I’m always trying to improve my home media experiences, and until now, I’ve been happy with my Original Xbox running XBMC and my 1st Gen Apple TV running XBMC & Boxee. I keep most of my media on a 1TB network storage device, and it works great.
But yesterday, I was at Best Buy picking up some accessories for my iPad2, and I ended up buying a Roku XD. I have a Hulu+ subscription which I enjoy with my iPad, and a co-worker clued me into Amazon’s instant on-demand videos which are actually cheaper than the Charter on Demand videos I get through my cable service, and since the Roku XD supports both of those, I thought I would give it a spin.
So far, I am very impressed. With Hulu+ I have access to more TV shows than I could possibly watch, and a subscription to Amazon Prime will give me even more, including movies. I was also pleasantly surprised with some other channels available on the Roku device, like Crackle.com which has free movies on demand.
The UI on the Roku is a little meh. It’s functional and thats about it. I really like the remote, and performance wise, while the menu changes are a bit sluggish, the video playback on my TV is excellent.
For a $79 device, the Roku XD gets my approval. I actually am considering getting a 2nd Roku for another TV in the house, and I’ll play around with a server software called Chaneru which should let me play/stream my current media library off the network to the roku devices, eliminating the need for a 2nd XBMC/Boxee device for downloaded media.
As much as I love apple products, I cannot forsee or justify spending the prices Appple demands for media in iTunes. Why buy a TV season for $36 in iTunes, when I can get the same thing from Amazon for $19? Or included in a monthly subscription from Hulu+ or Amazon Prime?