Solid. I can stream hockey through the Roku via NHL GameCenter. I put my old Roku in my office/bedroom where I can catch games and other content absent a
receiver. This type of use explains the logic behind a deal Roku inked with
Time Warner Cable
(TWC - Get Report)
to make the provider's
app available for streaming on Roku.
Shortcomings? I can only think of one big one and one small one, outside of dreams of further innovation that somebody else -- Apple, Intel, Roku's next update, whom or whatever -- could have coming.
First, the onscreen keyboard you use to search programming sucks as bad on Roku 3 as it does on the other models. It's the type where you select each character one-by-one. There's got to be a solution -- motion technology, voice recognition, whatever. That said, it might be tough to keep the Roku at its $99 price point with too many bells and whistles.
Second, while Roku imports your downloaded channels when you hook up your new device and log into your existing Roku account, it doesn't preserve links between services such as Netflix, Amazon,
(P - Get Report)
. You have to go online to reestablish those connections.
Some of the apps aren't the greatest, particularly when you compare them to mobile versions and desktop experiences. For instance, you can't share music you listen to on Pandora or Spotify to social networks. Small deal. And, ultimately, it comes down to developers at these companies making the platforms they deliver to Roku better.
Overall, it's really the best $99 you can spend on a streaming box. And, as somebody who has played with Apple TV quite a bit, there really is no comparison. Roku nails this one across the board, whereas Apple TV merely serves Apple's desire to sell content through iTunes.
Written by Rocco Pendola in Santa Monica, Calif.