Roku 3 Review



Smart everything - that’s essentially where the direction the consumer electronics space is going towards at the moment. One particular area that’s been generating a lot of attention is streaming media – where our appetite for multimedia content has been insatiable. When it comes to adding the smart aspect to our television sets, the Roku 3 aims to be the undisputed king in the space. The latest model adds a new remote with voice search capabilities to deepen its arsenal, but will it be enough to make it more attractive than, say, the Apple TV or Google Nexus Player?

The package contains:

  • Roku 3
  • Enhanced remote
  • In-ear headphones
  • Two AA batteries
  • Power adapter
  • Quick start guide


Clearly, Apple and Google put in more effort into the designs of its streaming media boxes, which is made plainly more obvious after looking at the Roku 3. There’s certainly not a whole lot of thought put into its design, which is as plain and straightforward as they come. It’s compact in size, which is nice, but the glossy plastic squarish body doesn’t exude something that’s meticulously crafted like the Apple TV or Google Nexus Player.

In fact, the design is just a hairline better than your ordinary, dull looking cable box. Regardless of the tasteless design, it’s not really meant to be an overpowering presence in your media entertainment center – so its discrete appearance is okay.

Looking around the Roku 3, the majority of its ports are situated on the back of the unit – they include the power jack, HDMI port, 10/100 Ethernet port, and microSD card slot. The latter, along with the full-sized USB port on another side of the Roku, allow us to supplement its internal storage capacity and the ability to load multimedia content.


Included in the packaging is an enhanced remote that’s the primary means of interacting with the Roku 3. It’s simple and ordinary, offering us easy navigation using the navigational pad and various buttons. There are even dedicated buttons for specifics apps, such as Netflix, Hulu, Amazon, and Rdio. However, they can’t be mapped to launch other things – a shame, but totally understandable.

Rather than having a separate accessory, the remote also doubles as a gaming pad – you just simply use the remote in landscape. Better yet, its notable quality is its voice search function using the built-in mic. Pressing on the corresponding search button, we just speak a movie, actor, or actress for it to populate relevant content pertaining to our search. Quite frankly, it’s incredibly accurate and the search results are actually logical. And finally, the 3.5mm jack along its side, used in conjunction with the included in-ear headphones, provide us with a private experience – something that comes in handy when you’re in bed and don’t want to disturb anyone nearby.


It’s all about the streaming with the Roku 3, which impressively wins us over with its diversified selection of ‘channels’ and no hassle navigation. While the visuals aren’t as slick as its rivals, it makes it up with its peppy response. Like seriously, this things moves like how the wind flows through our hair during a windy day – it’s just that swift! From moving through the interface, to launching a ‘channel,’ everything is accompanied with a ton of snappiness.

More impressively, you have the three most popular streaming services – Netflix, Hulu, and Amazon Instant Video. Deepening its portfolio, too, are the various cable television network apps that solidifies its reputation for having such diversity. And it’s the only notable streaming box that offers live TV streaming if you happen to be a Time Warner Cable subscriber. You won’t find anything remotely close to what the Roku 3 delivers when it comes to the ecosystem.

In addition to the popular streaming services, the Roku 3 has its own movie/TV store where we can purchase content. From new releases to the classics, it’s yet another portal to think about if you’re really craving to see something in particular.

Roku app

There’s also a mobile app that works with the Roku 3, which is available for Android, iOS, and Windows Phone. Essentially, it’s a utility app that transforms your smartphone to the ultimate control center. For example, there’s a virtual remote that has all of the same functions as the standard, physical remote – though, we extremely adore how inputting searches is made easier using our phone’s on-screen keyboard, as opposed to using the navigational pad to select each letter individually with the remote.

Secondly, there’s an option to stream photos, videos, and music stored on our smartphone directly to the Roku 3 (think Chromecasting something). And just like the Chromecast, we can do things like search for videos with the YouTube app on our phone – and then proceed to stream it to the box.


Wireless or wired, it’s a matter of preference to what’s most ideal for you. In our case, we went with the hardwired Ethernet connection because it’s within close proximity to our router, but as an alternative, the wireless Wi-Fi route is there as well.


Both Apple TV and the Google Nexus Player might look more visually appealing, both in design and in how their respective interfaces are laid out, but the Roku 3 impresses us with its simple operation and the diversified selection of apps it has to offer. There’s just no comparison, as the Roku 3 caters to a wide range, not only for the expected services (think Netflix), but even additional ones that some folks wouldn’t be aware about.

Sure, there’s stiff competition around, but when you have a streaming box that delivers an outstanding experience, it’s undeniably just underrated in the face of what’s out there. Don’t underestimate this thing, it works really well and its top-notch performance is something worth bragging about. In all fairness, it doesn’t miss a beat – whether it’s loading a movie, or just moving through the interface.


Right there with the gang, the $100 cost of the Roku 3 is priced accordingly enough to make it a viable option if you’re looking to pick up a versatile streaming box. The entire package, we feel, favors function over form. While some take pride in design, it’s not really something that we feel as being an important quality for something that’s rarely going to be seen by people. At the core of it, though, the Roku 3 delivers meaningful experiences with one of deepest roster of streaming apps at its disposal – while also adding small features as well, like the private listening via the headphone jack. Apple, Sony, Microsoft, and Google, they all better watch out because the Roku 3 manages to hit the bullseye mark!

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  • Diversified apps selection
  • Incredibly responsive
  • Simple operation
  • Private experience using the headphone jack
  • Accurate results with voice search


  • Bland looking design
  • Relies on old school menu/list system
  • Weak gaming selection

PhoneArena Rating:


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