Roku adds 2 new players, including the HD-XR with 802.11n support

Roku adds 2 new players, including the HD-XR with 802.11n support

Summary: I have been a Netflix user for some time, but a few months ago I discovered the Roku player that lets me stream "Watch Instantly" Netflix content to my TV and jumped on the $99 device. There is no additional cost to you to stream this content to your TV with your compatible Netflix account. I was then able to downgrade my Netflix account to one DVD out at a time and my family has been extremely pleased with the Roku functionality. The Roku is dead simple to hookup and operate while giving you access to Netflix streaming content and your Amazon Video on Demand content. Last week I was sent a new Roku HD-XR box that adds 802.11n (the previous Roku had 802.11b/g) and a USB port (for future use).

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I have been a Netflix user for some time, but a few months ago I discovered the Roku player that lets me stream "Watch Instantly" Netflix content to my TV and jumped on the $99 device. There is no additional cost to you to stream this content to your TV with your compatible Netflix account. I was then able to downgrade my Netflix account to one DVD out at a time and my family has been extremely pleased with the Roku functionality. The Roku is dead simple to hookup and operate while giving you access to Netflix streaming content and your Amazon Video on Demand content. Last week I was sent a new Roku HD-XR box that adds 802.11n (the previous Roku had 802.11b/g) and a USB port (for future use).

Here is a breakdown of the two new Roku players added to the existing Roku HD player:

  • Roku SD player (new): $79.99, connects to your TV via composite video outputs with L/R RCA audio. An ethernet port is present, along with 802.11 b/g WiFi.
  • Roku HD player: $99.99, product that is currently shipping today w/ HDMI, component, composite, s-video and L/R RCA and optical video outputs along with Ethernet and Wi-Fi b/g. This model supports HD streaming from partners, currently including Amazon Video On Demand.
  • Roku HD-XR (new): $129.99, same video and audio outputs as Roku HD player that also includes Wi-Fi n/b/g and a USB port for future use. The Roku HD-XR is the first Netflix streaming device to incorporate 802.11n connectivity protocol.

802.11n gives you greater range and better signal strength than 802.11b/g, but there shouldn't be much of a difference in speeds since content partners have limits on the streams. Fortunately, my main 37 inch LCD TV is in the next room only about three feet from my WiFi router so I have never had an issue with signal strength.

All the Roku players have the same black box dimensions, with different ports on the back that set them apart.

I understand Roku is working with more content providers and we should see some interesting additions in the coming weeks.

iPhone app: While the Roku is not necessarily a mobile device, it is very compact and something you may want to travel with to enjoy your Netflix content in hotel rooms on a larger display rather than your small laptop screen. I also found a 99 cent iPhone application  (seems there are really apps for just about everything today) called DVPRemote (iTunes link) that gives you a full Roku remote control right on your iPhone/iPod touch so you can use it to control your Roku device.

After installation of the app, you simply make sure WiFi is enabled and then tap the button to discover your Roku player. You can then name your Roku player and give it a location (such as the home theater room). After saving this setup you can then control your Roku player and leave the included remote control in the drawer.

If you want to use a Roku player on a TV that is far away from your WiFi router then you might want to consider upgrading to the HD-XR. We don't yet now what the USB port is for, but maybe it will be used to let you access content stored on a hard drive. Remember that you will also need to have an 802.11n router in place and last weekend I tried a Belkin one that didn't work out. I may pick up an Airport Extreme router or some other model soon to try out.

My family thoroughly enjoys the Roku HD player and if you are a Netflix subscriber I highly recommend you pick one up to enjoy. There are actually hundreds of movies and TV shows that are available and my Instant Queue is much larger than my physical DVD Queue so content is not lacking.

Topics: Mobility, Hardware, Networking, Wi-Fi

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8 comments
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  • Netflix must be losing sales

    if very many people, as you've done, take their
    subscriptions down to the bottom peg while using a
    Roku. Does anyone know what the deal is like
    between Roku and Netflix? I know Amazon gets
    direct revenue for movies 'rented,' but Netflix
    stands to be losing a lot.
    odcchaz
    • Roku was created by NetFlix

      The Roku company was actually created by NetFlix to handle hardware manufacturing.
      troyjordan
    • they're staying with the times

      Physical media is on the way out and Netflix is simply planning for the future, competing with other companies for video streaming dominance.

      Netflix can win in two way with video streaming service, such as with Roku: 1) their lower price point requirement per subscribers means they will garner more customers who will see the undeniable value they get, 2) the marginal cost of video delivery to the masses can be much less than physical mailing, sorting, and routing of DVDs through the mail.

      Netflix would have missed a big opportunity by NOT going in the Instant Viewing direction.
      rcasey101
    • Netflix sales

      I am a Netflix subscriber on the 1 at a time/2 per month plan for $4.99. I will actually have to upgrade to a $8.99 plan to be able to stream movies, so I think it will be a net win for Netflix. It might be a way for them to get rid of the minimum plans.
      kitkimes419
  • Missing specs

    Would be interested in knowing what is the max resolution out of the box. I am so used to watching 1080i, everything else is starting to look fuzzy!

    Dave
    fiosdave
  • RE: Roku adds 2 new players, including the HD-XR with 802.11n support

    The Roku company was actually created by NetFlix to handle hardware manufacturing.
    troyjordan
  • I Love My Roku and Netflix!

    I use it more that anything else! If it wasn't for True Blood, Curb Your Enthusiasm and Entourage I would have already canceled HBO since I normally have watched anything new they have to offer within the first week and hardly turn it on after that for the rest of the month. I watch the streaming movies from Netflix on my Roku all the time. I've been watching 30 Rock from episode one all over again and it's great!
    dennyc5
  • The new content is available, but apparently not for the original N1000

    I don't see any way to get the net content channels on my ROKU box.

    That is a shame.
    The Rationalist