If you’ve been shopping around for a new set-top box to watch your streaming content, then you have probably noticed that there are a ton of different options. We have previously written about a few of the reasons why you might want to go with a Roku 3 over an Apple TV, but even if you have decided that you want a Roku, the choice is not always clear.
Perhaps the most difficult choice to make between the Roku models is that of the Roku 2 XD versus the Roku 3. They have similar features, but one is newer, has more features, and costs a little bit more. So are the added features of the Roku 3 worth the price increase over the Roku 2 XD? Hopefully we can help you make that decision.
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Roku 2 XD
|Access to all Roku channels|
|Access to one-stop search|
|Will play 720p video|
|Instant replay option on remote|
|Will play 1080p video|
|Remote with headphone jack|
|Motion control for games|
|Wired ethernet port|
|iOS and Android app compatibility|
As you can see from the grid above, both of the Roku models have a lot of things in common, but the Roku 3 offers some features that the Roku 2 XD does not.
Some Roku 3 Advantages
Perhaps the most intriguing one is the remote with the headphone jack. At first glance this may seem completely unnecessary, but it is actually rather ingenious. If you are watching your Roku in a room where another person prefers silence, such as before you go to bed, then this feature allows you to listen to your roku content through headphones, without needing to employ a complicated setup on your television. Simply plug your headphones into the Roku remote and you’re good to go.
Another key area where the Roku 3 outclasses the Roku 2 XD is with the number of ports. You can connect your Roku 2 XD to a wireless network, but that’s it. The Roku 3 allows for wired Ethernet connections, and also offers a USB port that you can use to watch content stored on an external USB hard drive. Depending upon your media viewing needs, this is a very important thing.
One final key area where these products differ is with the dual-band wireless option of the Roku 3. This is going to make it much easier to connect to your existing wireless network, with the strongest possible connection. This will allow for much smoother viewing of your streaming HD content in locations where the Roku 2 XD might not be able to achieve as strong a signal.
Some Roku 2 XD Advantages
But the comparison of the Roku 3 vs. the Roku 2 XD is not a slam dunk, however. The Roku 3 only has the capabilities of connecting to a TV via an HDMI cable, which can be a deal-breaker for people that do not have HDMI-capable televisions. In that case, the Roku 2 XD would be the only option.
And, obviously, the Roku 2 XD is cheaper. If the Roku is not going to be factoring heavily into your TV viewing, then the price difference may be large enough to sway you towards the cheaper option. Plus, if you do not plan to use the headphone function, play any of the Roku games, or are placing the Roku in a location close to your wireless router, then you would probably not benefit from the upgrades that the Roku 3 has to offer.
For me, the Roku 3 is the clear choice. It is a fabulous piece of technology that can be found for less than 100 dollars. If you are seriously considering cutting your cable cord, then this is a must-have device. It provides access to so many different content sources, and in such an accessible way, that it could quickly become one of the most-used gadgets in your home.
Aside from the features discussed previously, the Roku 3 also features a faster processor than the older Roku models, which is going to make interaction with the various menus and features that much smoother. That is not to say that the Roku 2 XD system is sluggish; simply that the Roku 3 system is noticeably faster.
You can click any of the links below to view the product pages for either Roku model. We have also provided links to additional reviews and price comparison pages as well.
Note that you will also need to purchase an HDMI cable for either of these devices. These can be purchased directly from Amazon as well, for a very low price.
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.