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If you’ve been reading my streaming TV posts, you know that my favorite set-top streaming receiver is Roku. Now they’ve given me (and you) another reason to love Roku.
Roku 3 hits the streets this week as the new high-end representative to the Roku product line. They’ve changed the look of the palm-size box a little, giving it rounded sides. But it goes far beyond appearance changes in both hardware and user interface.
Changes in the hardware include:
- Upgraded processor – makes it faster in navigating programming and features
- Upgraded dual-band WiFi – for extended range and increased speed
- New remote with headphone jack – Headphone jack? Yes, now you can enjoy your favorite streaming programs in bed, without disturbing your partner.
- Supports new video file formats – H264 and MKV may not mean much to you, and they don’t have to. Suffice it to say, the Roku 3 can play significantly upgraded video standards.
- Upgraded audio – supports 7.1 channel surround sound.
Retained hardware features from the previous top-of-the-line 2XS include: the 10/100 base-T ethernet connection for wired Internet performance, a USB port, and Bluetooth. Roke 3 has done away with the A/V connections, relying totally on HDMI for connection to your HD TV.
User Interface Changes
Your biggest pleasure will come when you fire up the new Roku 3. The good news for Roku has always been its plethora of TV and movie content. But when you’ve got that much stuff (over 750 channels and growing all the time), how do you find what you want?
That’s gotten a whole lot easier, thanks to the new user interface (UI), which shows you 9 channels at a time on a single screen. Clicking an advance arrow takes you to a new page of content. You can easily tell a channel you’ve already added by the check mark in the corner of the channel. A two-panel design makes it easier to browse genres, with a list of genre names on the left and the channel content grid on the right.
The Roku 3 is a significant upgrade in what I already consider to be the top streaming set-top box out there. I’m sure there is one in my future.