Review: Roku 2 XS

Yes, yes, I know.  Half of you are thinking “What is a Roku 2 XS?” and the other half are thinking “Are you just figuring this out?”  First off, yes I’m just figuring this out.  Secondly, a Roku is a nifty little box that will stream movies, music, games, and all sorts of other cool stuff to your TV.  I got one recently and I thought I would write a review on it.

I also can imagine a third question.  “Why the heck are you writing about it on a landman blog?”  I think that a Roku is a great little tool to take with you on the road.  Now, I know that some of you work 18 hours a day out of your hotel room… but I also know that others watch TV occasionally when they are traveling.

I  ordered my device off Amazon and I’ve been pretty happy with the results.  I have Amazon Prime, which let’s you watch quite a few movies online through the website.  Well the Roku will stream that directly to your TV.  I also have HBO GO (which is like On Demand for HBO), Pandora for streaming music, and a slew of other channels.  One of my favorite is TED Talks, which is basically interviews and lectures about neat stuff that people should care about.  Angry Birds is also included in the model of Roku player that I got.

Amazon Prime is $79/year and you get free 2 day shipping on items sold by Amazon, free streaming movies, and you get to borrow one Kindle book every month from the Kindle Lending Library.

There is a list of many, many channels that are available on Roku though: Disney, HuluPlus, UFC, Vudu Movies, Facebook, several news channels, many sports related channels including ESPN, etc.  Roku’s website claims there are over 700 channels.  I immediately found about 15 that I think I’ll use.

There are several versions of the Roku player available: Roku LT, Roku HD, Roku 2 XD, Roku 2 XS.  They range from $49.99 for the Roku LT to $99.99 for the Roku 2 XS (on sale for $95.87 currently).  What do all these different versions do?  That’s why I’ve included this handy dandy comparison chart below:

Click on the above image for a larger copy.

I chose the Roku 2 XS because the price difference for the features wasn’t that big of a difference to me.  What is the big difference for the high end model?  Two things:

1.  You get an RF remote instead of an IR (Infrared) remote.  What does that mean?  It means that you can hide the box behind the TV or in a cabinet and the remote does not have to maintain “line of sight” to work.  The added bonus for this type of remote is that you can use “motion controlled” games like Angry Birds!  You can still program the box to work with your regular universal remote if you prefer.

2.  You get an ethernet port, so you don’t have to use WIFI.  On the 3 lower end version you are forced to connect via WIFI.  Most of the time this is probably fine, but I prefer to have the option of using a cable connection if necessary.

So, like I mentioned, I think this would be a great device to bring with you when you are traveling and staying in hotels.  One possible issue is with hotels that require you to “login” to the internet through a web browser — I know about this because the first time I tried to use it I had this issue.  When you connect via wifi you have to click “I Accept” to the terms of service and enter your name and room number.  This won’t work with the Roku because you don’t have a web browser built in.

It turns out the solution was fairly simple.  I simply called the customer service number for the internet (located on the sign in webpage, and also on a little placard on the desk) and told them I was trying to connect a Roku.  After I explained to them what a Roku was, they asked me for the MAC ID on the bottom of the device.  2 minutes later I was up and going.

I’m also told that there are other solutions to this problem, some people use their computer and the ethernet port (you did get the model with the ethernet port, right?) to create share the internet from their computer using ICS (Internet Connection Sharing).  You shouldn’t have to worry about it doing this, but there is a lot of discussion on the Roku Blog post: How To: Travel with your Roku player.

If you want to get a Roku, or read the reviews here is a link to the product page on Amazon: Roku 2 XS.

Tell me in the comments below if you have a Roku and what channels are you favorite!

Randy Young

Randy Young

Randy is a land consultant with experience in field and in-house land work, land administration, and software consulting with systems used in the land management business. He is an active member of the AAPL, HAPL, and NHAPL and is a regular attendee of industry functions. Randy's latest projects have included land data systems integrations, with a focus on Quorum Land System.

  • Christopher Huff says:

    Hello Randy,

    I know I’m late to the party here but since I just stumbled across this, I figured it wouldn’t hurt to ask in case you have this blog set up to notify you of any new comments, even on older material. When you said you called the hotel support line to bypass the hotel’s “Terms and Conditions” webpage, does this work for all future visits? If it’s a one time deal, I’d be tempted to start bringing my Roku along every week (like you, I have an Amazon Prime account I’d like to make use of). If I have to go through the same song and dance every week I check in, it sounds like that might turn into a little bit of a hassle.

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