I bought this Roku LT after looking at the various options – all the Roku models, Apple TV, and other streaming media boxes. I ultimately decided on the Roku LT because it was the best value, offered a wide range of channel choices, and seemed intuitive and easy to operate. It isn’t perfect – the UI could be improved and it doesn’t have all the content available – but it is a great starter product for anyone looking into the streaming media world and even if you don’t have tech experience its a cinch to set up.
The Roku LT is small, light, and simple. It comes with a basic remote, though I will note that mine had the three “app buttons” for Pandora, Netflix, and Crackle – the remote in the picture didn’t show that. It is purple but not bright, so you won’t notice it too much after you set it up. It feels a bit cheaper in build quality terms than the Apple TV – especially the remote – but I don’t think that’s a significant factor and I have no worries about the Roku LT breaking.
Very easy. Plugged it in, registered the device via my laptop, and connected to my WiFi network. You will need a Wifi network to use Roku LT, as there is no ethernet jack. This is not a big downside, but you should be aware that speeds over WiFi are usually lower than via an ethernet cord that is plugged directly into a modem/router.
User Interface (UI):
Good, but a lot of room for improvement. It isn’t difficult to figure out, but it has the feeling of a system that was designed a few years ago. Even in the stock apps there are little quirks like where the selector is placed, how the info box always pops up and blocks other movie titles, etc. Small things generally and I don’t want to say that its difficult to figure out at all – on the whole, it is intuitive and clear. But if you do a side by side comparison to the Apple TV, the difference is clear – Apple made the UI a priority and the experience is excellent, whereas Roku didn’t. It almost feels like a beta version. This could be updated in the future though, so I’ll reword this if it changes.
Great – has Amazon Instant, Hulu+, Netflix, and more. Those mentioned are all subscription but there are plenty of free apps/channels – BBC World News, PBS, Smithsonian, NBC, etc. There are also a variety of free “private” channels that don’t show up in the main store, but you can add them via your computer. Just google Roku free private channels and plenty of lists show up.
This flexibility in content was a main reason I bought the Roku LT over the Apple TV. Apple TV is locked – it determines when new apps come on, and until then you’re stuck with what they give you, which is somewhat limited. For most people it probably doesn’t matter, but this is a significant difference between the two products.
Comparison to other models:
Roku offers a handful of models and their naming and differentiation is somewhat confusing. The Roku LT does 720p HD (which is more than enough for most, though if you have a 40″+ TV then you might want 1080p which is supported by Roku 2 XD or Roku 2 XS) though you’ll have to use a HDMI cable to get true HD quality. The Roku LT basically does everything the Roku 2 XD model does – only difference is the color. If you want an ethernet port, a remote that allows you to play games, or the best HD (1080p) then you’ll have to get the Roku XD or XS, but otherwise do the LT – there’s no reason to pay almost double if you don’t need those things.
Compared to Apple TV, its tough to say which is better. It all depends on if you’re a heavy Apple user (iPhone, iPad, etc.) because if so, then the Apple TV has some pretty awesome feature (AirPlay) and your songs, videos, and everything else will sync immediately to the device. And let’s face it, Apple designs better UI’s! Their experience is unparalleled. But, its 2x as much as the Roku LT AND Apple limits the content so if you’re not a hardcore Apple user and on a budget, Roku is the way to go.
Other companies make similar products but through my research, I couldn’t find any that really offered the same simplicity, price point, and content. While there may be better products for niche groups of consumers, the Roku LT should serve almost everyone well!
Hope that you enjoyed the review – feel free to ask me any questions about the device! I’ll post a video later on showing how it operates. Also, if you need a good HDMI cable to go with it (not included), the AmazonBasics High-Speed HDMI Cable (6.5 Feet)has worked well for me, its much cheaper than one at a brick and mortar store and just as good!