Roku is one of the pioneers in the media streamer market. Right from their founding in 2002, they have concentrated upon network streaming with only rudimentary local media support. While companies like Syabas were perfecting local media playback, Roku was furthering their network streaming ecosystem. The extensive SDK and support from Roku for channel creation has endeared them to users and content delivery guys alike. It might not be far off the mark to note that Roku has a cult-like following.

As Netflix streaming took off in a big way, Roku was there at the forefront to ride the wave. The 2008 Roku DVP was the first Netflix streamer, and Roku has been dutifully introducing new models every year since then. Till 2010, all the Roku models were based on an NXP chipset. Roku 2, introduced in 2011, completely revamped the platform. The rise of connected TVs and the Smart TV push from Intel forced Roku to rethink the strategy for their products. From being a plain network media streamer, it transformed into a palm sized casual gaming machine also.

Roku 2 Model Lineup at Launch
  A/V Options Max. Resolution Networking USB Support Remote Technology
Roku 2 HD Composite / HDMI 720p 802.11 b/g/n (2.4GHz) No IR (Bluetooth compatible)
Roku 2 XD Composite / HDMI 1080p 802.11 b/g/n (2.4GHz) No IR (Bluetooth compatible)
Roku 2 XS Composite / HDMI 1080p Fast Ethernet + 802.11 b/g/n (2.4GHz) Yes Bluetooth (IR compatible)

We tested out the top end unit in the lineup. The Roku 2 XS comes with the Bluetooth based gestural remote control and also comes with the Angry Birds game for free.

It is the only unit in the lineup to have support for wired Ethernet as well as a USB port for local media playback. This has given us a chance to evaluate all that Roku has to offer with the Roku 2 lineup.

Unboxing and Setup Impressions
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  • isorashi - Tuesday, October 4, 2011 - link

    I only use it for Netflix in the bedroom, and for that it serves its purpose pretty well. I did get the XS model though, and was really disappointed that they yanked support for MKV containers. When I ordered it, I actually checked that it supported matroska, but when it arrived days later I discovered that the information I had read was out-of-date. They actually had supported formats listed in two different locations on their site, and I just happened to look at the old one. :-/

    I tend to rip dvds to a format that my ps3 supports, and the roku plays those back perfectly fine. However, I was planning on watching fan-subbed anime using the roku, but the lack of MKV support blew that plan out of the water.
  • Aditya369 - Tuesday, October 4, 2011 - link

    Any idea, when youtube is coming back to roku2.
  • richardevans - Tuesday, January 3, 2012 - link

    I have two Roku SMP's. All you have to do is scroll down the page to where it states something like skip this step and away you go. It's small (intentionally) but it is there. Or you can call customer service and they will set up an account for you without a credit card. I've never had a problem setting up my boxes and my new Roku 2 XS is my third Roku. It's a great player that in simple terms 'just works.' I tried out the new WDTV and the latest Sony just recently and they both failed that test. The WDTV had too many issues to list and the Sony wouldn't remember my network from day to day. The Roku has an open SDK so many developers are working on it. Bugs get fixed in short order nad new channels are added. Don't let the CC issue deter you from a great streaming media player.
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