If variety is the spice of life, the current television and media market offers an infinite number of recipes to choose from. Some people are still watching cable and satellite television, while others have moved over to Netflix, Hulu, and other web-based options. Roku, a digital media streaming device, is the latest craze among TV and music aficionados, and it can offer a welcome alternative to subscription services.
Or, if you prefer, it can serve as a complement to, and aggregate of, those subscriptions.
The Roku devices serve as conduits from services like Pandora and Amazon Instant Video to the customer's television screen. Each service is called a channel in Roku parlance, and you can switch between channels at will. In other words, you can listen to music one minute, watch a television show from another service the next, then switch over to a recently released movie, all with the convenience of a remote control.
There are a couple different Roku devices, each of which costs less than $100. You might want to subscribe to pay channels, such as Netflix, but even these services won't add up to the monthly expense of a typical cable subscription.
You can stream Netflix to your television through your computer, but Roku offers access to dozens of different media channels. If Netflix doesn't have the TV show you're looking for, you can switch to Hulu or Amazon, or something else entirely. This more accurately reflects the availability found in traditional cable or satellite service.
One of the drawbacks to media subscription services like Netflix is the need for a computer. You have to surf using your mouse and keyboard, which means that a simple task like watching television consumes both your TV and your laptop. With Roku, on the other hand, the device does all the work, and you can surf with the comfort of a remote control. Plus, the device is equipped to connect wirelessly, which means fewer cables to worry about and no chance of compatibility problems.
Investing in a Roku device won't insulate you from future choices. Since the software is updated by the company, you'll get access to new channels and technology without having to go out and spend more money on a new device.
In addition to selecting programs from a wide variety of channels on Roku, you can also connect a USB drive to enjoy recorded media. The Roku devices also allow you to play games, and since the more expensive models come with a remote control equipped for gaming, you don't have to worry about investing in a new phone or tablet.
Roku is one of those products that covers a lot of ground for consumers, which is why it continues to grow in popularity. The availability of channels (some of which are free) combined with the freedom to decide when and where you will spend money make it a solid investment.