Time to buy a Roku?

Been thinking of buying a Roku?  Confused by all the models and all the prices?  Ben’s Outlet sells factory refurbished Roku 2 XS streamers for $54.99 shipped every day.

The Roku 2 XS is my favorite Roku. It has composite and hdmi outputs, so it works with older televisions as well as modern HDTVs. You can use the composite audio to drive an auxiliary input on a home theater so that you can turn your tv off while enjoying internet radio or your MP3 collection on the Roku. The XS also has a usb port, so you can connect a usb disk full of videos or MP3s. The R2XS also has both wired and wireless ethernet. In my experience, the wireless radio is very good.

Reburbs are good as new!  Roku warrants refurbs with the same 90 warranty you get with a new model and the refurbs are mostly open box returns, so the discount is real.  I had a problem with a remote which came with a refurbished Roku 2 XS.  I clicked the chat link on the Roku support page and, after a few minutes of troubleshooting, they shipped me a new remote.  Roku stands behind their refurbs.

What exactly is a streaming media player? I keep forgetting some people do not know about streaming.  A streaming media player is a device that formats files and streams available on the internet for presentation on a television.  Generally, you get a nice menu and a remote and an interface that allows you to connect your streamer to the interface via your internet service provider.  That might not sound very exciting, but I promise you Netflix is more exciting on a 50″ plasma that a 15″ laptop and the Roku’s remote works better than a mouse.

Can I cut my cable if I buy a Roku?  No.  If you enjoy local programming, cable sports, continuous programming, or time shifting, the Roku 3 is not going to replace your cable or broadcast television service.  I think Roku and other streaming media interests misrepresent themselves as a substitute for cable or broadcast television.  It’s obvious that they are not once you plug the device in and, as a consequence, there is no shortage of refurbished Rokus.

Why do I need a Roku?  You don’t.  But, you may want one.  While the Roku is no substitute for cable or broadcast television, it is a great supplement.  In fact, you might find that buying a Roku will allow you to ‘trim’ your cable service.  I personally prefer to wait for a popular series to arrive on Netflix.  The reward for my patience is a block of drama or comedy in a couple days that most have to experience over a year.  I like that a lot.

And there are a lot of compelling channels…

  • ADC: Free movie channel
  • Amazon Cloud Player: Play all the free music Amazon sends my way
  • CNN: Includes CNN International Live for background news and information
  • Crackle: Sony’s FREE version of Netflix
  • CS50: Harvard Intor to Computer Science course
  • Comedy Time: ‘Play All’ makes for good background noise
  • CBSSports.com: ‘Play All’ feature makes for a nice sports news channel
  • CNBC: Streaming business news for news and information
  • FoxNews: Stream from web site plus clips of popular shows with ‘Play All’
  • Kaplan College Prep: Help your kid with his SATs
  • Lecture Kings: Librivox audio box is hidden in a channel of university lectures
  • Netflix
  • Nowhere TV: To install Nowhere TV on your Roku, click here
  • OVGuide: Free movie channel
  • Playon: To install the Private Playon channel, click here
  • Plex: Stream your own files to your Roku via a Plex Server; lost of supported and unsupported channels too
  • Popcornflix
  • Popflix Classic TV: 26 Men, Adventures of Robin Hood, The Beverly Hillbillies, Bonanza, Burns and Allen, Date with the Angels, Dragnet, Life with Elizabeth, The Lone Ranger, The Lucy Show, Man with a Camera, Petticoat Junction, Sherlock Holmes, Westerns, You Bet Your Life
  • PubDHub: The stuff your dad used to reminisce about — ancient cartoons, PSAs, commercials, and movies
  • Smithsonian: Better than the Discovery channel
  • TWiT: Steve Gibson, Leo Laporte, and others talk tech
  • WSJ Live: WSJ had good election coverage

On the horizon… There are some cool things going on in the internet television arena.  As disappointing as Simple has been, a lot of early adopters are pretty satisfied.  Simple.tv allows you to watch broadcast television on a Roku.  Aereo streams broadcast television to your Roku via the internet.  Aereo is going national this summer after fighting the cable companies in the courts most of last year.  Time Warner Cable (TWC) has a Roku channel that will let its customers use a Roku as a set top box replacement.

By Len Mullen Posted in News

3 comments on “Time to buy a Roku?

  1. Hi
    I am thinking about cutting the cable cord. I have a digital antenna and get all the local channels. I was planning on getting a PC and hooking it up to my TV to play all the online content and also look for a DVR type solution for the content through the antenna. Where would the Roku fit in? Could it replace the PC (for a lot less money)?

    • I suggest you check out my other blog — http://thebeersoncomcast.wordpress.com where I have been doing exactly that. My favorite DVR is the Echostar DTVPal which is only available on ebay right now. I have five of these and LOVE them. I am just starting to look at using some kind of PVR software to capture programming to my Plex server. XBMC may be the answer, but follow that blog if you are interested.

  2. Besides the Ben’s refurb pricing, Sam’s Club is also clearancing their inventory of Roku 2 XS’s. These are new and are bundled with an HDMI cable, for $56 plus tax. Since this is a clearance, YMMV whether your local Sam’s have them in stock or not – you can check your store by going to the website. Note: the price will NOT be shown until you put one in your cart and begin the checkout process.


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