What does Western Digital have in response to the Roku 3?

I just got a Roku 3 to try out and I have to say that its performance blows away the WD streaming boxes. It’s waaaaaay more responsive, has a non-IR remote that doubles as a motion controller, and plays streaming video super fast.

The interface is pretty great too.

I’m not saying Roku 3 will replace my WD box, because their USB media handling isn’t very good, and streaming from a PC requires Plex software. But these are minor quibbles for some of our uses. That’s why we have two WD and two Rokus in our house.

When is WD coming out with something that isn’t dog slow and doesn’t have terrible response to the remote control like the Roku 3? We’re waiting with baited breath!

I also have WDs and Rokus; latest Roku is top-end Roku 2.  Both are media streamers and media players, although each one focuses on one mode better than the other, and why I also have the various units.

WD recently came out with their answer to the Roku – a low-end player called the TV Play.  Not many WD fans are impressed with this unit because it is and entry level product.

What the the WD “enthusiasts” are hoping for is a new high end WDTV that is gigabit throughout (with faster processor) accepts USB 3 drives, and is dual-band wireless.  It would be nice if it could rival the Roku in the selection of streaming media,.Although the Roku has a lot to choose from, 90% of it is dreck, so enough of that is plenty from anyone.

You do not need PLEX to stream to the Roku.  You ought to explore the new Twonky channel for Roku, and get the Twonky Beam app that works with Roku, WD, etc.  I prefer using it with the WD vs the Roku.  I wrote somewhat of a review of Twonky Beam app recently, and it is posted here:

Twonky Beam app is awesome for WDTV, Roku, etc. - Western

Differences between the new Roku 3 and the prvious top-end Roku 2 are;

-faster internals

-headphone jack on remote

-new UI (which will be backported to Roku 2 NLT May 20, 2013, as per Roku website, targeted April release though)

-dual-band wireless

That’s it. Literally. They didn’t give it any new features, such as support for network shares and the like. If you previously preferred Roku over WDTV or vice versa, Roku 3 won’t change your preference. It’s just a shinier, newer version of what was already out.

Don’t underestimate what a difference “faster internals” and a headphone jack on the remote can make.

Faster is an understatement, especially when you compare it to the WDTV. WD still certainly has a huge lead on playing video from USB, as the Roku USB channel is barebones to put it kindly.

Each has its strengths, but a week ago we’d have never considered getting another Roku over a new WD. Now it’s a much harder decision. If WD just came out with the exact same box they have now, but it was half as responsive as the Roku 3, I’d order two tomorrow.

By all means, if those features matter to you, then consider them. The faster internals is nice, but the roku 2 was already plenty fast and responsive. I own a Roku 2 HD, XS, and WDTV SMP. The SMP is by far the least responsive. Being slightly more responsive isn’t enough for me to make the switch back to esclusively Roku.

You can use USB on the Roku with more fleshed our features. Google “Roksbox.” It allows you to use the same moviesheets that we used with custom themes. However, it’s limited to the same codec limitations of the Roku, and HDDs must be 2TB or smaller (and not all 2TB HDDs work).

Bottom line is that the Roku 3 doesn’t offer anything tangible over the Roku 2. If you now think a Roku 3 is better than a WDTV…then you should have had a Roku 2 in the first place. They are for all intents and purposes, the same thing. Now, if Roku eventually uses that extra horsepower and gives the Roku 3 some exclusive apps (like the upgraded Netflix webapp), or proper Youtube support, then we’re talking a different ballgame.

The (Wi-Fi Direct) headphone jack on the Roku 3 remote is a terrific idea – expect all kinds of products to copy that idea.  A faster processor is always nice, but in today’s world, Roku 2 is plenty fast enough. Great, they have made Roku 3 receive dual-band wireless.  Maybe Roku finally could have added a YouTube channel.  Good grief, what’s the hold up/problem with adding YouTube?  (No problem now, free Twonky Beam app solved that problem.)

All this does not make me want to replace my Roku 2 XS with a new 3, mainly because they removed a feature I use!  The only audio output on the 3 is HDMI, and the analog A/V output is gone.  Guess what Roku, some people actually use BOTH outputs.  I use the analog audio of both my Roku and WDTV to input into the stereo, (via a switch box) so I can dial in an audio signal (e.g. TuneIn Radio, Slacker, music from my WDTV HDD, etc) to listen and be able to turn off the TV!  Really, tell me why the TV needs to be on for this scenerio?  Once I find what I want to play and get it going, off goes the TV.

Who knows, now that the 3 is out, the Roku 2 XS might be found for a terrific price and I can get a “spare”. It is not even for sale at the Roku site anymore.  If someone wants a good deal on a top end Roku, get the XS model at a blow-out price.

Hmmm . . . .For example, here you go: $20 rebate (making it $20 less than the Roku 3)  with free shipping/no tax from top-notch seller J&R:   http://www.jr.com/roku/pe/ROK_3100R/  Hurry, sale ends soon!

Pretty much the same price as the new (and low-level) WDTV Play.  a no brainer – get the Roku 2 XS; not the WDTV Play. Nor the next lower Roku “XD” model.

If interested, here is CNET’s review of the Roku 3:  

Roku 3 Review - Watch CNET’s Video Review

The issue of Roku still not having YouTube is addressed in review, and the response is as vague as ever from Roku.  Bet it has to do with MONEY!  There was once a YouTube custom channel for Roku, but they took it down.  Fortunately, they let us who had it installed keep it. It works fine; it’s 1080p, etc. – it’s not about the technology; it really must be about the money issue between Roku and YouTube.)