Roku Express Streaming Player Review
Roku have been involved in the streaming industry for some time now, and have released a number of products over the years that brought services like Netflix and BBC iPlayer to our living rooms. But now your traditional TV comes with their own smart functionality, and peripherals like a PS4 and Xbox One have streaming services built in, does Roku still have a place in the world? We were sent a Roku Express Streaming Player to find out.
The Roku Express Streaming Player is tiny, measuring at just 0.7 x 3.4 x 1.4 inches. The remote control is larger than the player itself which is saying something. The player is matte black apart from a gloss black front, which is where the remote control IR sensor is housed. It is also supplied with an adhesive pad so you can stick it to your TV. I originally stuck my Roku Express behind my television and had a lot of trouble with the remote. You need the IR receiver on display for a pure connection between the two.
It needs power which is supplied in the box. It plugs into the microUSB port on the back. There’s also a HDMI port to connect it to your television. It’s supplied and can deliver 1080p streaming to your television. If you want Ultra HD, then you’ll need to upgrade to a Roku Premiere kit.
Once plugged in you will be prompted to set the Roky Express up and onto your wireless network. From here, you need to go to a link on the screen to create a Roku account or log in and sync the box to your account so you can start adding channels to your box. This is where the differences between a traditional smart TV and my new Roku box. You’ve got literally hundreds of channels to choose from, most of which you never would have heard of.
Of course though you still have your mix of Netflix, HBO, Amazon Prime, Hulu and the like, but the choice you’ve got is absolutely mental. Things like the Florida Real Estate channel or BluntTV or a channel dedicated to British bailiffs. It’s all a little overwhelming. Most content I came across channel wise was free, with the exception to some channels costing no more than £1 to buy. There’s also an awesome search function which allows you to search a movie title like Avatar for example, and then Roku give you options on where you can buy/rent that film and their prices so you can always see the cheapest offering. What more, it’s all nicely wrapped up in Roku’s own operating system. This means that you can expect regular updates, as opposed to the clunky smart TV hubs that are offered with conventional television. Content here is perfect for you cord-cutters out there who don’t want to subscribe to traditional cable television.
The remote control included is small and very minimal. One standout is the four shortcut buttons on the bottom, which allow quick access to the apps. These differ depending on the country you’re in. Everything is very reactive, with the buttons having a physical click so you know you’ve pressed it. The remote takes two AAA batteries which are included in the box. The biggest downfall I found with it though is the speed in which you can get through menus. It’s a little on the slow side, and you’ll be waiting a little longer for apps to open than you would on something like your mobile phone. Speaking of mobile, if you download the app you can plug in a pair of headphones and it’ll give you some private listening. You can even cast through the Roku box to your TV.
I think the Roku Express Streaming Player will appeal to two types of people. Those who want to upgrade an older, non-smart TV and those who are really looking to cancel their cable or satellite subscription services. Sure this thing will only set you back by £25 or so, but if you’re the type of person who only uses smart functionality to watch your Netflix subscriptions, and you have a smart TV or Blu-ray player, an Xbox or PS4, then you’re not going to need this. Although the extra content you get make it all worth it. You may even find some random strange channel that you get hooked on. For more information, head over to the Roku website.