Roku LT: Time To Cancel My Cable
Mar 31, 2012
Review by James Lowenberg
Rated a Very Helpful Review
It was back on Thanksgiving 2011 when we finally decided to take the leap and buy a streaming media player. The wife and I had a Netflix subscription for several months prior to that and had really been loving being able to stream television shows and movies at any time through my Playstation 3, the only problem with that being that we had three televisions and only one PS3. Plus on top of that I was living out of a hotel five out of seven nights of the week for my job so I would take my PS3 as my only source of entertainment while I was away from home. It got to the point that me and my wife would fight over MY PS3! Because I wanted to play games, browse the internet, and watch Netflix while I was away. And she wanted to watch Netflix while I was away, needless to say for once I won these arguments and my wife was left in despair with her computer and the cable box.
Recommend this product?
After much searching I decided against getting another gaming system purely for streaming media and went with this product that was very highly rated and much cheaper than another gaming system, the Roku LT. On Thanksgiving day we finally decided to splurge and buy this little beauty for fifty dollars and free shipping because when looking at the features on the Roku LT comparatively to the more expensive models the Roku LT actually did everything we wanted without making us spend extra money on features we would never use. The Roku LT is pretty much the bare-bones model of the Roku streaming media player wrapped up in a little purple box.
What the Roku LT is for those of you who aren’t familiar with the idea of what a streaming media player is (I was barely aware and my wife had never heard of them) is a little box that you can hook up to your television to stream video and audio straight off of your internet connection. Think of it much like a small box specifically play videos off of the internet much like your computer does with YouTube videos, except there is no additional features or drivers and everything else that complicates the use of a computer.
Coming out of the packaging the Roku LT looks miniscule and weighs so little it’s hard to imagine it can do anything. Coming with the very fine looking small purple Roku box is a Roku remote an AC adaptor and a specialized RCA adaptor (also known as Composite cables, and AV connectors). The RCA adaptor is worthy of note since the packaging says that these are specialized cables made specifically for Roku. What they are is your common yellow video RCA, white audio RCA, and red audio RCA cables that hook up to your TV condensed into what appears to be a headphone jack that plugs into the back of the Roku LT. So needless to say you should take good care not to lose that cable. That cable is good for attaching the Roku LT to almost any television nowadays, however high definition televisions will be better served to buy a separate HDMI cable (may I recommend using Monoprice to save you a bundle of money) which plugs in just as easily to the Roku LT. I personally have a spare HDMI cable hooked up to each of our two HDTV’s, while we have the RCA adaptor hooked up to the standard definition TV since that cable can only display at the maximum of 480i. While using an HDMI cable will produce the maximum resolution that the Roku LT will produce which is 720p.
The remote that comes with the Roku LT is the only remote that will work with it, while probably a replacement remote would work if you ordered one from Roku there are no universal remotes thus far (to my knowledge) that can be programmed to operate it, so along with the AV cable don’t lose the remote. Much like everything on the Roku LT the remote is simplified so that most anybody can use it. Starting at the top the remote has “Home” button and a “Back” button both of which back you up in the menus. Moving down we have the four directional buttons with the “OK” button in the middle which makes navigating the menus/movie catalogues a breeze. Then below those there are the fastforward, rewind, and the pause/play buttons, that you should have a mastery by now. Below that there is a star button which I think I only have used once during setup. Then Roku went and made shortcut buttons to the three major channels that the Roku will play, these buttons take you directly to Netflix, Pandora (internet radio), and Crackle (free movie service).
A streaming media player is nothing without content and Roku has that by the truckload, and it comes in a few different forms. There are the major streaming media services available that currently charge around eight dollars a month like Netflix and Hulu Plus, these two are the biggest draws for streaming media. Then there are the services that require a one-time fee, I don’t have any experience with these but I would hope they are at least worth more than the free services. There are also premium services that you can get free for having a separate subscription like HBO Go is free if you are an HBO subscriber on certain cable companies. Then there is the free content like Crackle and Pandora which don’t have the same amount and/or quality of the paid for services but there are quite a few of them and are definitely a big bonus for the Roku LT. For free services I personally really like both Crackle and Pandora.
There is more than just movies available for streaming, there is Pandora internet radio along with several other music channels to choose from. Then there are useful channels like multiple weather channels along with streaming video clips from the major news outlets like CNN and Fox News. Honestly there are more specialized channels available than I would have imagined, many different ethnicities, political views, and languages have their own specialized channels. There are literally hundreds of channels that I can’t go into them all, so in short the selection is amazing and it keeps growing.
The performance of my Roku LT is exactly what I was hoping for. While the LT version is the bottom of the line for Roku that is plenty enough for my purposes. It does play in high definition albeit the low end of high definition of 720p, although that is perfect for smaller HDTV’s and is barely noticeable until you get up to the larger HD displays. I have found no real flaws with video performance for the Roku LT since I use it primarily on my standard definition television and my thirty two inch HDTV in the bedroom, and occasionally replacing the PS3 in the living room (if I really want to see something in 1080p I can always use the PS3), so the Roku LT makes logical sense for a lot applications. While the next step up to the highest definition is another thirty dollars higher. The audio is all clear and DVD quality, and can be setup in either stereo or 5.1 surround sound.
Setting up the Roku LT is pretty straight forward and the average person who could setup a facebook account, internet banking, or an epinions account should be able to easily setup the Roku LT. All that is required is entering passcodes that can be found on the websites that the Roku LT will direct you to. It takes around five minutes to setup the Roku LT for the first time and after that navigating and operating the Roku LT is as simple as they come. Well I should say it is as simple as they come as soon as you activate each of the separate services to the device, which range from simple, to nearly impossible (since I still can’t get the Facebook application to connect to my account). On Netflix with my internet that is 3 mbps it takes about fifteen seconds for the video to go from a low quality blocky appearance up to the high definition. The Roku LT can handle all of the common Wi-Fi security protocols without issue and will save your passwords on the system.
With the exception of the 1080p higher definition there is nothing that I can see as worthwhile upgrades in the more expensive models. The more expensive models that feature higher definitions include expansion slots so that you can have more channels and more games, for me I see no need for more channels being stored in your list because I really you can always swap them, plus the number able to be listed seems mighty large to start with (more than I would ever have time to watch). Also in the more expensive models there are games to be played (yet another way to play Angry Birds) and these games would serve me no purpose. So honestly this bare-bones model of the Roku is everything I could need. Overall I would say the Roku LT is an ideal addition to my home theater experience, with the only real downsides being the lack of 1080p and the fact that it is pretty much worthless without a Wi-Fi internet connection capable of properly streaming it. Also of note the Roku LT has no power button, but it claims that even while streaming it takes no more power than nightlight, which should save a little on the electric bill over the alternatives.
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Amount Paid (US$): 50
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