What is a Roku? Yes, that is a very good question. In fact it's a question that I would have had a couple months ago.
At the beginning of December I entered myself into a sweepstakes to win a Roku player and a year of Hulu Plus service. I didn't win. Despite this I was extremely intrigued by the product, to the point that we have ordered one and it will be arriving this week.
A Roku is a digital video player allowing you to watch streaming video from the internet on your TV. Their current lineup includes 3 players priced $59.99, $79.99 and $99.99. All of the players will connect to either an HD or SD television set and can connect to your wireless network with the built in wi-fi.
If you have a Netflix subscription, then you would probably love to have a Roku player. It's the original set top box for Netflix (at least I believe that's the case). We recently got a Netflix account which includes unlimited access to the movies and shows that they have available for streaming. We have a Wii, which now supports Netflix streaming, but that only takes care of the TV in the living room. In the bedroom we have watched (as we do with Hulu) either on the laptop screen or via the old, on-it's-last-leg laptop connected to the TV via an S-Video cable. That certainly is not the most convenient.
Enter the Roku, the ability to stream Netflix to the TV, without the need for a computer. But it's also much more than that. Take a look at their website at www.roku.com and see the large number of channels available. There are many free channels available, as well as many channels that allow you to view your existing subscriptions to premium content. I'm looking forward to all the channels, and not just Netflix. I wish that Hulu was available without requiring a Hulu Plus subscription, but I think I can live with that.
Getting a deal on the player:
I mentioned that Roku has 3 players at different price points. We ordered the Roku XD, which is the one that normally sells for $79.99. We didn't pay that much for it though.
I was doing some searching and found that Amazon had the XD for the $79.99 price, but then I noticed that they had an offer going on. If you spent $5 or more on their Amazon Video on Demand content, either for rental or purchase, you got a $20 credit towards the XD. This put the price down to $59.99, the cost of the lowest model, the Roku HD. So, I figured that I could spend $5 and end up saving $15 on the player.
A couple days later my wife found a deal that required connecting your Twitter account through Amazon and sending out a tweet about their Video on Demand to receive a $5 VoD credit. Ok, so I did that and got a $5 credit, which is exactly what I needed to spend to get the $20 credit.
We used a $5 credit for VoD to purchase The Princess Bride which was available for $5.49. It's not necessarily one of my favorite movies, but that's okay, and the children mike like it eventually. So, for 49¢ we got a $20 credit to use towards the Roku XD.
We immediately ordered the Roku XD, finding that it was out of stock at the moment. This wasn't too surprising with the seeming increased popularity of the player, and the availability of a $20 discount from Amazon. Still, we placed the order knowing that we would get it once they had it in stock again. We also choose the Super Saver shipping, which, although it takes longer, saves more money for us.
Now, while waiting to receive the player from Amazon I have noticed that they have another special offer. When I register the player with the VoD service I will receive a $5 VoD credit. So, it gets even better, approximately $90 worth of product for $60.48.
So, the player shipped yesterday, one week after Amazon had them in stock again. I guess they figure that the 5-8 business days on the Super Saver shipping is how long they take to ship it, aiming for closer to the 8 days for the customer to receive it. I would have figured that it had more to do with the shipping method rather than how long they wait to get it out the door. This is really my only complaint so far, and it has nothing to do with the product.
Once we receive the player and I have a chance to set it up and play with it a bit, I plan to post a full review here. I may even post an intermediate review after getting it set up.
If you are thinking that a Roku player would be right for you, keep in mind that the Twitter offer for the $5 VoD and the $20 credit towards the Roku XD are now expired. You can still get the best available pricing direct from Roku. By following my link I will get a free month of Netflix service if you make a purchase. Obviously I wouldn't mind that, so please bear that in mind if you decide to make the purchase. Hopefully my next posts will convince you further that you have to have one of these devices.