The original Roku 2 was released back in March 2013 and was one of the favourite media streaming devices of the general public and also the critics. However, the time has come where it needs an update and this is exactly what the Roku team have now released – the refreshed and updated Roku 2 2015 edition.
The Roku 2 box is very similar to that of the Roku 3, a compact, glossy black puck with rounded corners. On the rear of the device you’ll find a HDMI, Ethernet and power port as well as a microSD card slot. On the right side you’ll find a standard USB port. Compared to the old Roku 2 version, they’ve added wired network connection support with the Ethernet port but removed the composite video output. Dual-band Wi-Fi (a/b/g/n compatible) is also integrated.
As expected you’ll also get a remote in the box, however this is where a big difference between the 2015 edition and the old version appears. Roku have removed the useful headphone jack which appeared on the previous version so wave goodbye to listening to audio through the remote. The new remote also uses infrared and therefore you must keep a line-of-sight for it to work unlike its predecessor – the new Roku 3 remote keeps this functionality.
Roku also have a free mobile app which you can download to control the Roku 2, and is available on both iOS and Android. It has a variety of features such as streaming videos from your mobile device to your TV and also the ability to search for a programme using your voice.
User Interface / Channels
The actual UI of the Roku device remains very similar as it has for as long as I can remember and this isn’t necessarily a bad thing as I’ve never had any problems with it. Navigating through the different menus and options is a breeze and everything is found where you would expect.
Two new additions we did find were the Roku Feed and Movies Coming Soon. The Roku Feed will basically keep you up-to-date on newly released titles and let you know when they’re available on various channels through the Roku. You can add films to your feed from the Movies Coming Soon list using the asterisk button on your remote.
The Roku Channel Store now offers over 1400+ channels for you to choose from. These include a range of free channels, subscription channels and rental options which gives you the freedom to watch what you love and only pay for what you want. Well known channels include YouTube, BBC iPlayer, All 4, ITV Player, Demand 5, Netflix, BBC Sport, Spotify and NOW TV.
The refreshed Roku 2 has had a hardware update and has been fitted with a new processor. Overall the performance seemed snappy and I didn’t find myself waiting around for channels to load.
The unit supports resolutions up to 1080p although not all content available will support this natively, however the Roku 2 will upscale this where possible. 4K is not yet supported but something we expect to see in future products.
The Roku 2 may not sit at the companies top spot for the best media streamer but with this 2015 refresh Roku have definitely increased the potential of this device. Long gone are the days of having to wait for loading screens while you’ll still receive the same 1,400+ channel lineup.
It’s not all good news however as the remote has had a downgrade loosing the headphone jack, although in my opinion the hardware upgrade outweighs this.
The refresh has done the Roku 2 a world of good and if you haven’t yet purchased a media streamer now might be the time to do so!
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