Set-top streaming boxes are simple devices that you plug into your TV then connect to the Internet so that you can stream video from various services like Netflix, Hulu Plus, Amazon Instant, Vudu and many others. The set-top streaming box market is becoming larger everyday, due mainly to the excellence of the products offered by Roku.
Roku is a leader in this market, but they have several different models and it isn’t always easy to decide which one is right for you. The Roku HD and the Roku XD are two options you might be considering, so read our comparison below to see which one is best for you.
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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|
|Composite video option|
As is indicated by the chart above, the Roku XD has one feature that the Roku HD does not, so read on below for a little explanation of what that means.
Some Roku XD Advantages
The numbers 1080p and 720p refer to the pixel density and, thus, the resolution of the video that you are watching. 1080p content has more pixels in it than does 720p content, so it will look richer and more vibrant than a content with a lower resolution. Note that 1080p and 720p are both still HD resolutions, however, and will look good on any television that is capable of displaying them.
The only notable difference between the XD and the HD is that the XD has the option for 1080p video content. If the channels and subscriptions that you watch will actually output 1080p content, or if you intend to stream 1080p content over your network via an app like Plex, then this is a very worthwhile feature. Additionally, if you are able to tell the difference between 1080p and 720p content (not everyone can) then the improved resolution is likely important to you.
Some Roku HD Advantages
The biggest strength of the Roku HD is its’ price. Typically the HD can be found for about $20 less than the XD, which is a significant difference at this price point. If you are only intending to put the Roku HD in a spare bedroom, or if it will not be a focal point of your entertainment center, then I see little reason to upgrade to the XD to gain the option for 1080p content.
Aside from the difference in available video resolution, both of these devices are practically identical. They have the same processor, the same menus (after installing the available Roku update), the same video connections, and they even look the same.
Both of these devices have the same ports and video connection options, which will allow you to connect to either a TV with an HDMI port or one that has a composite connection (the one with the red, white and yellow cables). Both devices can only connect to your network via a wireless connection, and both devices perform similarly, as they are running the same software with the same processor.
These two devices are very, very similar, so the choice will mainly come down to how much you value 1080p content. Most people will not notice the difference between 720p and 1080p content, and many of the streaming services only stream content in 720p. For this reason, I think the Roku HD is the better choice, simply because it costs less money. However, if you can get the XD for almost the same price as the HD, then the option for 1080p content is certainly worth the upgrade.
If you are connecting either of these devices to an HDTV, then you will need an HDMI cable, as they are not included with the Roku. You can buy them from Amazon for much less than they cost in a retail store.
We have also written some other Roku comparison articles that you can check out below.
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.