Roku 2 Review
The Roku 2 is a top contender, offering all the essentials of the Roku ecosystem at a lower cost than the top-of-the-line box. Owners miss out on a few bells and whistles but still get a remote with a headphone jack for viewing without disrupting someone else in the same room. The Roku 2 also works with both HD and standard-definition TVs. For some, such features may be worth an extra $30 over the Roku Streaming Stick.
Roku 2 reviews often come from consumers who've cut their cable service (and bill) and replaced it with the one-time cost of a Roku and a few monthly subscriptions to streaming services. With both HDMI and RCA output, this set-top box can hook up to almost any TV and reviewers say it's easy to set up and use (although buyers must purchase an HDMI cable separately). On the Best Buy website, one customer crows that even 80-year-old grandparents have no trouble using it (after a little training). Hundreds of other customers have left feedback on the site, and only a handful of the Roku 2 reviews lean negative.
This model (starting at $70, Amazon) features dual-band wireless for a quick and reliable connection, although some owners would prefer the option of an even more stable Ethernet connection (available on the Roku 3). The remote includes a headphone jack for late-night watching without disturbing the house and channel shortcut buttons for quick access to Netflix, Blockbuster, M-Go streaming movies, and Amazon Instant Video. The Roku 2 no longer has a microSD port, which allowed owners to store more games and channels on the box, or the analog stereo output that some consumers may need for their stereo systems. The pricier Roku 3 has the former but not the latter; those with home stereo systems should consider an older Roku or a competitor such as Apple TV or Amazon Fire TV.
Where to buy
Roku doesn't support the same mirroring of a computer's desktop to a TV screen that Apple TV and Chromecast enable, nor direct access to media from iTunes or Google Play. However, users can play content that's stored on a computer using the Plex channel on Roku. A Gizmodo reader who owns both Apple TV and Roku comments that the Apple TV comes in handy for mirroring and iTunes content, but overall the Roku gets used more often.
Roku 2 reviews on Amazon point to ease of use and access to so much content as primary selling points for this set-top box. One reviewer who owns both a Roku 2 and Roku 3 provides an in-depth comparison between the two. He concludes that the Roku 2 is a better device for the money unless you really want the Ethernet connection, casting from the YouTube mobile app, or a motion-control remote for gaming. Overall the Roku is a top choice for anyone looking to add streaming media to a home theater or cut the cable cord.