March 5, Roku announced the release of their newest streaming player, the Roku 3. The Roku 3 was available for purchase online for only $99.99 on Roku.com and Amazon.com on Wednesday and via other popular retail stores such as Best Buy and Target by the end of the week. The player will be available for purchase in local retail stores in April.
At the time of this writing, I have spent eight hours exploring the new Roku 3 and these are my first experiences with it.
n Unboxing: The Roku 3 comes in a red box with the player, a pair of purple earbuds with two sets of spare covers, an enhanced remote, two AA batteries, a Get Started Guide, and another small booklet. The cord on the included AC adapter is shorter than the adapters included with the Roku 2 XS. One obvious omission was that no cable is included with the Roku 3. This Roku player only offers HDMI connectivity and the HDMI cable is not included.
The Roku 3 itself is all black with a number three on the top. It is curvy, shiny, very sleek and chic looking, but it is a bit of a dust magnet. The player is also heavier than previous Roku players but basically the same tiny size as the 2XS. There are rubber skid pads on the bottom for traction. The Roku 3 comes pre-loaded with Angry Birds Space.
The Roku 3 has a USB port, an HDMI port, a microSD slot, an A/C port, an ethernet port and a reset pinhole. The player comes with a Broadcom ARM Cortex-A9 dual-core processor, said to be five times faster than the other Roku players. It also comes with dual-band WiFi and provides up to 1080p video.
The enhanced remote, which is controlled via WiFi Direct, features volume controls and a headphone jack. One of the coolest new features of the Roku 3 is the private listening feature provided via the remote control's headphone jack and the included earbuds. It mutes the TV's speakers and wirelessly sends the audio thru the earbuds via the remote. When they are removed, the TV's volume is the same as before the earbuds were inserted.
n Setup: It was the same easy setup as with any Roku. I just made sure the TV was on the correct source output. The Roku 3 features a fun new animated splash screen. The first setup option is for language, then choosing a network connection. Next, the Roku 3 updates itself with the latest software and then reboots itself. Finally, comes the moment to link the Roku to a Roku account. Since I already have a Roku account, I simply logged into my account, went to the Web address listed on the screen and typed in the code displayed on the TV screen. The screen refreshes once the account is linked, I hit continue and the Roku started to add my channels. Activation for paid subscription channels were made by logging into my account for that service and inputing the code displayed on the screen at the given Web address.
n New user interface: The new main screen incorporates the Home, Channel Store, Search and Settings so they are easily accessible. The channels are presented in a three by three grid displaying nine channels at a time. The enhanced search offers a mini blurb of the movie, rating, length, director's name and release date. The search includes content from Netflix, Amazon, Vudu, Blockbuster, HBO Go, Crackle and Hulu Plus and channels from the Channel Store. Settings offers five different Roku themes.
The new user interface will be available for Roku 2 models and the new HD, LT and Roku stick in April.
I love the new Roku 3! It has faster overall response times, is visually pleasing and works nicely with the iOS app.
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