Roku 2 XS IPTV player
Smarten up your TV viewing
You also get surround sound using HDMI on a reasonable amount of Netflix material. The iPlayer implementation is good too – much more graphically rich than the normal ‘big screen’ version or the MHEG offering on FreeviewHD.
Add channels from the website during setup or from the built-in ‘channel store’ later. Most are free – but not all
As you’d expect, the Roku 2 XS also boasts media playback facilities, but it’s not a DLNA client (or even mt-daap); there’s a USB port on the side, and you can add the USB media player ‘channel’ through the store, free of charge. Unfortunately, format support is limited – video is H.264 only, in MKV or MP4 containers, with AAC and MP3 for music, and PNG or JPG for photos.
Besides iPlayer, Netflix is the only other big hitter in the content department for UK users
If you have an MKV with AC3 audio, that’s passed through the HDMI fine. But if you want to play back from a NAS, or use other formats such as DivX/Xvid, you’re out of luck. There is an app in the store to allow playback of your iTunes library over your network, but it’s not free and uses its own sharing mechanism, rather than iTunes’.
The iPlayer on Roku is graphically rich, and includes HD content
Essentially, the Roku is best viewed as an IPTV device, with limited extras. If you accept that, it’s a nice piece of kit; the interface is straightforward with a row of channel icons to navigate, and the gaming remote is comfortable to hold and use – though it strangely lacks a volume control.
There’s no doubt the Roku 2XS is simple to use, and performance with Netflix and iPlayer is excellent; but there’s no home LAN streaming, and USB playback support is very limited. The cheaper LT is better value, and the WD TV Live will do more for about the same price. Ultimately, if Roku is to have the same success here as in the US, they need to get more top quality content for UK viewers, and drop the price. ®
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