Seeking Reviews for Roku 3

Seeking Reviews for Roku 3

Roku is a popular digital video streaming player. With the release of the third-generation model last month, we thought it was a good time to give our review and ask for your thoughts as well.

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The Roku 3 was released on March 5, 2013.

How Does Roku Work?

Setup is easy. You simply plug your Roku into the wall and connect it to your television set. You then connect the Roku to your home network (wireless or ethernet), activate it, and begin surfing the selection of channels. Roku is portable and can easily be used in different rooms of your home.


Roku 3 costs about $99.99. There is no monthly subscription to use it, though some of the channels (such as Netflix) do require their own subscription.

How Many Channels Does Roku Have?

Currently, Roku boasts around 750 channels, though admittedly many of these are of little interest to the typical viewer. The most important channels include Netflix, Hulu Plus, HBO GO, MLB.TV, Pandora, Spotify, Disney, Amazon Instant, Vevo, CNET, Vimeo, Picasa, Slacker, etc. As stated, some of these require a paid subscription.

Roku3 Interface

New and Improved Features

Here are some of the new or improved features found in Roku 3.

  • Sleek, updated user interface (this will be available to older models soon, if not already)
  • More responsive and robust thanks to a significantly faster CPU.
  • Remote control with 3.5mm headphone jack for private listening. Because the remote is wifi, you don’t have to point it at the box.
  • Angry Birds game included for free.
  • Universal Search is a powerful feature allowing you to search across all channels by actor, movie, director, etc.
  • Streaming quality seems smoother than previous models. This may vary depending on your internet connection.


Despite a wealth of slick new features, Roku 3 has a few “issues” which some people may view as negatives:

  • Roku 3 only supports HDTV’s with an HDMI port. If you have an older non-HDTV, you will not be able to use Roku 3.
  • A credit card is required to activate, even though no future charges are required. Some people have an issue with this, but it is possible to bypass this requirement by contacting customer service.
  • The required HDMI cable is not included, so you will have to purchase one.
  • There is still no official YouTube channel. There are other channels available that allow you to view YouTube content, but a true YouTube channel would be nice.
  • There is limited support for playback of digital media file formats, so Roku 3 may not be ideal for viewing your home videos. The prevalence of this  issue varies based on what formats are being used by the consumer.
  • iTunes is not supported natively, though we’ve been told there are workarounds available. (We haven’t tried these workarounds)
  • The ability to scan across a video’s timeline to see screenshot previews is becoming standard on DVD’s and YouTube, but this feature is not included in the Roku 3.
  • Some free content comes in smaller chunks, rather than in a single clip.
  • Slower internet connections may affect quality.
  • Some people have complained about the large advertisement on the home screen.

Other items of note

  • Upon booting the Roku 3 for the first time, you’ll be required to activate it with an activation code.
  • Aside from video streaming, there are games available from the store.
  • Quality and content varies greatly among channels.
  • You can also listen to radio stations and music streaming sites.
  • Although Roku doesn’t advertise this, there is a lot of decent content to be found in private channels if you have time to sift through them all.
  • USB port is available for streaming personal videos
  • MicroSD slot is available for additional game or channel storage.
  • Roku 3 can be controlled with a universal remote.
  • The remote control also works as a motion-controlled video game controller.

Bottom Line

If you are looking to purchase a digital streaming box, Roku 3 is an excellent choice. – unless you want to use it on an older TV. The new interface and significantly more responsive system makes Roku a great product, despite a few lingering issues.

Your Turn

Have you used Roku 3? We want to hear from you in the comments below.

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