We have reviewed the Roku devices before, and the last major hardware refresh (if you discount the MHL-equipped streaming stick) was the Roku 2 XS which we evaluated in detail back in September 2011. Engadget spied some FCC filings early last month, and to no one's surprise, the Roku 3 was officially launched yesterday at the $99 price point.

We could write multiple paragraphs about the new features touted by Roku in the new hardware, but felt it would be simpler to present the plus and minus points of the Roku 3 in a point-wise fashion:

Positives:

  • Faster CPU for a better user experience. Users are no longer bundled with the same SoC that is part of the Raspberry Pi. We are still looking into details of the new SoC, and have good reason to believe that it is Broadcom's.
  • Dual-band Wi-Fi support, enabling consumers to use the relatively interference-free 5 GHz band for wireless streaming
  • Miracast-capable internal hardware
  • Updated user interface to go with the increased number of channels
  • Innovative headphone jack in the remote to enable users to enjoy Roku channels without disturbing others in the room
  • Smaller physical dimensions compared to Roku 2

Areas to Improve:

  • Miracast support will only be available later this year
  • No official YouTube channel yet
  • Very basic local media streaming support
  • Pushes hard for credit card information to be on file before allowing usage of device

Roku was one of the first companies to come out with a streaming set top box for the general consumer and it has managed to move a large number of devices over the last few years, thanks to its pioneer status and marketing budget. However, the truth is that devices like the WDTV Live and WDTV Play from Western Digital provide all the major streaming channels and also integrate very good local media support at a similar / lower price point compared to the Roku boxes. At the lower end, I have also seen Netgear's streaming devices such as the NTV200 and the NeoTV Max 300 SL provide a large number of streaming channels. The latter also integrates a useful differentiating feature in the form of Wi-Di support. 

The Roku 3 refresh is interesting, but seems to lack any particularly exciting feature. What do readers think? Feel free to sound off in the comments.

Source: Roku

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  • db4williams - Friday, March 08, 2013 - link

    Why can't Roku get their act together and get an official YouTube channel? I mean it seems like EVERY other streaming device on the planet offers one. I find this odd and disconcerting. I have a Roku XD and like it but the missing YouTube channel is def a buzz kill. I figured Roku would have it by now. But I guess I was wrong. Reply
  • vision33r - Friday, March 22, 2013 - link

    If you don't know much about NAS and playing off network then go get Roku and buy the Plex app and have Roku stream content from your PC.

    If you have a NAS and want to play your content directly without a PC, then get the WDTV+ Live.

    If you don't know anything and just want to stream netflix then get the Apple TV 3. Probably the fastest Netflix app on any media streaming device.
    Reply
  • 500MM - Tuesday, March 26, 2013 - link

    Could you elaborate on the credit card requirement? That really turned me off the product which otherwise sounded very good. Reply

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