By Ben Bowers
on 3.6.13
Photo by Roku

roku-3-gear-patrol

Ending the set-top-box Jenga being played above most tech-savvy households TVs today is a dream of ours that ranks slightly below other lofty aspirations, like 3D-printing Kate Upton. Given the game of content monopoly being waged by players like Amazon and Netflix and the ongoing ecosystem wars between Apple, Google and Microsoft, though, a do-it-all TV or box isn’t in the cards just yet. But the newly announced Roku 3 ($100) is as close of a consolation prize as we could hope for, armed on the hardware front with 1080p video output, an HDMI connection, dual-band wireless, Ethernet and USB ports, and a microSD slot for additional storage.

Like all of Roku’s offerings, it’s also got access to over 750 “channels” of content, including all of the key video players like HBO GO, Hulu, Netflix and Amazon Instant — with Youtube being one noticeable exception. The same thing goes for music via Pandora, Spotify and Vevo. There’s the same motion-controlled gaming launched with the Roku 2, and the new box even ships with Angry Birds Space. A revamped UI and beefed-up internal hardware make navigating this booming library easier and more life consuming prettier than ever. An enhanced remote with a new built-in headphone jack for privately listening to anything the purple puck can dish out is the sour cream on this coach potato’s dream (and huge boon for night owls with families in the house). For a single Benjamin, it’s easily the best bang-for-your-buck streaming device out there today (if AirPlay isn’t a must).

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