Roku 2 XS review

The design and price of the Roku 2 XS make it obvious that it’s intended as a direct rival for the AppleTV.

The compact black lozenge is very similar in size and shape to the AppleTV, and the £99.99 price tag is virtually identical too. The XS model that we tested provides full 1080p resolution for high-definition films and video, but there’s also a 720p model called the Roku LT that costs only £49.99, and might be worth considering if you’re just looking for an affordable way of getting the BBC iPlayer or Netflix onto your HD TV.

We got off to a rather annoying start, as you have to provide your credit card or PayPal details during installation – even if you just want to watch free services such as the BBC iPlayer. You can set up a PIN to prevent the kids from going on a spending spree with your credit card, but being forced to hand over your card details during installation makes a poor first impression.

Once that’s done you can browse through a selection of ‘channels’ – icons representing services such as the BBC iPlayer, Netflix and Sky’s NOW service. I was disappointed to see that there’s no LoveFilm option, and some services – such as such as HBO GO – are only available in the US. However, Roku’s Channel Store does include an interesting selection of additional channels/services, such as Spotify, Bollywood movies on IndiaGlitz, and trashy horror movies on Midnight Pulp.

The only problem here is that it’s not always clear which channels are free and which ones you have to pay for, so Roku needs to tidy up the presentation of its Channel Store a bit. Like the AppleTV, the Roku player lacks an internal hard disk, but it does score a few extra brownie points by including a USB port that allows you to play music, photos and video stored on a memory stick.

OUR VERDICT

Its graphical interface may not be as slick as that of the AppleTV, and the need to provide credit card details before you can watch anything is annoying. However, the Roku 2 XS works well and does provide a slightly wider range of services than the AppleTV.

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