Pros and Cons
Wide variety of content and versatility. You have a lot to choose from in terms of content. From classic movies to TV shows and even children’s programmes, there is something for everyone with Roku, especially with the possibility of adding your regular subscriptions.
The Roku Channel is free. Setting up a Roku account is free of charge, and so is The Roku Channel and all the content you get there. You can use the app to view it on your preferred device.
There is no monthly payment for Roku. With Roku devices, there is an upfront payment that you need to cover, but then if you do not choose to add any subscriptions, then you do not pay any more fees after that.
You still have to pay for the monthly subscriptions if you want them. Having the option to add subscriptions is a plus, but the fact that you still have to pay for them normally is less than ideal.
The free content available is limited. You do get free content with your account, which is great, but obviously, it is not too varied. You’re not exactly getting millions of blockbusters on The Roku Channel.
The free content is outdated. There are not too many blockbusters, and some of the titles are simply old. A lot of the content available is outdated or merely a little “tired”. Don’t expect the latest titles to show up here like they do on Netflix.
Genres and channels
One of Roku’s biggest advantages is the sheer volume and variety of channels it makes available for the user. Having started with just one channel when it first launched in 2008, Roku now ensures there are more than 3000 channels at your disposal. These include cable TV, network TV, streaming services like Hulu or Netflix, online platforms like YouTube, and even Roku’s very own Roku Channel that offers content for free.
The Roku Channel has a surprising variety of content available – from movies for the whole family to classic TV shows and sports or interior design shows. The categories are listed in a user-friendly way so you can easily scroll through and pick your favourites.
To be able to watch cable TV, you just need to login and you will automatically gain access to some of the apps and platforms that cable TV channels make available. For network TV, it’s necessary to have a subscription to the specific streaming service that makes content available from that network. You then download the app to Roku and log in as normal.
To add channels, all you have to do is go to Home Menu and then scroll until you get to Streaming Channels. There, you can press OK on your remote to select. This sends you directly to the Roku Channel Store where you can install your favourites. They’re even arranged according to their category – with examples including Recommended, Popular, Free, Movies & TV and so on.
Top Roku channel shows and movies
G.I. Jane – In the interest of gender integration in the military service, LT. Jordan O’Neill is enlisted in the US Navy’s elite SEAL program as a trainee. The program is brutal and everyone expects her to fail, but she is committed to succeed.
Batman Begins – After witnessing his parents’ death at the hand of a criminal in his childhood, Bruce Wayne trains with his mentor and steps into his role as Batman in order to fight crime in Gotham City.
The Dark Knight – Joker becomes the newest menacing evil that threatens the city of Gotham, so it is up to Batman to defeat him in order to once again ensure the safety of the people of Gotham.
Donnie Darko – In the wake of a weird accident, Donnie acquires an imaginary friend who he sees as a man in a bunny suit. The rabbit constantly appears to him, manipulating him into committing crimes.
Miracle on 34th Street – An old man claims to be Santa Claus, and as a result he is held at an institution and considered insane. However, a lawyer comes to his defense in court, and sets out to prove that he is the real Santa Claus.
Bewitched – A charming witch is married to an average man and frequently makes use of her magic in order to make things easy for herself – or more complicated.
Thomas and Friends – Thomas is a friendly tank engine who has daily adventures with all of his engine friends.
The Nanny – Fran is fired from her job selling cosmetics and left by her boyfriend . She then ends up being mistaken for the new nanny of the three children of Maxwell Sheffield. She ends up being adored by both children and father, as she eventually starts a romance with him.
The Terminator – A cyborg is sent to 1984 from 2029 to kill a woman whose son is going to save the world. A human soldier is sent to stop him and therefore save the future of the entire world.
I Dream of Jeannie – Astronaut Tony Nelson finds a mysterious bottle while he is on a mission on a desert island. It turns out to house a female genie called Jeannie, who pledges to serve Captain Nelson. She often creates more problems than she solves using her special powers.
The streaming library available with Roku is extremely easy to navigate, and you will already be familiar with the format, because it’s very similar to Netflix and every other streaming service out there. The content is arranged according to genre and other categories. You have the New This Month category, Continue Watching, Kids, Family, News, etc. This makes it easy to find what you’re looking for or narrow things down according to preference.
All you have to do is scroll through the library, find your preferred category, and then look for a title you are interested in. Alternatively, you can also search for your preferred title. If you click on the title card, you are given all the details about that particular program, including plot, run time, release date, ratings, etc. You can hit the purple Play button to start watching.
It is recommended to use your existing Roku account, as that enables you to continue watching where you left off, even if you’re switching devices. If you were watching on a laptop and you want to switch to your phone, you can do that seamlessly.
It is recommended that you benefit from 1.5 Mbps download speed as a minimum to be able to enjoy SD content, while HD requires 3.0 Mbps. Remember that you don’t benefit from the maximum download speed that is written in your contract, so you’ll want to perform an internet speed test in order to determine what your real download speed is and whether it’s enough for Roku to perform as intended.
Similar streaming services recommend between 0.5 Mbps to 12 Mbps to enjoy up to 3D quality. But what about 4K? You’ll be glad to know that Roku supports 4K streaming and in fact puts at your disposal the 4K Spotlight, which is a collection of content benefiting from the highest possible resolution your TV can handle.
Be aware of the fact that in order to watch your programmes in this type of amazing resolution, your broadband capability will need to be much higher. Some streaming services recommend between 15 Mbps and 25 Mbps, but that’s not nearly enough for a smooth viewing experience if you’re also using your internet connection on other devices.
Remember that if you do ever experience lagging, pauses, or a drop in quality while streaming on Roku, you should try to rebuffer. Otherwise, your internet connection is probably to blame.
At this point, you may be wondering what devices you can use to stream Roku and Roku Channel content. Thanks to the Roku app, you can enjoy your Roku content on any device. You just have to download the app and sign in and you immediately gain access to your entire library of content, regardless of location.
Here are the devices supported:
Customer support can be contacted on their website in case of issues. There is also a wealth of information available on the website in case users need to troubleshoot various aspects of the setup process. Under the Support tab, you can find Support Home, Before You Buy, How To: Using your Roku, Account, billing, and orders, Setup and troubleshooting, and Community. Each of these pages offers information you can use.
At this time, there are no free trials available for The Roku Channel. However, once you purchase a Roku device and activate it with your account, you do gain access to a limited amount of free content. As for the subscription services you can add through your Roku device, both Netflix and Amazon Prime Video have offers for 30 day free trials before you commit to paying the subscription.
Plans and pricing
Because of the unique way Roku works, there is no actual monthly charge or traditional plan. There is a one-time charge for the Roku device – £29.99, £39.99, or £49.99, depending on the one you pick – and you need to create an account in order to activate it. That grants you a limited amount of free content, including access to The Roku Channel.
You do need to add a payment method when creating your Roku account, which is meant to be used to purchase other content you may want. Once you’ve set up your Roku account, you can choose to pay for other content, including integrating other streaming services such as Netflix or Amazon Prime Video, which you will be charged for at their respective regular prices or offers.
Because Roku is not a traditional streaming service, but instead works to integrate these other streaming services in order to provide the user with more content, Roku is in a unique position in terms of competitors. You can consider products like the Amazon Fire Stick a competitor, as well as Prime Video, Netflix, Hulu, Disney+, etc. But these are also streaming services that can be integrated with Roku alongside its own streaming service – The Roku Channel.
Is Roku worth it?
All things considered, while Roku may not have started off as the most popular or up to date streaming service around, it’s rapidly picking up speed and popularity. Especially with streaming giants like Netflix losing steam and content with each passing day, Roku has a fighting chance of becoming a new favourite among streaming enthusiasts.
Not only does it offer its services for free or for an otherwise low fee, it benefits from all the advantages other popular streaming services offer, such as variety of content, incredible streaming quality (including 4K content), and a user-friendly signup process.
To remove your Roku device, you can simply unlink it from your account. This will not close your Roku account.
To close your Roku account, you need to access my.roku.com and sign into your account. If you scroll, you will notice a “My linked devices” section, where you can do a factory reset.
To cancel subscriptions, you can do that under Manage your subscriptions. You can also find more information on this action on the website.
To finalise the deactivation, select the option – Deactivate account.
Logging in is as easy as accessing the Roku website or app and filling in your email address and password.
There is no watch history on Roku, so the only thing you can do is remove the channel, thus removing evidence of having watched it. You just go to the Home screen and press Home. You find the channel you want, and select the * button on the remote. That will give you the option to remove it.
Once you have closed a Roku account, it cannot be reactivated. Anything linked to it will be gone, and you need to make a new account and start over.
If you made your purchase directly through the Roku website, they offer a 30 day money back guarantee.
The Amazon Fire Stick offers similar capabilities to some Roku products, or you can stick to the subscriptions you enjoy, circumventing Roku completely.
If you relocate, you will need to create a new Roku account that is set to that specific region. At this time, Roku is only available in a limited number of countries across North America, Europe, and Latin America.
Signing up for Roku is completely free and can easily be done on the website. You just have to complete the form with your details and your account will be ready to go.