Roku Device Features, Settings & Updates

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ag87
Level 7

Newer models - any drawbacks/regressions?

Hi,

I haven't posted to this forum before, so I apologize if I make any mistakes in posting or this question has been answered before somewhere (in which case, please point me to the thread, thanks).

I'd like to know if there are any drawbacks/regressions (particularly in the interface or compatibility) with the newer roku's.

To clarify, I currently have a roku 2XD and am really happy with it.  I want a second one for another room and I'd be getting a newer model.  However, I've unfortunately had to become VERY careful to research newer products and software versions before going ahead with them because all too often they have bad designs or surprising regressions from older products, particularly in the UI; I've been very unhappy with some previous purchases that had such problems (a Sony blu ray player that shuts itself off and forgets where you are if you pause more than a very few minutes, with no way to configure not doing so; newer "upgraded" (more like "downgraded") software versions with slow, bloated, ugly interfaces; even a microwave that beeps until you take the food out and has other weird intentional design annoyances; etc.).  So I want to be very careful to avoid that sort of bad design stuff.  To that end, I want to find out what is different in the newer models vs. my 2XD that I'm very happy with, particularly in incompatibilities with my TV or network router, software ("apps" or whatever) compatibility issues, and UI "improvements" that may actually be more like regressions.

So my specific questions:
- Are there any differences in the compatibility or UI of the newer ones that are potentially problems?  I know this is a very broad question and a matter of opinion, but if anything is somewhat obvious, please let me know.
- My TV is a bit older, a Samsung that is around I think 2009 or so.  It takes whatever the HDMI standard was at that time (I have no idea if that is still the same standard or has changed).  Do the newer roku's support that?
- I have a router that uses the older wifi, 2.4GHz (because I have some older devices to support).  Do the newer roku's support that?
- Are there compatibility problems or restrictions with any of the software programs? ("apps" or whatever they are being called)  I am getting this largely to allow using software that Sony refuses to include on their blu ray/streaming combination player (plus the Amazon video software no longer works well on that machine).  That same software works on my existing roku 2XD.  So if there are compatibility problems with those, that would be a big problem.  In other words, I want to make sure the newer versions have no restrictions on what is working on my 2XD.
- I do not want to have to deal with any additional, unexpected requirements, such as using a computer with a particular OS to set something up, etc..  I know this is unlikely, but I've been encountering such wildly bizarre things on recent products that I have to ask (last year I helped my father try to set up a simple device for measuring walking distance - it wouldn't work because for some absolutely crazy reason he had to plug it into his computer or cell phone and it didn't like his older OS version on either one; he was, quite correctly, very angry and returned it).  So is there anything like this?
- If I register a second roku on my account, I assume it won't change anything about my existing one, correct? (try to replace the info about my existing one with the newer model or something of that sort)  I do not want for registering a second one to somehow break my existing one; again, I doubt that would happen, but I want to be sure.

Basically, I'm looking for warnings about any problems in the newer versions.  Please let me know if there's anything I need to know.  If they are great and work better than the older ones, then that's good news and I'll purchase one.

I guess that brings up one more related question: Is there a model that is about the same as the 2XD?  In some research a while back, I saw that you can now get a USB stick version of a roku and I seem to recall that it was the best price of the roku's (at least at the time), but I'd be a little worried the USB ports on my older Samsung TV (2009 or so) or Sony blu ray player (2015 or so) wouldn't be compatible.  I suppose it would also be nice to keep my options open for a physical ethernet cable (I may eventually run some cables into that room), but if that costs a lot more that isn't a requirement.

Any help would be appreciated - thanks

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3 Replies
DBDukes
Level 9

Re: Newer models - any drawbacks/regressions?

"ag87" wrote:
Hi,

I haven't posted to this forum before, so I apologize if I make any mistakes in posting or this question has been answered before somewhere (in which case, please point me to the thread, thanks).

I'd like to know if there are any drawbacks/regressions (particularly in the interface or compatibility) with the newer roku's.

To clarify, I currently have a roku 2XD and am really happy with it.  I want a second one for another room and I'd be getting a newer model.

Wow. That's an old device. However, if it works and you're satisfied, I'd suggest ignore the suggestions you may get to replace it. Unless, of course, your next Roku impresses you enough to spend money to replace a working device with a newer, faster device. I personally think the newer ones are noticeably faster, but if what you're using is good enough, don't spend the money.
"ag87" wrote:
However, I've unfortunately had to become VERY careful to research newer products and software versions before going ahead with them because all too often they have bad designs or surprising regressions from older products, particularly in the UI; I've been very unhappy with some previous purchases that had such problems (a Sony blu ray player that shuts itself off and forgets where you are if you pause more than a very few minutes, with no way to configure not doing so; newer "upgraded" (more like "downgraded") software versions with slow, bloated, ugly interfaces; even a microwave that beeps until you take the food out and has other weird intentional design annoyances; etc.).  So I want to be very careful to avoid that sort of bad design stuff.  To that end, I want to find out what is different in the newer models vs. my 2XD that I'm very happy with, particularly in incompatibilities with my TV or network router, software ("apps" or whatever) compatibility issues, and UI "improvements" that may actually be more like regressions.

You didn't say what software version you're running, but I thought the 3050 received the update to 9.0. Even if it didn't, you are running the newer interface. There are some features of 9.0 that 8.x, 7.x, and older don't support, but the way the interface works is basically the same.
"ag87" wrote:
So my specific questions:
- Are there any differences in the compatibility or UI of the newer ones that are potentially problems?  I know this is a very broad question and a matter of opinion, but if anything is somewhat obvious, please let me know.

Nope. The 3050 received the UI update some time back, around version 5.x, I think. There have been some rearrangment of items under the menu, but a user of any of the last few versions of the Roku software would have no trouble with 9.0 software.
"ag87" wrote:
- My TV is a bit older, a Samsung that is around I think 2009 or so.  It takes whatever the HDMI standard was at that time (I have no idea if that is still the same standard or has changed).  Do the newer roku's support that?

That shouldn't be a problem.
"ag87" wrote:
- I have a router that uses the older wifi, 2.4GHz (because I have some older devices to support).  Do the newer roku's support that?

Again, no problem. In fact, the Express only supports 2.4 GHz. The Sticks, Premiere, and Ultra models support both 2.4 GHz and 5 GHz.
"ag87" wrote:
- Are there compatibility problems or restrictions with any of the software programs? ("apps" or whatever they are being called)  I am getting this largely to allow using software that Sony refuses to include on their blu ray/streaming combination player (plus the Amazon video software no longer works well on that machine).  That same software works on my existing roku 2XD.  So if there are compatibility problems with those, that would be a big problem.  In other words, I want to make sure the newer versions have no restrictions on what is working on my 2XD.

Roku calls them channels, but apps is more accurate. You will not lose any apps, but you will get newer version of some apps. I think the Netflix app that runs on your device doesn't support profiles. The new devices do. There are other apps that will update, but not a lot. Things should continue to work.
"ag87" wrote:
- I do not want to have to deal with any additional, unexpected requirements, such as using a computer with a particular OS to set something up, etc..  I know this is unlikely, but I've been encountering such wildly bizarre things on recent products that I have to ask (last year I helped my father try to set up a simple device for measuring walking distance - it wouldn't work because for some absolutely crazy reason he had to plug it into his computer or cell phone and it didn't like his older OS version on either one; he was, quite correctly, very angry and returned it).  So is there anything like this?

Nope. You already have a Roku account set up, and will need a computer or mobile device -- something with a browser -- to register the new Roku, but you can run Windows, Mac, or Linux. If you use a mobile device, Android or iOS will work, using whatever browser you want.
"ag87" wrote:
- If I register a second roku on my account, I assume it won't change anything about my existing one, correct? (try to replace the info about my existing one with the newer model or something of that sort)  I do not want for registering a second one to somehow break my existing one; again, I doubt that would happen, but I want to be sure.

This won't happen. As Roku has always been, if you have multiple devices on a single account -- the way most users with multiple Roku devices do things -- they'll all have the same app lineup, with rare exceptions. Keep in mind that when you set up the new device, Roku will default a selection of apps to install as part of the process, but you can easily thwart that by looking at each page before you continue to the next. The apps are selected, and you can toggle the selections on or off, removing any suggestion they make, or adding any you hadn't thought about.

After setup, you can still use the Channel Store on the app or the Website to add more apps. Any app you add will be added to all your devices, and any app you remove will be removed from all devices. There are exceptions: apps that aren't physically supported on devices won't be installed. Some older devices won't run certain apps, and Roku simply won't install them if the app creator specified certain devices, and if the 3050 isn't one of the designated devices. Apart from that, the app lineup will be the same.

Oh, the layout isn't kept in sync. That is, it will install the same lineup, but not in the same order (except by coincidence).
"ag87" wrote:
Basically, I'm looking for warnings about any problems in the newer versions.  Please let me know if there's anything I need to know.  If they are great and work better than the older ones, then that's good news and I'll purchase one.

You shouldn't have any issue. Now, some people like the older version of some apps, and you didn't specify which apps you have, other than Amazon. If you have mobile versions of apps -- say on a smart phone or a table -- the current version that runs on Roku will work pretty much the same way, apart from the touch interface.
"ag87" wrote:
I guess that brings up one more related question: Is there a model that is about the same as the 2XD?  In some research a while back, I saw that you can now get a USB stick version of a roku and I seem to recall that it was the best price of the roku's (at least at the time), but I'd be a little worried the USB ports on my older Samsung TV (2009 or so) or Sony blu ray player (2015 or so) wouldn't be compatible.  I suppose it would also be nice to keep my options open for a physical ethernet cable (I may eventually run some cables into that room), but if that costs a lot more that isn't a requirement.

Any help would be appreciated - thanks

The Roku 2 XD and Roku 2 XS were practically the same device, apart from the remote that came in the box. In fact, the Roku 2 XS Bluetooth remote could be paired with the Roku 2 XD. For that reason, it means your device is essentially a Roku 2 XS with an IR remote.

The closest feature-comparable device is the Ultra. It has every feature of the Roku 2 XD and Roku 2 XS, with the difference being a much faster processor, more memory, more local storage, and a WiFi Direct remote instead of Bluetooth remote.

If you don't need the microSD card (for extra app storage) or the USB (for local content),
a Stick might be sufficient. A Premiere is also cheaper than the Ultra. But the Ultra is the best current device. It's priced same as the Roku 2 XS was ($99).
DBDukes
http://www.dbdukes.com/
Roku Ultra (4660)
Roku Premiere+ (3921)
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ag87
Level 7

Re: Newer models - any drawbacks/regressions?

Hi,

Thanks for your help, I really appreciate it. It sounds like a good idea to go ahead with purchasing a newer model based on these answers.

To respond to a few things you mentioned:

If I'm understanding correctly, it sounds like these are all using the same OS and therefore have the same UI unless the 2XD isn't able to use a higher OS version and therefore wasn't updated to it. I just checked my OS version, and it says I'm using 9.0.0, so the answer is that, yes, it was updated. This is good news; since I'm already using the newest OS version, then I'm apparently already using an UI that I'm happy with that will also be on the new models. So thanks, I think that answers that.

As for which apps I'm using, you make a very good point about some of the newer ones being problematic. For example, I'm using Netflix and I saw it on a fairly new machine that supports some of the newer UI "upgrades" they made, such as videos that start playing when you are still scrolling through the menu trying to pick the show you want to watch (absolutely terrible design, as it was very, very distracting and therefore made it very hard to think clearly when scrolling through the menus to choose a show). That was on my parents' Sony TV that has some built-in streaming software. Is there a way to tell the roku to use older versions of some of the software, such as Netflix? This probably won't change if I buy a newer model or not, but it would be very nice to know how to control that if it is possible to do so. When I experienced this problem on my parents' TV, I looked into it and found out that Netflix does have a way to turn off updates (although strangely you can't configure much else, such as turning off this dreadful behavior in the first place), so I did so to prevent it happening on my machines in case of an upcoming update to those, but if I'm installing to a new roku for the first time I'd have to somehow get the older version of Netflix on there in the first place.

Since you mentioned that I hadn't listed the specific apps I'm using, I'll list those:
(please let me know if you have any additional info based on this)
- Netflix
- Amazon video
- Amazon music
- Youtube
- Dailymotion
- Pandora

Regarding your point about if someone suggests I replace the existing one: I do not plan on replacing my existing one (unless maybe because I'm very pleased with the new one or something). I'm doing this research only in order to purchase a secondary roku for another room (and possibly also get another one as a gift for someone a few months down the road). So I definitely agree.

Yes, I suppose the 2XD is old in terms of the how quickly such devices are changed and such. Although to be honest, when I purchase a machine I expect it to last many, many years; anything that does not last is strong evidence of a bad company (thus, my 2XD gives me a good impression of this company so far and why I'm considering purchasing another of the same brand, and perhaps also another as a future gift for someone). And also I hesitate to replace anything these days because so many newer versions are designed so poorly - for example, as I mentioned earlier, I had to replace a microwave recently - a machine that obviously only requires a VERY simple UI - and the manufacturer (GE) somehow managed to totally mess up the UI even on that (with intentional "features", which are nothing but annoyances, very poor design choices).

Thanks again for your help
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DBDukes
Level 9

Re: Newer models - any drawbacks/regressions?

"ag87" wrote:
...
As for which apps I'm using, you make a very good point about some of the newer ones being problematic. For example, I'm using Netflix and I saw it on a fairly new machine that supports some of the newer UI "upgrades" they made, such as videos that start playing when you are still scrolling through the menu trying to pick the show you want to watch (absolutely terrible design, as it was very, very distracting and therefore made it very hard to think clearly when scrolling through the menus to choose a show). That was on my parents' Sony TV that has some built-in streaming software. Is there a way to tell the roku to use older versions of some of the software, such as Netflix?

You can’t stop app updates. You’ll get the “new & improved” interface for Netflix. I absolutely despise the auto start that it has. Someone may chime in and tell you that you can turn off auto play, but that doesn’t include the starting that happens when you open the app or move through the menus; it’s for next episodes. And that’s aggravating.
"ag87" wrote:
Since you mentioned that I hadn't listed the specific apps I'm using, I'll list those:
(please let me know if you have any additional info based on this)
- Netflix
- Amazon video
- Amazon music
- Youtube
- Dailymotion
- Pandora
...

I can’t speak to Dailymotion, but I think the app is slightly different, but it’s nothing major, based on memory of my understanding of others’ experiences. Same with Pandora. Slightly related, the newer devices support Spotify, if that matters.

Other than Netflix, which has been discussed, the other apps are pretty much the same. Keep in mind that some settings are at the app level, such asYouTube AutoPlay (which does work as you’d expect).

I really think you’ll like the new Roku. I think you’ll actually consider replacing the old device, but the Netflix auto start might be the deciding factor against that. Good luck.
DBDukes
http://www.dbdukes.com/
Roku Ultra (4660)
Roku Premiere+ (3921)
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