Channel 5

Roku 3

Monday 07 October 2013


Rating of 5

The basics

The Roku 3 has been available Stateside for some time now, the little black box that could has only just made its way across the pond. For a penny shy of £100, this tiny media streamer aims to solve your web TV woes once and for all, providing a one stop shop for whatever you want to watch, be it movies, top TV, live sport or even new music. Is it worth the price of admission however when the Roku 2 family rings up so much less at the till? We plugged one in to find out.

Now TV Box: The best £10 you’ll ever spend

How to make any TV a smart TV

The good

The Roku 3’s curves are new, but it’s just as small as other members of the roku family, and the black colouring means it’s even more subtle tucked away under your TV. It’s quiet as ever, and uses thirty times less power than some consoles, so you can leave it on around the clock, ready and waiting to go. It’s faster though, with a UI that whizzes around and loads up quickly.

Roku hasn’t fixed what was never broken to begin with fortunately. It’s still painless to set up and can be bossed around with an iPhone or Android smartphone app. When it comes to content, you’re beyond spoiled for choice. Netflix, Demand Five, Now TV so you can watch live football, it’s all on there, even Spotify for Premium members, which is great news for those whose best speakers are attached to their telly. It all looks great, and if you want to play your own media, just pop in a USB stick or play it straight from your smartphone.

The killer new feature however - one of those ‘How did nobody think of this before?’ moments - is the private listening option. There’s a 3.5mm audio jack on the side of the remote: plug some headphones in and you can listen along wirelessly, bypassing your TV speakers entirely. It only works with what you can find on Roku, of course, not other sources, but it’s an incredibly useful feature to have nonetheless, and a real reason to upgrade to the Roku 3.

The bad

It’s hard to pick flaws in the Roku. Its USB playback app won’t open every video format there is (it doesn’t support commonly used .AVI files, for instance, and doesn’t support subtitles on .MKV containers), it doesn’t work with Apple’s AirPlay streaming standard, and it’s lacking a few services such as YouTube and Lovefilm. But if you have a computer on your network, you can bypass almost all of these issues with the Plex app, which piggy backs off of it to stream anything to your telly.

Other than that, there’s just the question of price. At £99.99, it’s not the cheapest option out there: the £10 Now TV Box, for instance, is based off the Roku 2, and only really lacks Netflix, USB support and the Roku 3’s remote control headphones. And if you’ve got a PS3 or Xbox 360 already, you can stream almost all the same content already (albeit with a very noisy fan in the background). For everyone else though, the great sweep of options available on the Roku 3 more than justify its markup.

Google Chromecast: Incredible £20 media streamer revealed

Five things to look for in a smart TV

The bottom line

Put simply, the Roku 3 is the finest media streamer on the market right now. It’s small, powerful, does almost everything, and its only real downside is its lack of AirPlay support. If you don’t live in a house filled with Macs and iPhones though, and you want more than what the incredible £10 Now TV Box can offer, there’s nothing better out there.

Currys Top Products

Roku 3 is tagged with media streamer, roku and roku 3. Select a tag (media streamer, for example) to find everything on The Gadget Show about the subject.

User comments

Be the first one to leave a comment.

Join Channel 5

Creating an account is free, will only take a few moments and will allow you to enjoy the full benefits of 5FWD and Channel 5:

  • Create lists of your most wanted and owned products
  • Leave article comments without having to re-enter your login details
  • Get updated with all the latest gadget and car news

Leave a comment

Please note that we will not expose your email, but we might use it to email you back. Links may be included in your comments but HTML is not permitted.
* mandatory field

  • Vodafone Smart 4

    Vodafone's no stranger to the budget blower arena, with last year's Smart III providing fairly…

  • Tonino Lamborghini Antares

    If you thought your brand new iPhone 5s in gold was the cream of the crop when it comes to luxury…

  • Gigabyte P34Gv2 gaming laptop

    When you think of gaming laptops, your mind usually goes towards hulking behemoths that more…

  • Nokia Lumia 930

    Meet the Nokia Lumia 930, the latest 4G flagship from the now-Microsoft company, and the first…

  • USB iShaver

    It seems like you can get practically anything powered by USB these days, and now the humble…

  • Nokia Lumia 635

    Nokia's currently on a Windows Phone 8.1 roll, unleashing the budget-friendly Lumia 630 back in May,…

  • Heimplanet ‘The Cave’ tent

    How do you solve a problem like tent poles? In a bid to make its £435 ‘The Cave’ the fastest…

  • Singtrix karaoke machine

    Love it or hate it, karaoke is an absolute riot - even if you can't sing to save your life. You…

  • LG G Watch

    Google's vision of the smartwatch is finally with us, but can Android Wear succeed where so many of…

  • Creative Sound Blaster Roar SR20

    Creative surprised us last month with the Sound Blaster AXX 200, a Bluetooth speaker that packs in…