In less than one month, my Roku 2 HD has totally changed the way I watch TV!
I don't have a 1080p TV set, so the 720p of either the LT or HD model is just fine for my old CRT TV. Also, if you don't play games and you do not need USB or Ethernet jacks then the HD is possibly the ROKU for you. I'm not a gamer, I have wi-fi and I don't want to watch my personal videos via Roku so the HD is the one for me. The device itself is small but mighty! Having had it about 2 weeks I can say that I absolutely would buy it again. I'm upgrading it to add a 2gb MicroSD card, but that actually isn't required unless you want to load a ton of channels in it. I'm up to about 60 channels now and I think I probably should add more memory and it is really cheap to do so The HD model does have a slot to do that, while the less expensive LT model does not have a slot for a memory upgrade.
If you have a 1080p TV then you would benefit from either the XD or XS Roku models as they do offer 1080p HD instead of 720p.
Here is what you need to make ROKU 2 HD work! 1. A TV with composite video input (Red, White and Yellow) jacks usually located on the back of your television set OR an HDMI input on the TV. If you only have an HDMI input, then you must also buy an HDMI cable which is NOT included so be sure to order one. 2. You need high speed internet service, such as cable or DSL, which is distributed by a WIRELESS NETWORK router. (I have the lowest DSL tier available here through my phone company which is 3mbps and it works fine. When I run tests at speedtest dot net my actual download speed varies from about 1.5 mbps to just over 3 mbps depending on time of day.) 3. The name of your personal network and the password to connect to the wireless network if one is required (and a password SHOULD be required.) 4. An available AC power jack where you can leave it plugged in all the time. 5. A major credit card or debit card that is in either a Mastercard or Visa debit card. I used a debit card. 6. An internet connected computer to set up and maintain your ROKU account.
If you don't have those 6 things the ROKU 2 HD is not going to work for you. If you have all 6 then let's go!
Physical installation is simple on an older CRT TV like mine with the included composite (Red, White, Yellow) connectors common on most TV's and only takes a couple of minutes. It would be even faster on a newer TV since there is only one plug required if you use an HDMI input however the HDMI cable is not included so you would have to buy a HDMI cable.
After it is connected to one of the composite inputs or to a HDMI input, put the batteries in the remote just like you would to any remote. Next connect the power supply to the ROKU's power in jack and plug in the power supply to an AC outlet. Turn on your television, select the correct INPUT to where you connected it and you should now be seeing the bouncing ROKU logo or it has already booted. Then the next step is to go through the connection process screen so it will connect to your WI-FI (wireless internet device.) Pick your network name from the list of available networks, enter your network password on the keyboard screen and it connects to your network. After it connects you are prompted every step of the way to get it up and running.
Once it is booted, connected and updated next it will offer to install the most popular or what Roku calls "FAVORITE CHANNELS" such as Amazon, Netflix and Hulu-Plus. If you are going to use these services now of course you should go ahead and install those channels. In fact, even if you aren't signing up for the paid channels like Hulu-Plus or Netflix now you can still install them and if you ever want to subscribe then they are ready to go with a minimum of fuss. If you are going to use the AMAZON channel you need to link your ROKU to your Amazon account by following the onscreen prompts.
Your next stop after installing favorites should be the on screen CHANNEL STORE where you can install all the free channels of interest to you that you want. If you decide later they are just wasted space you can delete them. The channels are grouped by type. There are so many channels, many of which you have never heard of before, that it helps to have the ROKU website up as it offers brief descriptions of each channel and usually any associated fees in the "WHAT'S ON" page of the site. The Roku website's "What's On" page loads with FAVORITES displayed. On the left of this page is a list of the other categories. Explore the OTHER CATEGORIES to find additional channels to install that appeal to you. Some of these other channels are FREE, some are MONTHLY fee based channels, some are ANNUAL fee based channels and a couple of interesting ones are one time payments of $2 to $3 for lifetime access.
Another good source for channel info is an independent website called ROKU GUIDE DOT COM which offers more in-depth descriptions and unbiased reviews of the channels so you will know more about what to expect from them and any related charges. Additionally be sure to check the ROKU GUIDE DOT COM's "PRIVATE CHANNELS" page. There are several interesting channels you can get there that do not appear in the ROKU Channel Store. Just follow the onscreen instructions to add these private channels. The "NOWHERE TV" channel on the Private Channels page is a very interesting addition that should be in the Channel Store but for some reason it isn't. The Nowhere TV channel features segments of CBS's "THE LATE SHOW" with David Letterman and "THE LATE LATE SHOW" with Craig Ferguson among dozens of other offerings, some of which are audio feeds of complete public radio shows like "A Prairie Home Companion." Also several news feeds and specials are here like "60 Minutes." I enjoy Letterman, Ferguson and Garrison Keillor so "Nowhere TV" was quite a find for me.
The movie channels that are free, $2 to $3 for lifetime access or about that same cost on a per year subscription offer you mostly really old TV series, even older movie serials like "Flash Gordon" or "Green Hornet" and theatrical released films, mainly in black and white. The "Andy Griffith Show" for example. Know up front that you don't get every episode of any of these old TV series, but in most cases a sampling of several episodes. These are mainly films or TV shows that the copyrights have expired upon and yes some of them are actually silent movies!
If you want to watch newer or more popular releases then you will need to use Amazon or Netflix. If you are already an AMAZON PRIME member then you have access to thousands of things including theatrical films and newer TV series at no additional cost on the Amazon channel. I bought the Amazon Prime membership because of that benefit at a fairly reasonable cost (annually $79.99 which is about $6.77 per month.) If you are already an Amazon Prime member then the free programming available to you now makes getting a ROKU a no-brainer since you will already have what is essentially a premium channel at no extra cost. Even if you are not yet an Amazon Prime Member then you can still link your Amazon account to your ROKU so you can still rent or buy films or TV shows and pay for them through your account. This is appealing to some people who don't want to be running to the Redbox kiosk in the rain or snow.
What you DO NOT get on ROKU that you get on regular cable or even broadcast TV is extensive. I do not consider ROKU a replacement for your current broadcast antenna or cable service. Instead it is an augmentation and Roku can replace the pricey premium channel content that costs so much extra on cable. I'm keeping my basic broadcast cable.
ROKU does not deliver major broadcast network feeds live or cable channels like HBO or superstations TBS or WGN. No TNT, no AMC either. While there are some news channels, mostly these are more like podcasts as a list of stories comes up and you select the ones you want to watch on demand. There is no Weather Channel but there is Weather Underground which is pretty much the same information if delivered in a simpler format. For sports you can get the NBA, NFL, MLB or NHL packages at your own expense. There are also some sports digests, but no ESPN type coverage at all.
ROKU is an excellent streaming music delivery device! There are numerous music delivery channels and all but one I've found is totally free.
I have been a NETFLIX subscriber since they started up. When they had their infamous policy change I cancelled. Now I'm back but only because of ROKU. While the selection of streaming movies on ROKU is sparse compared to the online DVD rental listing, it is still a good value.
Here is my ROKU Channel lineup. MOVIES & TV episodes: Netflix, Amazon Instant Video, PUB D HUB (I upgraded to the GOLD tier for $2.50 per year but the basic offering is very good), Movie Vault (1000+ old movies for $4), Crackle (has commercials but some more modern films), Inmoo, Snag Films, Drive-In Classics, Koldcast, MyDamnChannel, House of Horrors, Open Film and Nowhere TV. NEWS: CNBC, ROKU Newscaster, Fox News (9 AM till 3 PM Eastern time only), NBC News, & Wall Street Journal. MUSIC: Pandora, Live 365 and Tune In. COMDEDY: Comedy Time. SPECIAL INTEREST: NASA TV, Spacevidcast and NASA Edge. SPORTS: SEC Digital Network. Even taking the paid services out of the equation it still equals a lot of choices for free. There are special interest channels for everything from cooking to Lacrosse.
My favorite ROKU discoveries so far are the PUB D HUB, KOLDCAST and NOWHERE TV channels. I'd never heard of these before. I'm sure there is more to discover and that new channels will be added, in fact several were added this week. Never expect to see your local TV channels, HBO, Showtime, Blockbuster or CNN live feeds on Roku. It isn't going to happen. What is more likely is that additional streaming services like VUDU or Blockbuster On Demand could be added along with new channels.
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