What Is A Roku?

What Is A Roku?

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A Roku is very simply put a very small computer that connects to a television. It only has one function which is to allow users play audio and visual content from the Internet. It does so by connecting to the Internet via either a wifi network or through a wiredconnection known as an Ethernet connection.

Roku has a huge selection of channels.
Roku has a huge selection of channels.

 there are four current models of the Roku. They are the Roku LT, Roku 1, Roku 2 and Roku 3. Each successive model contains more features.  See the product by product features here. There are also older models on the market the Roku HD, Roku 2 XD and Roku 2 XS. These products are no longer manufactured by the company due to its lineup refresh.

Is it Affordable?
The Roku’s four models range between 50-100 dollars. The most basic model the LT can utilize any channels that the top model can. The differences between the models are the speed at which they load channels and features such as motion based controllers and connection options.

How Do Users Access Internet content With a Roku?
A Roku allows users to access Internet video and audio services through apps/channels added from its on board channel store which features over 1200 channels. These channels encompass the most popular services offered on the Internet. The boxes utilize a home’s wireless internet service or in the case of the Roku 3 there is the option to use its hardwired Ethernet port.

Is it Easy to Use?
Roku has designed a product that is very easy to understand and use. It comes shipped with a remote that is paired down to the most basic features. A simple directional button, a back button used to navigate in app menus, an “ok” button for selection and a home button used for exiting apps and returning to the main menu. Some models have remotes with quick launch buttons for popular apps like Netflix. This should be a breath of fresh air for anybody who has grown weary of the multiple button remotes that accompany many televisions or cable packages.

Is it Easy To Set Up?
New users must create a profile at the Roku website, provide a password and register a credit card for purchases. This is completed in minutes.  Next, connect the device to a television. The Roku Lt-2 ships with a video cable that can be connected to any TV. All models can be connected to and HDTV with an HDMI cable. The final step is to plug the Roku in. You will need a computer, smart phone or tablet in order to fully set the device up.

HBO Go is one of many channels available for the streaming box.
HBO Go is one of many channels available on Roku

Official Channels
One of the most popular things about the Roku line of products is their ability to run over 1200 apps, which Roku calls channels. The Roku has an on board channel store where users can browse the channels by category. Adding a channel is as easy as point and click. Once the channel has been selected it automatically loads in to the users channel lineup. Roku offers all of the most popular streaming services with the exception of Google Play and iTunes Video and Music. Those services are offered through their own branded devices.

What movie and TV show channels are Available?
As mentioned earlier there are over 1200 channels available, far too many to list. The highlights include Netflix, Amazon Prime Instant Video (as well as the Amazon on demand service), Hulu Plus, Sony Pictures Crackle, Popcorn Flicks, Flixter, PBS, Vudu, and YouTube (Only offered on the Roku 3) and so many others. For a full idea of all that is offered check out the Roku website .

Open Source Private Channels
Open source means that anybody out there who wants to build a station can do so. This has allowed for hundreds of “private” channels to be developed by companies and computer programmers that offer a multitude of options. This sets Roku apart from other products in the same category. There are online communities dedicated to developing and sharing private Channels. One of the better listings for Roku private channels is at MKV Extreme

Sports Channels on Roku
Roku offers many great options for sports fans looking to expand their offerings. Cable subscribers can utilize Watch ESPN, which is a portal to any of the ESPN channels offered in a package along with on demand viewing of numerous clips and features along with access to ESPN 3, the network’s Internet based TV option that expands the amount of live content tenfold. We are not talking Russian soccer here. The ESPN 3 broadcast includes big time college sports, along with professional sports. Along with ESPN Roku offers 60 other options including the Internet offerings from all of the major pro sports leagues with the exclusion of the NFL which does not have an Internet based broadcast. Included is NBA Game Time, MLB.TV, NHL Game Center which access live games through the internet subscription services. Overall there are 61 sports channels offering live, on demand action, clips news and statistics.

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