Getting rid of that high, monthly cable bill by cancelling your expensive cable package was the easy part.
Now you have to decide how you’re going replace it. And while there are a handful of distinct streaming media devices that have plenty to offer, today we’re going to be focused on two that are destined to be eternally framed as mortal enemies on discussion boards: the Roku and the Boxee TV.
FlashRouters proudly offers both streaming media player options to go with our excellent collection of high-performance routers for the best quality HD streaming. Each of these popular streaming media players offers tremendous features, some of which their competitor lacks.
That said, since most people won’t be covering all of their bases by shelling out money for both, it’s worth doing a side-by-side comparison, listing the benefits and downsides of each popular streaming media player. Ultimately, which features matter most to you will determine which one streaming media player you should choose.
Boxee TV Media Player
(We no longer offer the Boxee TV Media Player but they will still work with our Flashrouters)
For those unfamiliar with either the Boxee TV or the Roku, let’s get you up to speed, starting with Boxee TV.
Boxee TV is a popular streaming media player with many unique features such as live television options, 1080p HDTV compatibility, and the ability to allow you to take personal files from your hard drive or home network and put them on your HDTV.
You can stream movies and television from usual suspects like Netflix, Vudu, Vimeo, or Crackle, as well as popular anime channels like Crunchyroll. There’s also plenty of internet radio station and music streaming options such as Pandora and Spotify, all of them available to enjoy right on your TV.
Most impressively, for a minimal subscription, Boxee TV offers unlimited DVR, which allows you to record as much as you want and have it available on any screen in your house or elsewhere. The Boxee TV also includes an antenna to catch those over-the-air network channels with excellent clarity as well as 2 USB ports to integrate external downloaded videos and photos with ease!
In short, Boxee TV allows you an impressive range of compatibility to stream your content on any device in your home: HDTV, computer, smartphone or tablet.
Similarly, Roku offers much in the way of HD streaming movies and television. Netflix, Vudu, Hulu Plus, and Amazon Instant Video are just a few of the prime streaming Roku channels that are available, in addition to a plethora of internet radio options.
In addition, the High-end incarnation of the Roku, the Roku 2 XS, comes equipped with an Ethernet and a USB port, making it much more compatible and easy to use.
The Roku 2 XS USB port is for adding external media such as photos and videos to stream from the Roku. The Ethernet option allows you to grab a more consistent wired Internet signal for stabilizing the content you are streaming and avoid the dreaded buffering. Ethernet is recommended if you router will not be in close proximity to your TV. And on top of that, the Roku 2 XS includes the option of an Angry Birds channel.
Roku Vs. Boxee TV
So far, we’ll admit it; they sound pretty similar. Both are streaming media set-top boxes designed to allow you to watch HD movies on Vudu and Netflix, stream internet radio, and generally replace your costly cable package (they both end with a strong vowel sound too, but that’s neither here nor there). Now it’s time to get into differences…
The Benefits of Boxee TV Over Roku
Let’s start here: You have access to different internet apps with your Boxee TV. Most notably, Boxee has a Youtube channel. And thanks to the antenna that comes with your Boxee TV, you’ll have access to major over-the-air television networks (Fox, NBC, CBS, ABC, Telemundo) in HD!
As we mentioned above, you can also use your Boxee to check out your personal media files from your hard drive or elsewhere on your HDTV system as well as through the 2 included USB ports (the Roku 2 XS only has one).
Lastly, and perhaps most importantly to some, Boxee TV allows you to DVR as much as you’d like. Using their cloud-based technology, you can reap the benefits of your unlimited DVR on any screen within your network.
The Benefits of Roku Over Boxee TV
Over at The Wirecutter, they ran a little survey by some like-minded websites, comparing most streaming media devices. The consensus seems to be this: for your average streaming media viewer, for low price, for constant, consistent improvements, and for general ease-of-use, the Roku runs the table.
But maybe you don’t like picking the device that’s the most average-user-friendly. So what else can the Roku offer?
Well, it’s cheaper, for one thing. Only the top model of Roku (the Roku 2 XS) compares in price to your average Boxee. You can get an lower-end model of Roku 2 model for half the price (such as the Roku 2 HD and the Roku 2 XD), and all you’d be sacrificing is a higher level of HD and/or a USB/Ethernet port.
The Roku is also smaller than the Boxee TV, which may not be a big issue for many, but those of us in less-than-spacious apartments certainly have that to consider.
Then there’s this: Rokus offer Hulu and Amazon Instant Video; Boxee’s do not (check out this POPSCI article if you’re curious about why that is). If you’re subscribed to either of those, that’s a big deal, possibly even a deal breaker.
There are over 400 Roku channels with more being added all the time. Installation and usage are simple. And just about every streaming service you’d want on your television is available as a Roku channel. There’s also the handy “Netflix”, “Pandora”, and “Crackle” buttons available on certain Roku remotes to consider.
Lastly, of course, Roku 2 XS offers the ability to use its remote to play Angry Birds, which you can enjoy all the more thanks to Roku’s new motion-controlled remote.
So for the purposes of minimizing difficulties with your streaming media device, the Roku is hard to beat.
The choice is ultimately yours. Your specific tastes and needs will dictate which one is the player for you. Personally speaking, this writer utilizes a Roku box, but that’s because Hulu Plus is among the many Roku channels, which keeps me up on Criterion Collection film releases, The Daily Show, The Colbert Report, and NBC’s Thursday night comedy sitcom lineup. That’s as complicated as my preferences get, but the general consensus around the office is that the Roku is the winner. Should any of us change our minds, then this is the place we’ll go.
Have a dog in this fight or another Streaming Media Player you prefer? We’d love to hear about it in our comments down below!