Six Months with the Roku

In the six months after buying the Roku box (my full review), quite a few things happened: I canceled our Comcast subscription, bought an indoors antenna, we bought a GoogleTV (wish we hadn’t), Netflix added lots of new streaming content, bought a laptop with HDMI-out, while Roku added Hulu Plus and USB local playback support. So how things are going on? Great! Just great.

The Roku is now my primary way of getting entertainment: Netflix and Vimeo are my primary channels, with Hulu via my laptop (mostly for Stargate:Universe), while our aerial antenna is used no more than 3-4 times a week (The Event, V, Vampire Diaries, Fringe). The Roku has a few bugs (e.g. some horizontal lines for videos that are wider than 16:9, rebooting occasionally after becoming slow), but overall it offers the best experience. It’s richer in content than our AppleTV, and way simpler to use than the Frankenstein GoogleTV.

Research found that many people can’t cut the cord because they have kids/wives that require specific kid/reality programming, but Netflix now carries lots of that on its streaming service. For $10 per month you should be able to get a lot of such programming, which surely beats Comcast’s $90 per month I used to pay for the basic package of HD+DVR. Add an indoors antenna too, maybe get a laptop with HDMI-out for the free version of Hulu (if you can’t wait for the shows to show up on Netflix), and you’re in business!

Here’s my matrix, with 100 being the best:

TV OnD Movies Live TV Youtube, Vimeo Online apps (e.g. Pandora, podcasts) App SDK UI Local playback UPnP, DLNA, Airplay
Roku 75 75 20 90 90 75 75 60 10
AppleTV 60 50 20 40 20 10 90 60 70
GoogleTV 40 70 30 60 50 20 (web-only for now) 20 80 70
Boxee Box 40 50 20 60 50 60 40 90 90
WD TV 40 50 20 60 50 60 50 100 90
Sat/Cable 70 40 100 0 0 0 50 30 0
Antenna 0 10 80 0 0 0 N/A 0 0

Winner in my book is the Roku. Best $60 I ever spent (by far the cheapest of them all, except for the indoors antenna that cost me $36).

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