Why I bought -- then returned -- Roku 3

Discussion in 'Apple TV and Home Theater' started by Toe, Jun 25, 2013.

  1. Toe macrumors 65816


    Mar 25, 2002
    For your edification, here's why I returned the Roku 3 I just bought a few days ago. I'll be buying an Apple TV, but am considering holding out for the next gen.

    I have an LG "smart" TV, which has some online functionality. Basically, it can stream Netflix. That's nice, but very limited. And the interface is horrible. So I wanted a box that would stream more content and have a friendlier interface.

    I settled on the Roku 3 for several reasons:
    - It supports Amazon Prime video
    - It allows content searching across carriers
    - The remote has a headphone jack

    I got it, hooked it up, and returned it soon afterward. Here's why.

    I never even watched any content on the Roku, but I did get to spend a couple of hours fighting it.

    The first thing I had to do was connect it to a network. But no matter how carefully I checked every setting, it refused to talk to my AirPort. This becomes quite annoying, since I have a complex password, and that meant fiddling through many, many clicks of the remote to enter password characters via four little arrow buttons. Over and over again. :(

    Finally, I gave up on the wifi and ran an ethernet cable to it to at least get it set up. That worked (though it's not even an option on earlier Roku's). :eek:

    Then I had to set up a Roku account on my computer and associate it with the box. Fine. Now I can do the rest of my setup through my Mac, right? Wrong. Unbelievably, if I want to set up Netflix, I have to enter the email address and password with the stupid little four arrows of the remote. Why the heck couldn't I just use the computer's keyboard?? :mad:

    So somebody told me I could set up my iPhone as the remote for it and use that keyboard. Cool, that ought to help, right? And it did briefly, until the app stopped talking to the Roku. Then it just plum refused to ever find the Roku, even when I quit the app or rebooted the iPhone. So I went to manually enter the IP address of the Roku into the app, and the app won't accept numeric input. In other words, it was just horribly glitchy. :confused:

    So that's three huge interface flaws in a row. And I'm going to commit to this device as a way to get a better interface? I don't think so. :rolleyes:

    The Apple TV can't stream Amazon, but it can AirPlay my Mac's screen to the TV, so that basically does the same thing. Plus the fact that it can AirPlay anything on my Mac is pretty cool. :cool:

    I'm willing to forgo the other two "benefits" I had imagined the Roku would have in order to not have to put up with its awful glitches. Forget that. :p

    So I'm happy to get an Apple TV instead. Except that the current rev is basically at the end of it's cycle. Since all iOS devices appear to be ready for a refresh, I figure the TV will get a bump with the rest of 'em. And I'll be very happy to have it instead of the allegedly "better" features of the Roku 3. :D

    In other words, just as with phones -- just because a device has more/better features doesn't make it worth having. If the device drives you crazy, are those couple of features really worth the headaches? :apple:
  2. waw74 macrumors 68030

    May 27, 2008
    the roku and the app work fine for me.

    did you try rebooting your network hardware? as that's in the path between the app and the box, and sometimes can cause issues?
    or rebooting the roku box itself.
    i loose the aTV from the remote app occasionally too.

    and the aTV will be different how?:confused:
    although i guess now the aTV supports the apple bluetooth keyboard. but is it worth it to unpair from your computer, pair with the aTV, unpair with aTV, and then repair with your computer to type a password that's under 20 characters?

    not really,
    1. you won't have 5.1 surround sound, may not be an issue for you.
    2. if airplay mirroring is working at it's best, it will still have low frame rate, which you will see in fast action, or panning shots.
    3. mirroring only works if your mac was made in the past couple years.
    4. you have to have your computer handy, you can't just use the remote in your hand to control it.
    5. you can't shut the screen off, so you have the macbook flashing beside you while you're trying to watch TV
    6. And probably the most important, no amazon prime in HD on the computer. so your quality will be lower before airplay gets involved.

    not really, they just completely rebuilt the hardware 3 months ago. even though it has basically the same specs, they wouldn't wast time redesigning and retooling the manufacturing process if they were about to stop making it.

    you had a bad experience with roku, but i know several people, myself included who think it's great, I'm guessing you're going to have some sort of issue with the aTV also.
    it's not like there will be a choir singing and rays of light shooting out from behind the box just cause it's made by apple.
  3. squeeks macrumors 68040


    Jun 19, 2007
    I have three roku's (an original, a 2 xs, and a 3) all three of which connect to my Asus wireless router just great!

    The phone app is fantastic for entering login info, never had an issue there either. :/

    In my experience with the two airports i've used, (G, and N) they don't particularly like anything non apple, always have to reboot them to get devices to connect to them. Sorry you were having issues... :(
  4. CoMoMacUser macrumors 6502a

    Jun 28, 2012
    My Roku 2 XD never has any problems connecting to my Time Capsule. The app works fine on my Nexus 4 and iPad 1.
  5. Plutonius macrumors 604


    Feb 22, 2003
    New Hampshire, USA
    So, it's bad because you couldn't set it up ?

    You really should have spent some more effort on it and got it working so you could truly evaluate it.
  6. jmac049 macrumors member

    Jul 21, 2011
    I have a Roku 1 and 2 and I hooked them up with no problem. Perhaps you got a bad Roku. It does happen from time to time.
  7. Primejimbo macrumors 68040

    Aug 10, 2008
    I know this has been asked and I will look, but I thought I would ask you since you said you liked it. How are the channels like Disney?
  8. Digital Skunk, Jun 26, 2013
    Last edited: Jul 30, 2013

    Digital Skunk macrumors 604

    Digital Skunk

    Dec 23, 2006
    In my imagination
    While I do tend to agree that Apple devices are a little more intuitive, and first impressions are lasting ones, I don't think anyone that couldn't make it past the setup isn't saying much about the quality of the device.

    I couldn't get my Mom's Nissan autostart to start the car. Didn't know what I had to do and just sat there. Doesn't mean all Nissans or autostart systems are crap, and that I should stick with outdated tech simply because I am unwilling to change or respect newer/different . . . much like the phone of a certain company. (sorry had to throw in that cheap shot like you did)

    In the end I am glad I came to the thread. My wife is considering a Roku for many of those reasons. I do think we'll get through the setup just fine though, and if we don't and have as many issues as you did, we'll just exchange it first, or at least try and figure out what we're doing wrong.
  9. dugbug macrumors 65816


    Aug 23, 2008
    Somewhere in Florida
    maybe the op should try the plexconnect for expanding an apple tv's channels.

    I never got a roku but I respect what they are doing: bringing the tivo one-search-for-it-all.
  10. waw74 macrumors 68030

    May 27, 2008
    check out www.roku.com/channels
    each channel is what the developer makes of it, much like the app store on iOS, some apps might sound great but are absolute cr**. and then there are a lot that have no interest to me, there are tons of religion channels, a lot of the mega-churches have their own channels set up so you can re-watch their sermons.
    thankfully most of the channels are free, so you can check them out. although a lot require a subscription to get the video, (like netflix)

    i mostly use netflix, amazon prime, and plex.
    ocassionally if i'm traveling, i'll use pandora (i prefer music to be in the room, not out of my laptop speakers) (at home i have a stereo with airplay)

    it does have games, but i'm not really a gamer, played the free angry birds game, it actually works pretty well with the accelerometer in the remote.
    games you normally have to pay for.

    if you read the description of the disney channel it says.
    so sounds like you get music videos, but no whole shows, just previews and clips.
  11. powaking macrumors 6502


    Jul 3, 2008
    I have an original Roku and have never had a problem. Connects to my Asus router just fine. I am thinking of upgrading as the lack of memory is keeping me from adding more channels (and the inability to do a global search between Netflix/Amazon and other channels). Although I have been giving the :apple:TV a consideration as we all have iOS devices and being able to do mirroring (not just for streaming but game playing with the kids) is intriguing.
  12. LorenK macrumors 6502

    Dec 26, 2007
    I always wonder why people bother with these devices. I have my Mac Pro connected directly to my receiver, so I just switch input devices and I see my desktop on the screen and watch whatever movies I want through VLC or use Safari to watch online content. I also have a PlayStation 3 through which I want NetFlix and other online content. I realize that there is a cost difference between these little devices and my Mac Pro, but as I have the computer in my family room anyway makes more sense to direct connect.
  13. sparrky macrumors 6502a


    Oct 23, 2008
    With the Plex channel you can stream media from your computer on Roku. But you don't have to be playing it on your computer, you just put it in a Plex folder and it's available at any time (also plays on your iDevices from any location). I use Plex more than any other channel. I love that it automatically puts all the metadata on your videos for you, including artwork, episode/movie description, theme music, and background artwork. It's pretty impressive. :cool:
  14. dgalvan123 macrumors 6502a

    Feb 16, 2008
    This was probably an AirPort problem, not a Roku problem. Which means you will probably have the same problem when you set up an Apple TV.

    My brother-in-law had an Apple TV that we couldn't get to see his AirPort wifi. I had to reboot the AirPort and then it worked fine. My Aunt couldn't get her new Samsung SmartTV to see her AirPort wifi either. . . until we rebooted the AirPort and it worked fine. Don't know what it is about Apple AirPorts, but in my (admittedly limited) experience they appear to require reboots more often than other routers. (I use a 6 year old D-Link router and have never had to reboot it to get devices to detect the wifi.)

    This is exactly the same way it works with an Apple TV.

    You have to enter the login and password info for Netflix (and YouTube, Hulu, etc.)on the Apple TV itself. You can't do the setup on your mac.

    The best you can do when you set up a new Apple TV, is to set up HomeSharing (enter the HomeShare name and password on your Apple TV using the four arrows on the remote), and THEN you can use the Remote App on your iphone or iPad to enter all your subsequent passwords. Or, you could use a bluetooth keyboard, which I suppose is an advantage of Apple TV over Roku.
  15. dugbug macrumors 65816


    Aug 23, 2008
    Somewhere in Florida
    wait till you have kids.
  16. Jazwire macrumors 6502a


    Jun 20, 2009
    This ^
  17. E.Lizardo macrumors 68000

    May 28, 2008
    You answered your own question.Many(most?)people don't have their computer next to their TV.Though lots do use a mac mini but it's a bit more than $99.
  18. marzer macrumors 65816


    Nov 14, 2009
    Whole home integration, common and intuitive interface from room to room. Easy to operate by the wife and kids. And inexpensive to expand, try adding a Mac Pro to every HT setup in the house :p One Mac mini, however, takes care of them all.
  19. troy14 macrumors 6502a

    Mar 25, 2008
    Las Vegas (Summerlin), NV
    I have a jailbroken Apple TV 2 running Plex, and a Mac Mini running Plex server (2011 model) with all of my content on a 3tb external via fw800. It's an awesome setup for my T.V in my room.

    I wanted to watch T.V in our living room and put movies / tv shows on for my parents on our 55''. I went and bought a Roku 3.... I think it's awesome.

    Setup was fine with my Airport Extreme 5th gen, connected to WiFi fine. Was a little surprised I had to have a Roku account - but I made one and no problems.

    Setting up Netflix I was indeed like "typing this kind of sucks using the arrows"...once I had entered my login information...that's the only time I'll ever have to do that. Took maybe 30 seconds extra. Boo hoo.

    Plex is a different interface and i'm sure not if I love it or hate it yet, but most importantly, it works just as good (if not better) than my Apple TV 2.

    The remote having a headphone jack is awesome too, in my opinion. People with more dedicated tv spots where it won't bother anyone I guess it wouldn't matter.

    The Roku 3 is very snappy as well, no lag between menus or channels.

    I'll be keeping mine.
  20. chumawumba macrumors 6502


    Aug 9, 2012
    Ask the NSA
    I own 4 Apple TVs and I just bought Roku 3 this monday.

    So far I have no problems with it, and I am currently using it over Apple TV.
    It's a great product.
  21. StinDaWg macrumors 6502

    Apr 5, 2012
    You can build a Windows pc for less than $200 that will do everything these boxes can and more. If you have some spare parts laying around, even better. That's the route I took and I'm completely satisfied. It can play anything and everything. I also use Firefox as a big screen web browser, both to watch videos and just browse the net.
  22. palmharbor macrumors 6502

    Jul 31, 2007

    I think what he was saying he was fed up, these units should not require
    a network engineer to set up. All they are is money machines for the sites
    that charge for the same programing available on Dish, Direct or Verizon FIOS,
    Its all pay for this pay for that.... you buy a unit so you can add to the revenue stream of these companies. Nothing is cheap and the quality is only fair...and the WIFI is frequently problematic at best.
  23. Plutonius macrumors 604


    Feb 22, 2003
    New Hampshire, USA
    I would have to say the Roku build quality is good although I'll agree with you that their WiFi is not the best.
  24. charliex5 macrumors regular

    Jun 27, 2008
    Seattle, WA
    So I've never used a Roku but I have an ATV which I think is great. Just wanted to address some of the things you posted about.

    1. Yeah, for some people this could certainly be a deal breaker.
    2. I haven't had any issues with Airplay mirroring. Neither have two of my friends who have ATVs. Strange.
    4. Not sure I understand what this means.
    5. Just turn the brightness all the way down or turn your computer around.
  25. E.Lizardo macrumors 68000

    May 28, 2008
    That's a good solution for those that want to go that route.But there's really no need to wonder why many don't.

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