprises of the following:
- USB and MicroSD ports.
- Ethernet Port for landline connections.
- Speaker built-in remote which can be activated by pressing a button on the box.
- Headphone jack included in remote.
- The only drawback is the $99 cost which tends to discourage many potential buyers.
Roku TV Box
A clever thinking on part of the Roku’s manufacturers was to collaborate with many TV manufacturers and embed the device into the TV itself thus eliminating the need to buy the device separately. The Roku TV box models are classified into two variants: HD and 4K.
HD Roku TV box. It contains all the basic features as found in Roku Premiere+ but does not provided the headphone jack in the remote.
4K Roku TV box. It contains all the features available in Roku Ultra except the HDR support.
Though these TV’s remove the hassle of purchasing a separate device, but I would still recommend that you probably get your favorite TV and purchase the Roku stick which could be easily carried anywhere. I cannot imagine travelling places with a TV in my pocket.
Now that the brain is overloaded with information about Roku, let me help you decide whether you should buy the product or not.
Summarizing the Benefits and Limitations
The benefits include:
- The first and foremost advantage of the Roku is its price tag. At below 100 USD or whereabouts it beats its rivals big time.
- Simple to set up and use- can be set up in a matter of minutes and has a dedicated Ethernet slot for wired use.
- The device comes with a remote control with audio jack input capability which can be used for a more personal viewing experience.
- Promise of update of software and firmware as and when required.
- Last but most important. Most of the content can be viewed whenever you want to and doesn’t require you to be present at a time.
A few limitations can be summarized as:
- Cannot be used on more than one device at a time
- No way to store and future watch your programs. The Roku does not carry any writeable media on its device.
- Interface is outdated currently.
- Older devices are bulky and clunky and not very appealing.
- You must pay for subscription services like Amazon Prime and Netflix.
Purchasing a Roku streaming box depends on three major factors namely:
Cost: If you wish to reduce your cost of entertainment.
Time: The time you spend watching TV.
Quality: If the quality of content does matter
Other factors like ease of usage, number of channels, viewing personal media can be achieved by other devices as well. But with Roku, an internet connection and a sizeable TV, the world of entertainment will never be the same.