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The Roku 2 XS Streaming Player Now Has Gaming Support
Take a Look at the Roku 2 XS
The newest edition of the Roku 2 XS streaming player has an added slot for a microSD card along with Bluetooth support that allows you to play downloadable games. The current price of the 2 XS (as of August 18, 2012) is $98.99 and it lets the user play Rovio’s Angry Birds by just using Roku’s new enhanced, motion-sensor remote.
The lower priced Roku 2 HD at $60.00 and Roku 2 HD at $80.00 still come with the IR remote, however you can also purchase the newer remote control, that includes an Angry Birds license separately.
Regardless, the best selling point of a Roku player is what it does best, and that is to stream an impressive variety of Web media content to your HDTV through your home network internet connection.
With over 250 channels of media content that is also optimized for watching on a large screen the Roku streaming players are the easiest to use and most cost friendly way to stream content to your TV. Both the Roku 2 XD and 2 XS will support 1080p, while the 2 HD is limited to 720p.
The 2 XS Sets Up in Less Than Five Minutes
I personally own and use the Roku 2 XS and it literally took me four minutes, using the included instructional guide, to get it out of the box and totally setup. If you are going to connect the player wirelessly and only need to use an A/V composite cable (Red, Yellow and White RCA connectors), all the cables you will need are included.
If you plan on using an Ethernet cable connection you will have to supply your own Ethernet cable. The same for HDMI, you will need to supply one. If you have an HDTV with an HDMI port, use an HDMI cable instead of the red, yellow and white A/V composite cable. Like everything else out there, you can spend a lot or a little for cables. Don’t spend a lot for an HDMI cable. It is not necessary, so buy the cheapest one.
Although it is recommended by many to use an Ethernet cable and an HDMI cable for a better quality picture, I connected my Roku 2 XS wirelessly using only the included A/V cable and I really can’t see any difference, the picture quality is really very good either way.
I am sure that all the experts are right and using an HDMI and Ethernet cables will provide a better image, and an HDMI cable is necessary if you want to view anything in HD. So, it is all a matter of personal preference, but hooking up my player with what was in the box is working very well for me.
The Roku 2 XS remote has no off/on switch. Once you have everything connected just turn on the TV, and the welcome screen will appear and guide you through the startup process. You will be prompted to setup your Roku account and to supply some credit card info, in the event that you may want to install any of the paid services in the future. You will then have to link your player to your account. You just have to type in a code on your computer and your done.
What You Can Watch With A Roku
Your next step should be to visit the Channel Store and start installing whatever content channels you want. There are plenty of free channels and some really good and popular paid ones, like Netflix, Hulu Plus and Amazon. Amazon offers a 30 day free for their Amazon Prime, which has premium movies. If you want to keep the service after the trial it is about $79.00 a year.
Crackle from Sony is a new free service that has movies very similar to Amazon Prime but it is ad-supported and there are commercial breaks in the movies. The breaks are not like conventional TV commercials, they occur about every fifteen or twenty minutes and only last for about fifteen to twenty seconds. The first time I watched a movie from Crackle I wasn’t expecting advertising and I was a little annoyed. However, the breaks weren’t really that bad, once I got used to them, and it really beats paying for movies.
AnyRoku player will really deliver a lot of free and interesting niche type content. If it is your intent to replace your cable service with a Roku, you won’t be disappointed. There is so much more comparable content with the Roku than with cable, it just takes a little adjusting to get used to the different way of searching for what you want to watch.
A new addition to the Roku 2 XS is game playing. The Angry Birds game is available and is an actual channel listing. The software for the game is downloaded and stored in the players 256MB internal memory; in the event that you exhaust the available memory storage, all of the Roku players have room for expansion via a microSD card slot.
Roku 2 XS Motion Sensor Remote
The motion sensor remote that comes with the 2 XS works when you point it at the screen and gesture. When you move the remote; the cursor on the screen moves too. The remote also has an A and B button, mainly because Roku intends to be coming out with two or three dozen games in time for this year’s holiday season.
As far as gaming is concerned, most people that are interested in it already have a Wii or something similar. The gaming capability is a nice touch, but I don’t think that will be a big part of Roku’s future plans. The main thrust of their appeal.
That being said, the fact that the new enhanced remote uses Bluetooth rather than infrared is an improvement. With Bluetooth, there is no need to be concerned about maintaining a line of sight between your remote and your player.
The Roku 2 XS does have a USB port that allows you to play DRM-free content that you have stored on your flash drive. The HD and XD versions do not have any USB ports. The file format support is basic: AAC audio, MP3 audio, MP4 video and PNG or JPG images.
What is missing is the capability to stream from your PC’s hard drive or storage device that is attached to your network. Also, the current “2” series of Roku streaming players support only 2.4GHz (802.11b/g/n) Wi-Fi spectrum. The 5GHz Wi-Fi version would be better in highly populated urban areas that may have a Wi-Fi spectrum that is overcrowded, to prevent the occasional stalling and freeze ups.
Which Roku Should You Buy
Within the new Roku “2”series, the Roku 2 XS is noticeably superior to both the 2 HD and the 2 XD, because of the Bluetooth remote control and the USB support.
If gaming is not your thing and you are not concerned about storing your own media on a flash drive, then consider saving a few dollars with the Roku 2 HD or 2 XD.
If you already have a Roku streaming player and are satisfied with it, there is no reason to change or upgrade. Other than games, the content available is the same for all Roku players, newer and older.
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