Roku 3 Review: For $99, It’s A Steal

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roku 3

Roku 3

Roku have just released the latest version of their streaming box, called the Roku 3. It costs $99 and promises a better television watching experience. Let’s see what Roku have done with Roku 3, the latest flagship incarnation.

The Roku 3 is competing directly with Apple TV (also $99), a fiercely-competitive and better-selling rival. Roku are aiming to address any shortcomings with the older devices with this new Roku 3 device. The user interface has been overhauled, the internals have been beefed up with faster hardware (5x performance increase claimed over older Roku models) and a new novelty has been introduced: a private listening mode.

Design And Build

roku_3

Changes on the outside are minimal

From the outside, the Roku has changed little. Roku 3 sports a glossy finish and weighs a tad more at 5 ounces. The older Roku 2 XS weighed 3 ounces. This shouldn’t be considered a step back however because the added weight will help the Roku 3 with stability. Often wires can become a little too heavy for devices, making them slip or fall behind the television/table. The heft also contributes to the feeling that the Roku 3 device has a high level of build quality. It’s still no where as good-looking as the Apple TV though.

What’s Changed?

Updated UI

Updated UI

Roku are claiming a faster search engine for the Roku 3. The faster search engine makes the task of finding relevant content on the mammoth 750 channel selection a lot easier. The interface has been overhauled as well. The Roku 3 menu displays 9 channels in a 3×3 grid, previously a horizontal layout was used which allowed only 6 channels to occupy the screen at any given time. Categories can be selected through a menu that is displayed on the left side of the Roku 3 UI. The Channel Store is accessible directly through the main menu, unlike the previous Roku interface.

The Roku 3 has a vastly superior processing chip under the hood. The company is claiming a 5X performance increase over previous models. That translates to a better overall experience. Navigation was smooth and lag free. The added power will also enable graphically-intensive games. Other changes include a dual-band WiFi, so wireless connectivity is better.

Private Listening Mode

The remote features a headphone jack for private listening

The remote features a headphone jack for private listening

The headlining feature of the new Roku 3 is its new private listening mode. This is enabled when the user plugs a pair of headphones in to the built-in headphone jack in the remote. The remote connects to the Roku 3 device via WiFi direct, which the company says is no more power-hungry than Bluetooth. So the remote should offer battery life similar to the old remote. Roku have included a pair of headphones just in case you don’t have spare ones.

Verdict

The Roku 3 is still one of the best streaming boxes around

The Roku 3 is still one of the best streaming boxes around

The new Roku 3 improves upon the design of the old Roku 2 XS in many different ways. The Roku 2 XS was already brilliant at what it did. The huge content selection that Roku offers is still unmatched and at $99, Roku 3 doesn’t cost an arm and leg either. The device is available from Roku’s online store and Amazon. Retail availability is expected somewhere in April.

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