Cutting the TV cord, added a Roku

As we continue our quest to be happy with entertainment solutions without a monthly cable bill, I decided to add a Roku to the mix. We’ll use this at Emerald Isle, where we’ve got an Apple TV box hooked up to the set, but didn’t have a way to stream Amazon Prime (at home, I’ve got a Mac Mini that we use for Amazon). Apple TV offers a beautiful interface as well as access to the iTunes ecosystem, Netflix, and streaming radio. As a multiple-iPhone/iPad household, AirPlay is a great feature, as is PhotoStream. However, no Amazon Prime streaming, and given the relationship between Apple and Amazon, it’s unlikely that the Apple will sprout an Amazon streaming client. The Roku box fills that gap. I picked up a Roku XD for $69 with free shipping (had a $10 coupon) so I thought I’d give it a try. Given that Amazon’s streaming library is rapidly approaching Netflix, it may be that not too far down the road I can drop Netflix. I get my money’s worth from Amazon Prime on free shipping for some “subscribe & save” grocery items that we order regularly, and movies/TV are a bonus.

The Roku is another small black box, very similar to the Apple TV, but a little taller and narrower and lighter. It does have a little tab on it that lets you know it’s a Roku, as does the remote. This is really a very handy feature on a remote, since it’s often confusing to look at pile of remotes and sort them out 😉 . The Roku is a nice box, all kidding aside. It does exactly what it says it does, provide Netflix, Amazon, Hulu+ and many other video sources. I use Pandora, and it logged on just fine to my account. I like the weather service apps on the Roku. I’m hoping that Apple will open up app development on the Apple TV (since it runs iOS) but I’m not holding my breath. The thing, though, about the Roku, is that while it works well and the video quality is excellent, the user interface is just plain ugly. It looks like it was designed by 1st year CS student. Contrast that with the elegant interface of the Apple TV. Oh well…

What I’d really like is the flexibility of the Roku, with Apple’s user interface!

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