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If you don't mind someone else having owned your Roku before you, so long as it's in perfect working condition, you can save up to 25% off refurbished Roku players. Click here to see what's available. At time of writing, you can get the Roku LT for $49.99.
The Roku line of network media players is decidedly the most well-known and successful on the market today. They're an incredibly simple and cost-effective way to add Internet streaming functionality to "dumb" TVs.
And in my (Brash's) view, you're better off buying a dumb TV and using a Roku for streaming than getting a TV for its "smart" capabilities. Roku makes...well, Rokus, so you're more likely to get comprehensive, specific support. A Roku is MADE expressly for streaming, so it features a very simple and easy-to-use interface. David Pogue of the New York Times said of the Roku, "This thing could not be simpler. I was watching my first movie six minutes after opening the box." Doesn't get much better than that. And you're spreading your entertainment investment out more...diversifying your portfolio, if you will. So if your TV bites the dust one day, well, you just get a new TV, and you're not out the half hundred or more dollars they charged you extra for integrated streaming.
All that and refurbs aside, there are four main Roku models on the market today - the Roku LT, Roku HD, Roku 2 XD, and Roku 2 XS. Not too descriptive...actually a little misleading, as the 'HD' model designation refers to 720p, not full 1080p as you'll find in both Roku 2 models.
All four current Roku models offer 500+ entertainment channels, built-in WiFi b/g/n compatibility (n preferred for HD streaming, of course), and will stream 720p resolution content from Netflix, Hulu Plus, and more. They've all got the connectivity to work with essentially any TV set - even a standard definition tube TV, so long as it has RCA jacks or a VCR to provide them.
The step-up Roku HD is differentiated from the entry-level LT by its RF (Bluetooth) capability, meaning you can put it in a container or hide it away and control it without line of sight. Also, you get an expandable memory slot for games like Angry Birds - but that's only necessary if you have a LOT of games. IMHO, that's not worth the upgrade (no hate to Angry Birds, of course).
Pay a Hamilton to a Jackson more and you'll get FULL HD 1080p capability with the Roku XD. All things considered, integrated Internet streaming functionality is more common on larger HDTVs, 32-inch sets are very common, and often are only 720p resolution, so you'll want to be sure you can take advantage of the higher resolution before springing for something you might not be able to appreciate on your set.
Finally, the top of the line Roku XS includes an enhanced RF remote with motion control (Angry Birds!), a free full edition of Angry Birds (Angry Birds!), as well as Ethernet and USB connectivity. While Wireless-N is plenty fast, a wired Ethernet connection still offers the best best for a quick buffer and reliable connection, although you shouldn't experience trouble with the integrated WiFi. The USB port could come in handy to stream from an external HDD or thumb drive, but chances are you'll use Netflix and Hulu Plus most of the time anyway.
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