Roku has been around for several years, but had previously existed in a market that had less of an audience. But as streaming services, broadband Internet and wireless home networks become more common, the Roku has started to make its’ way into more and more homes. Every Roku model can be purchased for less than $100, which is an attractive price point for people looking for a simple set-top streaming box solution for their home entertainment system. But there are several models of Rokus available, and the distinction between those models is not immediately obvious.
On a strictly feature-based comparison, the Roku 3 is the clear choice. But it is almost twice the price of the Roku HD (model 2500), and many of the features that the 3 offers over the HD model are not as important to some customers. If you have been contemplating purchasing a Roku and are deciding between these two models, then continue reading below to see if the benefits of the Roku 3 outweigh the low price of the Roku HD.
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|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|
Both Roku models, as indicated by the chart above, share many of the key features that the average Roku user is looking for. The Roku 3 is the newer device and is the top-of-the-line model, so it should be expected that its’ features will trump earlier generations. But if those added features don’t seem that important to you, or if you think the price increase doesn’t justify the additional benefit that it would provide to you, then continue reading below to help determine which model is best for you.
Some Roku 3 Advantages
The Roku 3 is a much newer device, and it has every feature that has ever been included on a Roku model. It has a better wireless card than previous models, a faster processor, and a more streamlined navigation system. If you were to go into a store with all of the Roku models lined up next to each other and test them out one after the other, then you would notice that the Roku 3 just performs at a much higher level than its’ older brothers.
The improved speed and performance of the Roku 3 are a given, but another feature that I mentioned briefly was the improved wireless performance. This is less of a concern if you plan to use the Roku 3 in a location that gets a strong wireless signal or if you intend to use a wired connection, but people that want to use the Roku 3 in a location that is far from a wireless router will experience a much better connection that they would with the Roku HD.
The Roku 3 also has a headphone jack on the side of the remote control, which may initially appear to be a gimmicky feature. However, it has some real benefits for people that want to use the Roku 3 in a room where someone might be sleeping or needs a quiet environment. When you plug a pair of headphones into the remote control headphone jack, the audio on the TV is muted and redirected through the remote control. It’s pretty impressive when you first try it out, and is something that has some real benefit for people that need it.
Some Roku HD Advantages
The most important reason to consider the Roku HD instead of the Roku 3 is the lower price. At the time of this writing, there was a about a $40 difference between the two products, which is substantial when you consider the price point. And if this is something that you aren’t going to be using everyday, or if the Roku HD isn’t going to get a ton of use, then it may be difficult to justify going for the high-end Roku model.
One other important factor that will influence your decision is the type of TV to which you are connecting the Roku. The Roku 3 only offers an HDMI connection. So if you are planning to connect it to an older television that doesn’t have an HDMI port, then the Roku 3 will not work for you, which makes the Roku HD your best option. It has a composite connection (the one with the red, white and yellow cables) that makes it compatible with most tube TVs.
While many of the highlights of the Roku 3 focus on the performance improvements over the HD model, it is important to note that the HD still offers solid performance, and makes for an enjoyable user experience. The menus are still fast, videos start quickly and look great in HD output.
If you don’t have any other Roku models in your home and you plan to use it as a primary source of entertainment, then the added features and increased speed of the Roku 3 are well worth the additional money. It is a significant improvement over earlier models of the Roku, and its’ seamless playback and menu navigation make for a much more user-friendly experience.
But if you already have a Roku 3, Roku 2 XS or Roku 2 XD and are planning to put this Roku in a bedroom, basement or other location where it won’t be used as frequently, then the lower price of the Roku HD probably makes it the superior choice. But both of these set-top streaming boxes are excellent in their own rights, and you will be happy with whichever choice you make.
The links below will take you to the product pages for each of the Roku models discussed in this article, where you can check prices, read more reviews, and hopefully find any answers to questions that you might still have after your research.
Compare Roku 3 prices on Amazon
Read more reviews of the Roku 3 on Amazon
Roku HD price comparisons on Amazon
Reviews of the Roku HD on Amazon
Connecting your Roku to your TV is going to require an HDMI cable, which is not included with the Roku itself. Luckily you can also buy these at Amazon, and they are pretty cheap.
You can also read our comparison of the Roku 2 XD and the Roku 3, as well as our comparison of the Roku 3 and the Roku 2 XS.
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.