Roku has refreshed its streaming device lineup.
The company now offers the Roku streaming stick, Roku 1, Roku 2, and Roku 3. It has updated its Roku 2 and Roku 3 devices, making the new Roku 2 identical to the new Roku 3 in terms of performance.
The new Roku 2 also comes with a remote that's different from what the old Roku 2 offered and separates it from the new Roku 3, as it lacks voice search and a motion sensor to aid certain games like Angry Birds.
The new Roku 2's remote is actually what makes the updated set-top box cheaper than the new Roku 3 as well. Keep reading to learn about all these differences and more, and then maybe you'll know which is for you.
Both the new Roku 2 and Roku 3 weigh 5 ounces each and have the following dimensions: 3.5 x 3.5 x 1 inches. The black set-top boxes look nearly identical, but their new remotes have subtle differences (more on that later).
Both the new Roku 2 and new Roku 3 are compatible with any HDMI television. They also feature 1080p HD support, built-in dual-band wireless, various ports for ethernet, USB, and microSD, and a new "lightning fast" processor.
It's unclear what type of chip is in both devices, but Roku said the new Roku 2 has been upgraded to match the speed and the performance of the new Roku 3.
The Roku 2 features a standard remote with channel shortcut buttons, while the Roku 3 comes with an "enhanced remote with voice search, headphone jack, and motion-control for gaming". The new Roku 3's standout feature is its remote with a dedicated voice search button.
With this button, you can speak the name of a film, show, actor, or director, then results should appear instantly, and you can click through Roku's software to select a movie or show from any of your channels. Just keep in mind that initiating a voice search mid-movie will briefly take you out of the app you're in to see results.
It's worth noting you can also initiate voice search with the Roku smartphone app, which has also been recently updated, meaning you don't need the new Roku 3 and its fancy "enhanced" remote in order to find content with your voice.
And finally, the Roku 3 remote has a headphone jack for private listening as well as four shortcut buttons to Netflix, Amazon Instant Video, Rdio, and Hulu. The Roku 2 remote doesn't have a headphone, but it does have four shortcuts buttons to Netflix, Amazon Instant Video, Rdio, and Sling TV, neither of which are configurable.
Both the new Roku 2 and new Roku 3 provide access to more than 2,000 streaming channels and 250,000 films and shows. The basic steps required to start watching content involve connecting your Roku to the internet as well as your television, then signing up for a Roku account, and installing your preferred content channels.
Some of the most popular channels available through Roku include: Netflix, Hulu Plus, Amazon Instant Video, HBO Go, Sling, Crackle, TWC TV, Vudu, PBS, M-Go, A&E Be Original, Showtime Anytime, Google Play Movies & TV, Flixster, EPIX, Blockbuster on Demand, CinemaNow, Entertainment Tonight, FX Now, Lifetime, History, etc.
Roku announced a new software feature, called Roku Feed, which will chiefly alert you when new movies have released for services like Amazon Instant Video or Netflix. You can add any film to your feed, such as Furious 7, and Roku will let you know the moment it's available to stream from a content channel in its catalogue.
Both the new Roku 2 and new Roku 3 feature Roku Feed, naturally, as well as other software tricks like the ability to mirror your smartphone or tablet screen onto a television via your Roku device, among many other things.
The new Roku 2 costs $69.99 (converts to £47). The new Roku 3 costs $99.99. They are available beginning today from Roku.com and global retailers.
Which to buy?
The new Roku 2 allegedly matches the speed and performance of the new Roku 3; it just doesn't have an enhanced remote, but you can use the Roku smartphone app to get access to similar voice search functionality. If price is a concern, we'd recommend going with the cheaper Roku 2.
If you're more into ease of use, or even in gaming, we'd recommend the new Roku 3. It has remote with a dedicated voice search button and motion control for gaming, all of which might be worth the extra $30.
At the end of the day, though, it's up to you and what suits your TV-viewing needs.