I've had a pretty good history with Roku. I had a first generation Roku, the ugly boxy one, with the remote control that looked like you cut a regular remote control in half. That streaming box was pretty great for a while. It had a lot of channels, all the functionality I wanted, and it worked pretty well. I was happy with my little Roku. That is until Apple released the second generation Apple TV and beat the pants off my precious little roku. It was with much sadness that I replaced the little guy. Since then however development on the Apple TV has stalled, and development on the Roku boxes seems to have been put on fast forward. Since all of these streaming boxes are all so affordable, I decided to give the new Roku 3 a try. There's a lot of good, and some bad. A lot of jubilation and a small bit of frustration. No streaming box is perfect, but so far, at this point in time, the Roku 3 seems to be the best of all the streamers. I am enjoying my new purchase very much.
The design of the Roku 3 hardware is pretty nice. It's a really nice, elegant design that stands in stark contrast to the ugly, boxy Amazon Fire TV, or even the first Roku. It's even a nicer looking design in my opinion than the Apple TV. Although on the software side of things, both the Apple TV and Roku 3 need a serious redesign. It looks old, and not very well organized at all. It's hard to find different services and clunky to look through everything. There are two things that Roku does best amongst every other internet streamer.; It has the widest variety of apps or "channels" over anything else, and even though the software has a very clunky design it makes up for that in its universal search function. Type in one search query and the Roku will give you results from all the apps installed. Which needless to say makes finding things a whole lot easier. I can't praise their search enough. However in camparison to the Apple TV the Roku 3 seems a bit sluggish sometimes. Not so much so that I get frustrated, but just enough so that I notice the delay.
Another thing that makes the Roku 3 nicer than other streaming boxes is the headphone jack on the remote control. The remote control itself is a little big, and honestly some of the button positioning seems kind of odd. However all of that seems to slip away and almost worth the price of entry in and of itself is that sexy, sexy, headphone jack on the remote control. I can't for the life of me understand why other companies haven't followed suit on this. Now that Roku has done, it seems like a feature that should have been there all along. I live in a studio apartment with my wife so maybe the headphone jack means more to me than other people. When my wife wants to go to bed, and I'm still watching Netflix, or Hulu, or even streaming cable from the TWC TV app, I can just pop the headphones into the remote, the TV silences and my wife goes to sleep without being bothered. It's an amazing convenience, one that I didn't even know I needed until I saw the Roku 3. It's just one of those features that makes sense.
With over 1,800 channels in the US, the Roku line of devices simply blows away the competition in terms of variety. I can even get Google Play Movies and the aforementioned TWC TV on it. Nothing else even comes close to touching this little box. So much so that I almost want to buy one of the TCL or Hisense Roku TVs with the Roku software built into it. As a matter of fact, when the time comes, I just might based on my experience with the Roku 3. I am absolutely ecstatic that I can access my Netflix, Hulu, TWC, Amazon, Google Play, and WWE network content all from one device. If I could access iTunes content it would be even better, but we all know Apple will keep that tied to just their devices. I can dream can't I? Whatever services you use, odds are that Roku has a channel for it, and that's its biggest strength right there. I can overlook the dated UI, the slight sluggishness, and the odd remote control, just because these other features more than make up for it.
All in all I am happy with my purchase. I wish the Roku Remote had a more intuitive layout to its buttons, I wish it was less sluggish, and I wish the software didn't look like a reject interface from the 90s. However, considering everything, the pros definitely outweigh the cons and I don't see anyone surpassing it anytime soon. I can't speak for Android TV or the Nexus Player yet, but I don't feel like I have to go looking for something better. The Roku 3 definitely has way too much going for it. I would definitely and will definitely recommend it to friends. It's affordable, has a ton of channels, and that killer headphone jack on the remote control, it is hands down a must buy. Now if you'll excuse me, I have some shows to start streaming...