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Review: Roku HD XR

Written on Nov 20, 2009 by Brian and filed under Reviews

Roku recently updated their product line to include the Roku HD XR, which adds high speed WiFi (802.11n) to the popular HD streaming box. The upgrade gives consumers access to the fastest WiFi protocol so they can take better advantage of high speed Internet connections. This means consumers with an 802.11n router in their home and a fast broadband connection can expect the highest possible quality when streaming Netflix, Amazon on Demand and MLB.tv content.

Roku HD XR

Roku HD XR rear

Roku HD XR Setup

The Roku player comes with a pamphlet that has six steps to get set up. Since one of those steps includes adding batteries to the remote and another shows how to use the play button, there’s really not much to it. Plug the Roku into the wall and connect to the TV. If you’re using wireless you’ll configure that in the setup, there’s also an option for a hard wired Ethernet connection. The only slightly annoying part about the setup is that Roku includes RCA cables and no HDMI cord. For a box that’s designed for HD use, we weren’t expecting that.

Getting setup though is dead simple, so much so that anyone should be able to complete it with no problem. The configuration screens are very easy to understand and the unit even finds its own firmware updates for installation as part of the setup. It took us under 5 minutes to get rolling.

Using the Roku HD XR

Once you’re powered on, the Roku will present three viewing options, Netflix, Amazon Video on Demand and MLB.tv. While these are currently the only channels available on the Roku; Roku has been indicating plans to add more content in the near  future. To configure each of these services, you’ll need to pair the Roku player with your various accounts.

What happens is that when you select Netflix for instance, the Roku box will show you a code. Log into your Netflix account online to add the code to your profile. Within a few seconds of adding the code, the Roku will get the pairing message and you’re ready to roll. It really couldn’t be easier to tie your accounts into the Roku.

Once paired, you’ll have access to the content available by the channel. For Netflix, this means you’ll have access to your entire instant viewing queue. Amazon will show you the movies or videos you have available either from purchases or rentals and MLB.tv offers streaming of baseball games and related content. Each of these services requires some level of subscription, all of which is managed outside of the Roku environment.

roku netflix instant queue

roku netflix show detail

roku netflix loading

We tested extensively with a Netflix queue. The interface is easy to use, just scroll through the movie/TV show cover art until you find the one you want to watch. Select the one you want and the Roku streamer will connect to the service, do a quick Internet speed test, and get started. We had only a few seconds delay for the content retrieval, license acquisition and speed test. From the point of selecting your show or movie to the stream starting took about 5 seconds each time, which is very fast.

The Amazon service and MLB content work roughly the same way – easily and quickly connecting and streaming to the Roku HD XR from your Amazon library or your selected out of market baseball game from MLB.

Roku HD XR remote

The controls for the Roku box are handled entirely by the included remote control. The remote is a sturdy 9 button unit that is intuitive to use and responsive to button presses. The icons are easy to understand, with a home button to get users back to the main menu, navigation buttons, start/pause and fast forward/rewind buttons.

Bottom Line

While a lot of Blu-ray players and other Internet-connected devices offer Netflix and other content playback; the Roku device is perhaps the easiest to use and highly reliable. It’s a tremendous value as well; for $129 you get  HDMI, 802.11n WiFi and a nice remote. Add to that the promise of more content services coming soon, in the end we love the Roku HD XR and think it’s a worthy addition to any home theater setup.

All three Roku systems are available from Amazon.com.

Rating – 5 out of 5 Stars – Editor’s Choice

htib_editorschoice_badge

roku models


2 Responses to “Review: Roku HD XR”

  1. Disappointed by the poor wireless implementation that I paid extra for. I just got off the phone with Roku support regarding the N wireless on their XR model. The response I got from Roku is that their wireless is different than other wireless and is only good for 40 to 50 feet. The Roku website should say, “wireless only good for 40 to 50 feet”. Instead, it says; “Wi-Fi (802.11N/B/G “dual-band”) with WEP, WPA, and WPA2 support”.

    By Bob on Jun 10, 2010 | Reply
  2. I, envy you. Your blog is much better under the maintenance and design than mine. Who to you the design did?

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