The Roku 3 was released in March of 2013. The box offers modest hardware improvement over the Roku XD, and saw the debut of the a newly designed interface. If you’re not familiar with the Roku line of product, they basically make Set Top Boxes that allow you to easily connect to your TV to Netflix, MLB, Hulu, Plex, home movies or one of some 700 plus channels identified in the device guide. Sounds neat right!
Here’s a quick rundown of the Roku 3
Things we expected the Roku 3 to do, and it did
-Resolution supported are 480p, 720p and 1080p
-Audio Support is 7.1/5.1 Surround Sound
-HDMI output of course
Things we didn’t expect from the Roku 3
-The bluetooth remote of the Roku 2 is gone, replaced as noted above with a 5GHz ISM spectrum RF remote. This is a plus for remote cabinet / AV console mounting
-Dropped 480i/NTSC support
This is the first set top box that Roku has produced using a dual core processor. The Broadcom ARM Cortex-A9 dual-core processor get’s it done on less than 250mw per core and runs 32-bit processors with the ARM v7 instruction set. What that means to us in plain English is the box is adequately powered to provide a good user experience and interface operation.
The remote on the Roku 3 is RF AND IR. That’s really cool for those that use all-in-one remotes like the Harmony. What’s even cooler is that the IR remote from our Roku 2 works on the 3 as well! Dual spectrums remote make the Roku 3 easy to control with the remote of your choice!
Plugs and Slots
The USB port will support local drive mounting and allows the box to play files directly off the attached drive. File formats supported include MP4 (H.264), MKV (H.264); Audio: AAC, MP3; JPG, PNG. Additional storage is available thru the MicroSD slot. This slot can be used for channel storage or additional games. A nice feature for quick and easy viewing of camera pictures .
The User Interface
The new tiled interface allows for much more imagery during channel browsing. This is nice for quick searching through your favorites.
The search functionality really works well. Once you’ve entered your search term, the Roku 3 will search across all available mediums, Netfilix, Hulu Plus, Plex to find the title you’ve searched.
The Viewing Experience
It works. Just like previous versions of the hardware, the actual viewing experience is largely dependent on your internet connection, and has little to do with the the actual set top box. This box has adequate power to decode the video and present to your panel.
Things we wished the Roku 3 would do, but it doesn’t
-Provide broader file type support for local media playback, and trans-coding capabilities
While the Roku 3 is an obvious improvement over earlier models, unless you’re just needing another STB, waiting to see what else the market brings may be your best move. On the other hand, if you don’t have a Roku at all, buying the Roku 3 at $99 is a safe purchase indeed.
We would love to hear about your experience with the Roku 3…good, bad, or otherwise…