If you’re looking for a streaming device, the Roku 2 was one of the best in the business. We loved the Apple TV, but it didn’t offer Amazon integration. For people wanting to stream Netflix, Amazon and Hulu, there was no better option. The challenge for Roku going forward is relevancy. With more and more devices – such as TVs, DVD players and game consoles – increasingly offer the same services, the need for a separate streaming device is diminishing.
The new Roku 3 tries (and largely succeeds) in making a case for having the device. The price – $99 – is affordable. The device is compact and attractive. The Roku 3 improves upon the Roku 2 in several ways.
First and foremost, they have made finding content on the device easier. Example: if you want to find the movie ‘Ghostbusters’, the Roku 3 let’s you search through all your options one time, instead of having to enter each application and doing three or four separate searches. We found this to be a great time saver. Content sources include Hulu Plus, Netflix, Vudu, Amazon, HBO Go, Crackle, Pandora, Spotify and Disney. Sports aren’t missed either, with options to access MLB.TV, MLS, UFC, NBA and NHL.
Performance-wise, the Roku 3 has an updated processor, and content is delivered quickly and efficiently. Video quality was excellent based on our tests.
Another nice option of the Roku 3 was the new headphone jack on the left side. This allows a user to privately listen to content.
So, what’s the Roku 3 missing? YouTube is probably the major item. It’s not the best device to stream your personal digital media. But this is a great device. We’d definitely recommend the Roku 3 for people who are looking for one spot to consolidate their content. The ability to find content with one search is a wonderful option – and really sets the Roku 3 apart. Should you ditch your Apple TV for a Roku 3? Depends. If you really love Amazon’s streaming service, it’s an option. But people accustomed to the seamless integration of Apple services, such as iTunes and Airplay – will probably not want to make the move.
Still, the Roku 3 is a great device. It’s a much better option than trying to jump from device to device. The Roku 3 – or an Apple TV – is still a must-have device for most people. You can’t really go wrong with either item.
Alex has written for Vanity Fair, Barrons, Bloomberg and Condé Nast Traveler.