The ‘new’ Roku 2 claims to bring the same great performance and improved search functions that you get with the Roku 3, but for a fraction of the cost.
Aside from headphone support and dedicated gaming buttons on the remote, there’s reportedly no difference between the two systems.
We’ve just got hold of our review sample of what we’re also calling the 2015 edition of the Roku 2. Ahead of a full review and side-by-side comparison with the Roku 3, we’re posting our initial impressions of the new Roku 2 as well as some hands-on shots of the device.
New Roku 2 (2015 edition): The device
The same, squashed lozenge-cum-ashtray shape that’s defined the Roku range to date returns on the new Roku 2. The little Levi’s-esque purple tab returns on both the remote and the Roku 2 itself. It’s business as usual, basically. It’s the exact same size and shape as the than the Roku 3. In a police ID parade, the only way you’d be able to tell either device apart is by the numbers on the top.
The remote has a matt finish which we personally think its better than the shiny plastic of old; it not only looks better it provides a small measure of grip too, which we suppose makes up for the lack of a WiiMote-style wrist strap here.
There’s four dedicated shortcut buttons for Netflix, YouTube, Google Play and Rdio. Given that you’re going to primarily use Roku to access video on demand services it was a little surprising to see Rdio getting it’s own button over, say, Now TV or BBC iPlayer, both of which are available here.
New Roku 2 (2015 edition): The UI
Read our Roku 3 reviewSo far, so Roku. The same purple and white interface and neat animated intro sequence that you get on the Roku 3 is here.
Roku’s new search function works really well here. If you start tapping in the title of an actor, director or movie, the new Roku 2 will kick into gear, combing through the archives of Netflix, Popcornflix and Snagfilms.
At the moment, this is as wide as the Roku content dragnet is capable of being cast. In time, we understand that more services will be searchable in the same way. Even in this early, limited capacity, it’s still a cool function.
We’re not yet able to check out the promised ‘My Feed’ feature which Roku says will deliver trailers and extra information about upcoming titles. All we’re able to share with you right now is this ‘coming soon’ screen.
New Roku 2 (2015 edition): What else is in the box?
Aside from the new Roku 2 itself, we got a mains adapter (standard) with a series of exchangeable heads for different mains sockets. Whether you’d actually want to take something like a Roku with you on holiday or not is another question, but it’s a nice touch.
Curiously, there was no HDMI cable bundled with our review unit. Frankly, this isn’t a big deal for us (our office is a serpent’s nest of HDMI cables) but it’s something to bear in mind if you’re thinking of buying one as a gift for a non-techie friend or relative.
New Roku 2 (2015 edition): Initial thoughts
So far it looks like Roku has delivered on its promise with the new Roku 2. As far as we’re able to tell there’s virtually no difference between this and the Roku 3 – save for the remote.
The connections on the back are the same, the channels you can get are the same and the new service-agnostic search feature is the same.
Our initial impression is that this is a better value for money buy than the Roku 3. The features you lose out on are present and correct on the iOS and Android Roku mobile apps, which, to be honest, we prefer using anyway. We’ll deliver our full review along with a comparison of the two services shortly.