Ever since I got my Roku last year, I was completely sold. This set top box was the David to Apple’s Goliath (Apple TV). The prices matched Apple’s and the content was plentiful – It even had content Apple didn’t.
Now, it’s taking the game one step further. By making this into a gaming system. Adding Angry Birds to the line-up, you can now play the game on the big screen. But how will this stack up?
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Size Does Matter, if it’s smaller
The first noticeable difference is the size. From 5″ x5″ to 3 – 3/8″ square (which is smaller than Apple TV), the Roku 2 could be placed closer to a TV set. The puck-like shape connected to HDMI, composite, USB and micro SD cards. The Optical audio port and component video was missing on this new version, which I found a bit odd. Older TV sets will have to use the AV cable or get a converter box.
Another thing Roku did was switch the importance of wired vs wireless. Last year, the high-end XD/S model got Wireless N, while the low-end model was Ethernet only. Now, the low-end model is Wireless b/g/n and the XS model has that and also an Ethernet port.
Playing in Full 1080p
with the beefed up processor (not sure what it is, but probably the next version of Nexperia) and 256 MB of RAM, you can watch your movies in full 1080 – 5.1 stereo sound. I did notice a better resolution when switching between the old and the new.
Yes, they did skimp on adding memory, but the micro SD card can make up for that. Especially when the games come out. Right now, you can only put four games onto the box. By adding the microSD, you can increase to 16.
Games on Roku – Angry Birds, Pac Man and more
Right now we got Angry Birds. Not unusual, since that is one of the hottest games out there. But slated for future release is Pac-Man, Galaga and other Namco games. Oh yeah, those games will not be free.
The Roku Remote
While I am still disappointed that the remote is way too simple (lacking a keyboard of sorts), I am interested in the game-style they chose. You can use it as a motion controller, or flip it to the side and use like an old NES stick. A lanyard is supplied so you don’t accidentally throw the remote at the TV.
Caution: Take the Batteries out of the other Roku Remote
I found it cool that the older remote still worked on the new box. That changed when I started to use the motion remote. It was laggy and hard to control. After a few minutes I thought about the old remote and realized that could be the issue. Once I took the batteries out, the new remote started to work a lot better.
Switching from Roku to Roku 2
So as to not lose your settings, you should log into your Roku account from a computer before entering the pairing code at first startup. That way, Roku will properly download the content on your machine.
Verdict on Roku 2
So far, I have seen video improvements in the new box. The modified remote is a good step forward, but really needs some more buttons. I really wished they would have went away from the 1 horizontal line menu – It gets to be too cumbersome if you have a lot of applications on it.
If you have the XD/S, then the main reason you would get the XS would be for the gaming options. If you are looking to get into Over the Top television and are pricing set top boxes, then Roku is the way to go. It’s just best to get the $99 model for the added features (including the USB port). The $60 and $80 models would be for anyone that doesn’t have a 1080p TV and just wants to watch Netflix or Amazon movies.
No matter what, Roku is the best value in set top boxes right now. Hands down. So get yourself a Roku here.