Cutting Cable Without Suffering: Roku Digital Video Player

Unplggd Test Lab

Product: Roku SD
Price: $79.99
Rating: Recommend

The current economy has forced most people to cut back on their spending. We at Unplggd are no different and have shown you ways reduce bills. One of the most prominent suggestions is to ditch cable and rely on internet streaming for TV and movies. We did not however like the idea of being chained to our computer desks for our nightly TV shows. Enter the Roku digital video player, a small simple device purpose built for streaming media right to the comfort of your living room.

The Roku box was a confusing thing when it arrived at our house: small, black and with no buttons except for those on the remote. Roku’s stark simplicity is radically different from the average consumer product we are used to. The simple instructions said to just plug it into the TV, power it up, and enter the wireless network password.

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Tech Specs:

  • 5 x 5 x 1.75 inches
  • Networking: 802.11 G Wi-Fi, 10/100 Ethernet
  • Video outputs: Composite S video
  • Price: $ 79.99 Amazon

Once the Roku box was booted up and connected to our network, the box then asked us to register on Roku.com. The various streaming sites require a separate pin to be entered for each service. That was the least streamlined aspect of the set up process but when completed our Netflix cue and Amazon streaming purchases were right there ready to be played.

Video Quality:
Video playback from the device amazed us, especially since this was the SD version. The movies and television shows we played were clear and stutter free over our 10 megabit cable internet. What we saw out of the SD Roku box on our CRT televisions was almost the same quality as a cable television channel.

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Yes, it's only a CRT set, but the playback quality is fantastic for non-HD playback and "good enough" for our girlfriend.

Another noted feature of the Roku box was the user interface. It was simple and clutter free, but a bit confusing due to the hierarchical nature. The messiness does not diminish the products core features, but it did lack the familiar simplicity of the TiVo that we are used to. One feature we readily came to love was the remote. It is simple, tough, and only has four buttons, easing navigation considerably.

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The only complaints we had were that to truly utilize the Roku box, the user had to have a Netflix subscription. Netflix is not expensive and includes DVD’s with their streaming service but, it is a monthly fee nonetheless.

Bottom Line:
The Roku SD is perfect for the individual who has not made the jump to HD and is not finding cable television tailored for their lives. Roku’s simplicity and ease of use make it perfect for the techy looking to save.

*Our Ratings.
Strong Recommend

Recommend

Weak Recommend
Don’t Recommend

Apartment Therapy Media makes every effort to test and review products fairly and transparently. The views expressed in this review are the personal views of the reviewer and this particular product review was not sponsored or paid for in any way by the manufacturer or an agent working on their behalf. However, the manufacturer did give us the product for testing and review purposes.