Review – Roku 3

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This is another installment of my review posts, where I give my opinion on hardware, software and services.

The Roku 3 is the third version of the Roku brand media player.

Physically, the unit is small and so is the remote control. The remote feels good in the hand, and the buttons are simple and straightforward. The player features a standard HDMI connection, and an Ethernet port. The remote actually has an ear phone jack, which I thought was an interesting concept.

Unfortunately, that pretty much covers this media player’s best characteristics.

The Roku 3 is pretty quick to boot up, which I did like. However, you can’t do anything with the unit until you set up or log into your Roku account. This includes inputting a credit card that Roku keeps on file. I understand some services (like Amazon, eBay, PayPal, BlackBerry, Apple) keep your credit card information on file. I don’t like this, but I do understand the practice from these big corporations (and banks). But Roku ? Seriously ? I have no choice but to give Roku my credit card information for them to keep on file, in case I ever purchase an app or media content from them ? I find this a bit over the top. None the less, I did set up my account so I could at least try the unit out.

The Roku 3 is really designed for their own internal applications and channels. There’s a Roku store, where you can install apps and channels, some for free, some at a cost. I tried setting up my home Network Attached Storage (NAS) which has all my media on it. I actually had to download an app (which was however free), and spend a good 20 minutes configuring it. It did eventually connect up and display my NAS’s content, but it wasn’t easy or straight forward by any means. The way the Roku displayed the folders and files was, well, lacking. I have hundreds of files and folders. I think I got about 6 of them at a time displayed in the list. But now comes the worst of it all. The Roku 3 can’t play all media types. Yep, seriously. It can play MP4s and AVIs. It cannot play MKVs and WMVs. Seriously ? A piece of equipment designed to play media and it can’t play common video formats ? Wow.

I tinkered a bit more with the unit and checked out some of the supplied channels and content. On that aspect, the Roku 3 is not bad, let’s say that it’s what I would have expected in a media player.

Overall, I found the Roku 3 to be a massively huge disappointment. I was excited for it because it’s one of the more popular media players out there, but was very disappointed when I actually tried using it. I simply can’t recommend this media player to anyone who wants to use it to play “media” that you already have.


Martin Lehner

Martin Lehner is an technology professional working for an IT services firm in Whitehorse, Yukon (Canada). He has been working in the technology field for over a decade. With a degree in Business Admin and numerous industry certifications, Martin leads a team of IT professionals that provide third party support for clients. Originally starting a company to offer web development services, Martin quickly realized that clients wanted the entire spectrum of technology services. When Martin is not at work (which is not often, since his company offers 24/7 support), he is busy at home spending time with his family.

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