As much as I’ve been an Apple user for decades, I haven’t seen the need to purchase an Apple TV. Why? Because in my humble opinion, the Roku 3 is unquestionably the best media streaming player on the market.
And just recently, the company based in the South Bay community of Saratoga released an upgraded version of the Roku 3, making this top of the line product that much better. With an improved processor, the latest iteration is five times faster than its predecessor, video is capable of up to 1080p and comes with an enhanced remote for gaming and private listening.
In addition to its lightning fast new processor, the most practical addition with the newest Roku 3 is its new voice search function. Despite being the proud owner of multiple Roku products for a few years, with a Roku attached to every TV in my home, the original search features have often been a source of frustration.
Enter Roku’s voice search, quite similar to Amazon Fire’s voice capabilities. Testing went as expected with the Roku search, with results appearing quickly on the screen and saving me the time to enter a movie, actor or some other keyword one letter at a time as one would do with older model Rokus. My first search was “Game and Thrones” and several results appeared quickly on the screen. This convenient new feature is a vast improvement from older Roku models and users of streaming services like Netflix would certainly appreciate that added convenience if it comes to fruition.
Another new feature is Roku Feed, showcasing the latest movies available for video streaming from services like Amazon Instant Video and VUDU and allowing users to follow their movies of choice. One other useful aspect of Roku Feed for consumers who enjoy watching the latest releases is the function known as Coming Soon, enabling users to see movies that have yet to be released on streaming video along with instant updates. Lastly, with the free Roku app, smart phone and tablet users can project photos, videos and songs in lieu of the enhanced remote.
Like any other Roku streaming device, the latest generation model is incredibly easy to install. A little more than a handful of items come out of the box, including the enhanced game remote with voice search, two batteries for the remote and power adapter. Consumers will need a couple of other things like an internet connection, preferably a wireless router and an HDTV, HDMI cable and of course, a Roku account. But the entire time to set up, including activating the device was less than 10 minutes!
I’ve noticed a number of reviewers suggesting the similarly upgraded and more affordable new Roku 2 might be a better option, especially for those who have no use for the headphone and private listening. With the same specifications as the Roku 3, it’s definitely far more appealing than ever before. And with someone like me, it certainly makes sense since I likely won’t use the headphones and only used headphones just once for testing in the earlier Roku 3.
Still, there’s something very special with the top of the line model with its time saving voice search. However, for consumers looking for nearly identical features minus headphones, private listening and voice search, the Roku 2 is my recommendation amongst all other streaming players in the same pricing category. I almost forgot to mention Roku has more channels than its competitors and remains the most widely used streaming player on the market.
If you are thinking of purchasing a streaming player or looking to upgrade your current model, there is, quite simply, no better product than the new Roku 3. But when the cost is an important consideration, I can practically guarantee you will not be disappointed with the more affordable Roku 2.