Why the Roku 2 XS Might Be the Perfect Gift for a Student

Why the Roku 2 XS Might Be the Perfect Gift for a StudentBeing a broke student is hard, but being a broke student without cable can be really dull. I spent several years not even going into my living room except as a path to the front door because I simply didn’t have anything plugged into my television. Local channels are only so entertaining, and there was far more to do online.

So what do you give a student who loves Internet programming and doesn’t have the money for cable television? The answer might be as simple as a Roku 2 XS. I decided to pick up one of these for myself as a replacement for a Mac mini we’d been using as a makeshift entertainment center for ages.

Here are a few reasons why the Roku 2 XS might be the perfect gift for a student.

Cost

It’s hard to beat a $99 price tag for something that not only delivers 1080p video, but also comes complete with a motion-sensitive remote that doubles as a game controller. Considering the value you get for that investment, there aren’t a lot of options out there that really offer the same type of flexibility as the Roku.

The XS isn’t the cheapest Roku model currently available. You can get a Roku LT for $50 that streams 720p video over Wi-Fi and will cover the vast majority of usage cases out there. In the end, value is best determined by the individual based on the features and preferences of the person. You can check out Ron Schenone’s review of the Roku LT here.

Features

The advantage of the XS over other Roku models is the included game controller-style remote and ability to connect by way of ethernet. You can also attach an external USB drive and play media off of it.

When you compare it to other streaming media players, it boasts one of the largest collections of exclusive channels of any streaming player out there. Media companies commission robust Roku apps in order to encourage users to check out their content. I spent a great deal of time pushing a media company I’ve worked with to create a Roku channel, and now its channel is one of the top-rated ones on the platform.

Here are some of the features of the Roku 2 XS.

  • 500+ Entertainment Channels
  • 480i/480p/720p/1080p Video Output (Composite / HDMI)
  • Motion-Sensitive Remote for Games
  • Ethernet Port
  • USB Port
  • 3.3 x 3.3 x 0.9 Inches
  • iOS and Android Remote Control Apps
  • 802.11n Wi-Fi (b/g/n Compatible) with WEP, WPA, and WPA2 Support
  • microSD Card Slot
  • Analog and Digital Stereo (RCA / HDMI)
  • Video: MP4 (H.264) MKV (H.264)
  • Audio: AAC, MP3

Some of the more popular channels include: Amazon Prime Instant Video, Netflix, Pandora, Crackle, Hulu Plus, TED, CNET, and UFC.

Final Thoughts

The Roku 2 XS is a glimpse at the future of video playback. Cable television is great, but it stands to reason that one day soon these small settop boxes will become the primary method on which media content is delivered to televisions. It requires very little power and does a remarkable amount of work.

I’ve found the Roku 2 XS to be incredibly peppy and easy to work with. It enables me to stream my favorite Internet shows and live channels on a TV without having to sacrifice a computer to do so. It really does work.

What do you think? Would you recommend a Roku 2 XS to a friend or family member?

Image: Roku

Article Written by

Ryan Matthew Pierson has worked as a broadcaster, writer, and producer for media outlets ranging from local radio stations to internationally syndicated programs. His experience includes every aspect of media production. He has over a decade of experience in terrestrial radio, Internet multimedia, and commercial video production.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1292299949 Nino Brunori

    I love the article but a ways back I actually went out looking for these types of devices and I found that the Roku, Sony and RCA line were extremely locked down.
    Also the Western Digital Live TV was really good until bRad stopped making hacks due to the keys for NetFlix.

    The Mini Android 4.0 HD 1080P TV BOX Network Media Player with Wi-Fi HDMI USB AV TF is not only $99 but has WiFi, plays every format thinkable, is upgradeable, can stream to it and use android Apps.

    What these companies are trying to do is put out a sleek brand name while locking down your content. The WD Live TV offers games on it’s remote but you have to subscribe the same as it’s online TV service.

    The Mini Android can access the Google Store which means thousands of free apps, games and emulators which is mind blowing and as said $99.

    This isn’t the only version and there are better and faster types of these android based set top boxes.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1292299949 Nino Brunori

    Where’s my comment?

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1292299949 Nino Brunori

    Where’s my comment?

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1292299949 Nino Brunori

    I love the article but a ways back I actually went out looking for these
    types of devices and I found that the Roku, Sony and RCA line were
    extremely locked down.
    Also the Western Digital Live TV was really good until brad stopped making hacks due to the keys for NetFlix.

    The Mini
    Android 4.0 HD 1080P TV BOX Network Media Player with Wi-Fi HDMI USB AV
    TF is not only $99 but has WiFi, plays every format thinkable, is
    upgradeable, can stream to it and use android Apps.

    What these
    companies are trying to do is put out a sleek brand name while locking
    down your content. The WD Live TV offers games on it’s remote but you
    have to subscribe the same as it’s online TV service.

    The Mini
    Android can access the Google Store which means thousands of free apps,
    games and emulators which is mind blowing and as said $99 or better being it was last year.

    This isn’t the only version and there are better and faster types of these android based set top boxes.

    Thank goodness for the cut and past buffer.
    Locker Gnome error or intentional deletion?

  • bill fozzy

    I got one of these as a gift. Used it a couple times and wasn’t too impressed.

    First of all, it specifically says “Does not require a computer” on the front of the box. However, as soon as you turn it on, the set up tells you to log on a computer and create an account with Roku, which requires a credit card.

    As I didn’t plan to ever buy anything with the Roku, and didn’t expect to ever really use the thing anyway, I wasn’t too keen on giving them my information. I talked to their live support and they set me up an account without the CC info.

    It may have 500 channels, but most of them provide public domain garbage nobody cares about, or just clips. All the “good ones” require a subscription (except Crackle, which is in SD). Also with Hulu Plus, alot of shows are not licensed to play on anything but a computer and are not available on a Roku.
    There’s also no easy way to stream local media. The only way I found to do it was to use Plex, which was full of bugs and unreliable. As far as I know, this is also the only way to use Youtube (there is not native channel)
    The Roku is too locked down for me. I’ll stick with XBMC.

    • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1292299949 Nino Brunori

      The Western Digital Live returns an address to Youtube telling them what country you live in. That may be why you are having problems.

      When I say trust me it’s because I spent a great deal researching and all these brand names aside from the WD Live series won’t stream your private collection very well or at all. They are locked and pushing the DLNA crap which I see as an industry trying to take control of a horse that has already left the barn the same as DRM.

      The Android set top boxes don’t care what you do with them and that’s what I wanted rather than creating my own media player using Windows. Hell, they now have a full fledged media player that’s just a USB stick. It’s limited but it works.

      When you can pay the same price or cheaper than a locked down system the choice is an easy one.

      • bill fozzy

        Yea, right now I’m using a 7 year old laptop running XBMC on Windows as a media PC. I control it with a wireless gamepad. It can’t do 1080p, but runs anything 720p with no problems, and I’m actually pretty happy with it.

        The reason I like XBMC so much is it automatically downloads posters, fanart, screen shots, and plot descriptions about every media file. It’s hard to find a specific episode of Family Guy with just file names. It also has plugins like PseudoTV that emulate digital cable using your media library, streams, and hulu.

        I recently bought a Raspberry Pi and installed XBMC on it. Although that little board can play 1080p well, the XBMC menus are too slow and I need my media PC to be rock solid stable.

        I might consider an Android set top box in the near future, as XBMC for Android is in development, and I believe the beta is already out.

  • mtkupp

    I love my Roku box. I have the XD which I got on sale. I use it primarily for Netflix, and watching anime on the crunchyroll and funimation channels (I’m a subscriber). The only issues I’ve run into are with the new Vudu application. My wireless connection was having bandwidth issues with their HD feeds. I’ll eventually get an XS and use the ethernet jack.