Should I Buy The Roku 3? What Is The Best Streaming Device Out? What Does the Roku 3 provide?
It’s one of the questions you may be asking yourself when looking to purchase a new streaming device. Something to watch Netflix or Amazon prime on, or maybe something to replace your cable subscription. I began cord cutting around 3 years ago, back when there was a small but growing list of devices to choose from. Now, that list of available devices continues to grow but the Roku has always been a very popular device that is highly suggested by multiple sources. But should you buy it? Is this device right for you? This article should answer that question and a few others including covering some of the features of the Roku 3, it’s competitors, where to buy the device, etc.
Commonly referred to as THE set-top-box to own Roku is no newcomer to the streaming community. On March 5th 2013 Roku announced the release of its updated media player, The Roku 3. The cost of the Roku 3 currently (2014) is around 99 dollars new and about 80 dollars used. You can buy it from multiple locations. Walmart should have it in stock in the electronics department, so should Target. You can also pick it up online from Amazon. http://amzn.com/B00BGGDVOO
The Roku 3 brings a huge boost in performance, especially regarding its CPU sporting a BCM11130 at around 900 MHz. If that doesn’t mean anything to you don’t worry, just know its faster than the Roku 2. One of the biggest missing features often sought after by cord cutters is the YouTube channel and Roku indicated that prior devices could not support YouTube possibly due to limited system resources. This issue was fixed with the Roku 3, and the YouTube channel was added to the official channel selection and it works quite nicely.
Are You Looking To Cut The Cable Cord and Save Some Cash? Will The Roku Help Me Achieve That Goal?
In short, yes. You can cut the cable cord and save a good amount of money by switching your tv viewing habits to the Roku. For most of my friends and family the main reason to purchase a Roku or similar device is to stop paying exorbitant cable bills. This is the reason I use the Roku. But, how much can you save and what is the experience going to be like compared to your existing setup?
Is It Cheaper Than My Cable? How Much Will I Save?
For me my cable bill by itself was around 50 USD. So I am saving roughly around 40 dollars a month accounting for my monthly subscription to Netflix. But you could save more or less. It depends on how much you currently spend on Cable/Satellite tv. The Roku doesn’t have to be a cable replacement. It can be a cable supplement. It just depends on what your looking for. While the Roku does have some free streaming media on the device, most will subscribe to a streaming service like Netflix, Hulu, or Amazon Prime.
General Prices as of 2014
Netflix: $8.00 per month
Hulu: $8.00 per month
Amazon Prime: $99 per year
Generally speaking I would say you can watch almost everything you currently watch (minus sports and premium content like HBO) with Netflix + Hulu.
I have 8 TV’s, two in each bathroom, three in the attic
If you have multiple TV’s that you watch television on simultaneously then you should know that a single Roku device is capable of streaming content to one TV just like a normal cable box. If you want to watch television on multiple TV’s at the same time, then you would need multiple devices at each TV. The price of a single Roku 3 device is currently around $100 USD (2014). Remember that most cable services are charging you a rental fee for any box’s of theirs you use anyways.
What Channels are available on the Roku 3?
Lots. To many to list them all. You can browse the available channels/apps here.
It supports the usual suspects. Netflix, Amazon instant video, Vudu, HuluPlus, Crackle, etc. But it has many other channels like Lifetime, QVC, HSN, PBS Kids, Ted Talks, Revision3, and Watch ESPN. And don’t forget the recently added YouTube channel.
Naturally, the Roku cannot access iTunes rentals/purchases. If you are heavily invested into the Apple Eco system then you may want to consider another device like the Apple TV.
External Media, Collection on Hard Drive, Media Support
The Roku 3 officially supports MP4 and MKV for video playback and JPG and PNG for images. If you have a huge collection of media on storage, you may want to consider a different setup. Maybe a dedicated media center running XBMC. There is however a simple solution, purchase the Plex Application on the Roku (currenlty $5 USD) and you can then stream to your hearts content.
How big is the device?
In short, its small. You can see from the pictures above that its about the size of an average mens trifold wallet, or a Compact Disk. The device has some added weight, which is a good thing because it holds the device I place when you plug in your power and hdmi cables. The device hides easily behind your tv or other media devices but is aesthetically sound if you wanted to leave it out for display. The device includes the company’s telltale purple clothing like Roku tag on the side.
The controller with the Roku 3 has one of the best features that really make this a great device. A simple audio jack. It seems obvious but the Roku 3 is the only streaming device that includes a remote with an audio jack. This gives you the ability to control the volume from the remote and listen/watch shows without disturbing others. Great for watching TV in bed while others are sleeping.
The controller also has some motion capabilities similar to the Wii remote used for games. Though I wouldn’t recommend buying this device just for gaming it is a small added benefit. Some of the included games are Angry Birds, Blackjack, Bork, and Centipede. The remote does feel light. I have not had any issues from the remote after numerous drops.
I did notice that the battery life of the remote while using the headphone jack is very short. I would estimate around 10-15 hours of head phone use total before you would need to replace the battery. If you don’t use the headphone jack however, the remote has lasted on the same battery’s for multiple months. I would suggest investing in a good set of rechargeable battery’s if you plan on using the headphone jack often.
The interface is very fluid, responsive and appealing. I’m pleased to say that the interface is not sluggish. It’s not lighting fast, but not slow either. Roku’s new interface (as shown below in the pictures) makes great use of space. You will notice some advertisements in the interface which at fist I didn’t care for. But as time passed I actually enjoy the advertisements as they seem to make suggestions that I’m interested in.
Free IOS and Android App
Turn your phone into an extra remote. Roku provides a free IOS and Android app that is very convenient and works really well. With this app you can play content from your phone to your Roku, install new channels, manage existing channels, and work with your settings.
Other Nice Additions
Unlike the Apple TV, the Roku 3 includes a MicroSD slot, USB 3.0 port, and support for Amazon Instant Video.
Is The Roku 3 The Best Device Out?
This is highly subjective to your needs. I would consider the top three devices out as of July 2014: Roku, Apple TV, Amazon Fire TV. I would go as far to say that the Roku 3 is better than the Apple TV as long as you are not heavily invested in the Apple ecosystem. If you buy everything on iTunes, then obviously you would get better use out of the Apple TV. But the Roku 3 is an awesome device and I would still say it’s a better device than the Apple TV.
Is it worth 100 dollars? I would say Yes.
Check out this feature comparison provided by Roku compared to the Apple TV
https://www.roku.com/roku3-vs-appletv – Subjective I know but worth your time.
Whats Everyone Else Saying?
The Verge: David Pierce from The Verge scored the Roku 3 an 8.9 out of 10 (10 being the best) stating “It’s the best, most versatile, and most usable set-top box on the market, and buying it is a no-brainer.”
Some of Verges example of cons for this device are outdated. They state that no official Youtube app is available, which is no longer true.
Cnet’s Matthew Moskovciak states “The Roku 3 is the best streaming-video box yet, with tons of content sources, lightning-fast performance, and an innovative remote with built-in headphone jack.“
In case you need more information, here are some other great video reviews of the Roku 3
What’s Your Opinion?
Do you own a Roku 3, did you purchase one after reading this article? Do you use the audio jack? Let us know your thoughts below in the comments.
Other Reviews you may be interested in: