In early April 2015, Roku updated some of their products. Two of the updated products include the Roku 2 and the Roku 3. The updated versions of these Rokus are identified as 4210R (the updated Roku 2 model) and 4230R (the updated Roku 3 model).
If you are shopping for a device to stream audio and video to your TV, then either of these devices is a great choice. But you are probably curious about the differences between the two models, as the Roku 2 has a significantly lower price tag than the Roku 3. Our comparison below will highlight the key differences between the two set-top boxes to help you decide if the differences in features between the Roku 2 and the Roku 3 are worth the added cost.
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|Access to all Roku channels|
|Access to Roku search|
|Will play 720p video|
|Will play 1080p video|
|Remote with headphone jack|
|Motion control for games|
|Wired ethernet port|
|iOS and Android app compatibility|
|RCA video outputs|
|Point anywhere remote control|
|Mirror content from smartphone or tablet|
Both the Roku 2 (4210R) and the Roku 3 (4230R) are using the same processor. This means that they will perform equally when navigating between menus and processing the video streams that you are downloading over the Internet. The previous version of the Roku 2 had a weaker processor than the previous version of the Roku 3, but this product update has placed them on equal footing.
The Roku 2 and the Roku 3 both also boast dual-band wireless capabilities, which means that there is also no difference in their ability to connect to the wireless network in your home. So when it comes to performing the core function of this type of device, which is to connect to the Internet to stream and play content, there is no significant difference between the Roku 2 and the Roku 3.
Your main source of interaction with your Roku device is going to be through the included remote control. Therefore, it is important to consider any downfalls or advantages that one device may have over another as a result of missing features.
The Roku 3 remote control is labeled as a “point anywhere remote”. Essentially you just need to be near the Roku 3 in order for it to register a button press that you make on the remote control. You do not need to aim the remote at the Roku 3. In fact, you can actively point it in the complete opposite direction of the Roku 3 and still manage to accomplish what you are trying to do. This fact also allows you to hide the Roku 3, either by attaching it to the back of your TV (view on Amazon), or hiding it away in a wall or TV stand.
The Roku 2 remote control is not a “point anywhere remote”, so does not offer this same luxury. It works the same way as most other IR remotes, in that you will need to have a line of sight to the device, and you will need to point the remote control at the Roku 2.
There are some other important features of the Roku 3 remote control that must be considered when comparing the two devices. The Roku 3 received fewer upgrades than the Roku 2 in the April 2015 refresh, but one new feature that it does have is voice search. Amazon has long championed voice search as a selling point of its’ similar Fire TV device, and the Roku 3 now offers a similar function. The voice search on the Roku 3 is simple and effective, and can be a useful feature for users that are looking for a simpler way to search on their Roku.
Since its’ initial release, the Roku 3 remote control has also offered a headphone jack in its’ remote control. Simply plug a pair of headphones into the jack and the Roku 3 audio will be muted on your TV and re-directed to your headphones. This is perfect when you want to watch something on the Roku, but someone else is in the room sleeping or working. The older version of the Roku 2 (the 2720R model), also had a headphone jack, but was removed with the update to the 4210R model.
One final feature of the Roku 3 remote control is its’ included motion control for games. There are games that you can download and play on your Roku device, and some of them work with the motion control features on the Roku 3 remote.
The Roku 2 (4210R) remote control does not have voice search, a headphone jack, or motion control capabilities.
Winner: Roku 3
Other Features Shared by Both Devices
Aside from the differences with the remote control, the Roku 2 (4210R) and the Roku 3 (4230R) are virtually identical devices. They both support 1080p video streaming, and both have access to Roku’s massive selection of content channels.
Both devices use the Roku Search feature, which allows you to search across multiple channels at once. This is great if you have multiple channels installed, such as Netflix, Hulu, Amazon Instant, and Vudu, and want to see which service offers a movie or TV show for the lowest price.
Both devices can be used via the Roku mobile app, and both devices offer some screen mirroring functionality with compatible phones and tablets.
Both devices include an ethernet port, a USB port, and a MicroSD slot. The USB port is especially useful if you have a portable USB hard drive or flash drive containing music, movies or pictures that you would like to view on your TV.
Notable Missing Features on Both Devices
Perhaps the biggest complaint that I have about the Roku 2 and the Roku 3 is that they both only offer an HDMI port to connect to your TV. If your TV does not have an HDMI port, then your only option to use one of these devices would be to get a converter, such as this one from Amazon. However, there are some issues that could arise with a converter like that, such as HDCP compliance. If your TV does not have an HDMI port, though, you would probably have better results by purchasing the Roku 1 (view on Amazon), which features both RCA and HDMI video output options.
One other possible problem to consider is the lack of compatibility with any content that you own on iTunes. You will not be able to play iTunes content on your Roku. And while the screen mirroring capabilities of the Roku 2 and the Roku 3 have some similarities to the AirPlay feature of the Apple TV (view on Amazon), it is not integrated as seamlessly with your Apple devices as the AirPlay feature is.
If you are thinking about purchasing a set-top streaming box to stream videos and music to your TV, then the Roku 2 and the Roku 3 are excellent choices. But the difference in price is significant enough that the lower-priced Roku 2 may be the right choice for a lot of people. If you do not think that you will use the voice search, motion control for gaming, or the headphone jack on the remote control, then the Roku 2 is likely the right choice for you. The fact that the two devices both use the same processor, and both have the same wireless capabilities, will likely make it difficult to justify the increased price of the Roku 3.
Matthew Burleigh has been writing tech tutorials since 2008. His writing has appeared on dozens of different websites and been read over 50 million times.
After receiving his Bachelor’s and Master’s degrees in Computer Science he spent several years working in IT management for small businesses. However, he now works full time writing content online and creating websites.
His main writing topics include iPhones, Microsoft Office, Google Apps, Android, and Photoshop, but he has also written about many other tech topics as well.