The Lazy Blogger

Hello Roku (and why I had to return my Apple TV)


By Sumit

I received my Roku HD box today yesterday. Funnily enough the packaging was ripped up by my 4 year old before I made it home from office, thankfully the contents were safe. It shipped from the Bay Area and arrived in Sac the next day thru standard shipping (USPS), so if you are in CA, I would say, don’t waste money on any other shipping option.


Well, the setup was a mixed bad. Not as easy as they make is sound specially if you are trying to set it up wirelessly. Some facts before I go ahead:

- I’ve a 6 Mbps DSL internet from ma-bell (aka AT&T)

- My home network is a type b using an E-Wire wireless router+modem box

- Firewall settings are default

- Security settings are default

- I’ve SSID broadcast enabled

- MAC filtering enabled.

The last part is what caused a little anxiety. Roku couldn’t get through to the internet while Mac filtering was enabled, even after I added the Mac address to the ‘permitted’ list. Then I saw a little ‘help text’ on my router’s setup page, suggesting that I turn off Mac filtering, connect the device that I want to add, and then turn it back on, once the device is connected. This automatically adds it to the permitted list. This little trick helped Roku connect to the net and there has been no looking back since then. So I would place the blame more on my router than on Roku, but all well that ends well. Netflix and Amazon VoD setup successfully, though it was ‘odd’ activating ‘channels’ by typing in activation codes on their website using the computer. Netflix streams just fine, haven’t tried Amazon yet.

Initial Impression

Roku serves two purposes for me,

1. Puts to good use a perfectly working Analog TV (a digital converter would cost approximately the same). I use the composite video cable that came with Roku.

2. Frees my Macbook up from being a dedicated Netflix player for my son.

It’s been up for only an hour so it’s too early to talk about reliability, but as of now it does what it claims to do for me.

Sound and picture quality on an SD TV are ‘broadcast like’ for the the cartoons my son watches.

Watch out for more updates as I discover more about this little box.

What’s Apple TV gotta do with it?

Well nothing directly, but I was basically foolish enough to purchase one without doing correct research. The new ‘hockey puck’ apple TV is of no good use to you unless you have a TV that has an HDMI port. Unfortunately, I realized that there was nothing like an HDMI to Component Video converter after I bought the Apple TV. The ones for PS or XBox won’t work because one-the HDMI port is not HDMIm (mini) as in the Apple TV and more importantly, HDMI needs to be decrypted in hardware, no ‘ordinary cable’ will be able to do that for you today. So bottom line, if you belong to the 0.05% of people in US who don’t have a TV with HDMI input, Apple TV is not for you, period.

Having iTunes streaming would have been good, but I can live with(out) it. Hope you read this and save yourself a 15% re-stocking fee.

Only Regret

Now that Roku is working perfectly my only regret is why I didn’t go for the top-of-line XD|S That would have given the additional option of playing from USB drives (among other things). Unfortunately, for once I was set back by negative comments on Roku and Amazon. In fact I progressively downgraded my purchase from XD|S with component cables to XD and finally settled for HD only.