On Sunday, April 1, 2012, my White Xbox 360 finally gave up the ghost. It powered on with the Red Light of Death and Destruction. I thought it was a joke, but it wasn’t.
A little background, it was not my only Xbox 360, it was our old one. This “old one” was my media center. I don’t game on this one. I have mentioned this in previous posts, but it was used primarily for Netflix, HBOGo, Hulu, and FiOS tv. It had been through a lot, and no longer functioned well enough to game on. It was great for the purpose it served. The newer model is alive and well in my living room, where it gets LOTS of use each night.
As I stared at those three blinking red lights, I thought to myself do I really want to crack this sucker open again and give it another bypass? There has got to be a better way.
That said, I was not about to drop another $300+ for a gaming system that I don’t really use in that room. Someone at work recommended I look into Roku. After a quick post to Facebook to put out some feelers, it seemed like Roku was the way to go… I started doing some comparison shopping online, and trying to learn more about this little media streaming device.
Last night, I went into Radio Shack looking for a 10 Torq screwdriver to try to repair the Xbox 360 and walked out with a little miracle instead.
Roku 2 XD… what I can I say? Is it too soon to say I love you? Let’s get married and have lots of little baby channels that show all my favorite shows. Here is a summary of our first night together.
This may be the best $80 that I ever spend. Here is how my first night with Roku went.
I am in love with the magic that is it’s tiny size. This is my problem with gadgets. To me, they are just one example of proof that there is magic in this world. Anyway…
- Ease of set up – passes the Your Mom Test*.
- Ease of use. It was relatively easy to set up. Sort of went like this:
- Open the box and marvel at the diminutive size of this technological wonder
- Take the little miracle out of the box, along with AC adapter and AV Cables
- Plug in adapter, and AV Cables, turn on TV (I subbed this out for my own HDMI Cable)
- Connect Roku to your Wifi using the remote
- Log into or use activate Roku online, Register it and enter in some financial details for the Channel Store
- Enter codes/login to Netflix/Hulu/HBOGo/Epix, etc… (used my phone for activation entry)
- Sit down with your popcorn and watch TV!
All in all, the process took about 25 minutes, but I am a pro, so I would give it a 45 minute head start, before you hit step 7, and have a computer or smartphone handy for entering all the log-in codes for your channels.
- Picture Quality – Since i had an HDMI cable I used that, and I watched a few episodes of Supernatural in HD. The picture quality is magnificent, I will never watch netflix like poor people again.
- Internet Connection – I have FiOS, and so I can’t judge this accurately, I did not have any buffering or other issues on Netflix. The recommended speed is 5 mbps on wireless and the Roku is a purely wireless device, at least the XD is. Hulu is always a bit funky when streaming but I haven’t seen any yet.
- If you do need to pre-throttle, or change your internet capture rate there is an unlock code on your remote.. its something like this
- Press the Home button 5X
- Press Rew << 3x
- Pres FF >> 2x
- Private Channels
- This just sounded so covert, that I had to find out what it’s all about. Apparently there are a lot of free domain and other types of channels that are online and accessible through Roku.
- A quick google search for “Roku Private Channels” yields a good number of lists. I recommend trying some of them out. Each requires a code that you must input on your Roku site.
Note: Some of these channels are not family safe, and some are not exactly the best quality. It will take some tinkering and experimenting to see which are good, and which are just meh. So far BBC International and CNN International seem to be my favorite off the menu channels.
- No You Tube Channel. With Youtube launching their own original content such as the Wil Wheaton Game show, Tabletop and other shows, this is definitely a con which I hope they will remedy soon.
- No FiOS channel, yet… Verizon I am looking directly at you, please make me happy again!
- The Remote: The remote is cool, it has buttons built in for Pandora, Netflix and Crackle, and it’s pretty intuitive, however I put it face down on my bed and the buttons pressed, so it can’t just be thrown around, because it will activate and mess up your movie watching mojo.
- Registration with credit card/paypal. I used my paypal account to register, this is harmless, as it’s just for in store purchases of paid or subscriber channels. I was able to enter a code that has to be entered in order to purchase channels. It was a minor annoyance but not a deal breaker.
- No off switch, again, not a deal breaker, but I do like to turn my devices off when I can. You can unplug the device and that should take care of that. I have everything electronic on a surge protector so I just turned that switch off.
- It’s not a device that allows external hard drive capability. It’s not a huge deal to me, but this may be a con to some others. If you want that feature, go with Boxee instead. I am personally okay with this since I have my DVD player in the room and it has the USB port for an external hard drive.
- Have to figure out how to get the NAS Server to stream through this. It will also eliminate the external drive issue.
So all the love talk aside, my full verdict is not in yet. This is still the honeymoon phase. Stay tuned for next week when I have had some more time to play with the system…
*The Your Mom Test – Can your mom set this up without calling/posting on Facebook for help?