I admit I’ve never been a big fan of so-called “Big Box” stores. These are the giant strip-mall type super-mega stores that sell everything from Pet food to Mattresses to Consumer Electronics. The main reason that I avoided these places was because I never felt I was allowed to “just browse” without being asked a dozen times “Can I help you find something”?
If a salesperson is knowledgeable about the merchandise they’re selling, it’s one thing, but especially with consumer electronics, I feel confident that I am more familiar with the stuff I’m browsing than whomever it is trying to sell it to me. In case you are one of those sales guys (or gals) who does know his stuff – I’m not talking about you. You know who I’m talking about and he probably works at your store, too.
Now, I’m not against good customer service, and I’m all for making sure that people are being greeted and served in a business. What I’m not a fan of is over-selling that feature. I once came up with the idea that stores like this should have a sticker that the first salesman puts on your shirt so that every other salesman sees you’ve been greeted.
I think that system would make everyone happy. The store knows that you’ve been greeted and you get left alone to browse. I’m looking at you Best Buy!
Speaking of Best Buy, that was the first place I was introduced to TV Boxes. It was some years ago in Austin. I’d read about these little streaming boxes that you could get to play Netflix, Youtube and others so I wanted to go and check them out before buying it. There were boxes from Western Digital and of course Apple, but I was there to check out the offerings from a then unknown vendor called Roku.
To my disappointment, the store didn’t have a single box connected to a monitor. They were nicely arranged on a shelf with the barest of specs and a plainly visible price tag. When the 6th person asked me if I had yet been helped, I took the plunge and asked my Big Box buddy salesman to give me a quick rundown on the Roku system.
He was surprisingly knowledgeable and gave me a thorough rundown. He could tell me what sort of codecs were supported, at what resolution and what sort of performance I could expect over my then DSL connection. His knowledge was rewarded with a sale. For me it was the introduction to a device that would catch my imagination and set me off in a new direction.
I’m just kidding. He didn’t know anything about it. I ended up buying something else and it was years later that I finally discovered just how great a product Roku makes. There aren’t many devices in this category you can define as “rock solid”, but Roku comes as close as anyone.
The Roku Streaming Stick debuted last fall and is doing incredibly well. It’s consistently among the top sellers on Amazon. It’s part of a family of devices that also includes some more expandable boxes. One of the reason Roku is so loved is because of the clean, organized interface and the access to a huge amount of video content. Amazon Instant Video, VUDU, Google Play, Netflix, Hulu, HBO and others are readily available.
Roku Streaming Stick
- Powerful quad-core processor and fast dual-band wireless.
- Access to Amazon, VUDU, Netflix, Hulu, Google Play, and more.
- Portable for different HDTVs in your home, hotel, and dorm rooms.
- Unbiased search results across top channels
- Comes with mobile app for iOS and Android with voice search and private listening.
- Power Consumption Operational: 3 Watt, Audio System: AV components
- Integrated dual-band 802.11 b/g/n Wi-Fi, Stream over 3000 entertainment channels
- Upscales 720p HD to 1080p Full HD
Two quick pieces of advice. If you want the best Wifi signal, get the HDMI extender cable for attaching it to your monitor. Also, if you have a USB port on your TV/Monitor, pic up Roku’s Mini USB extender cable to make for a clean and portable solution.
What Customers Say:
I usually avoid purchasing “new” products until I do my research and am confident the bugs have been worked out but thought I would take a chance with the
this $50 stick. Upon receipt, I plugged the stick into the HDMI port, did the install, and was surprised to see it worked great and provided smooth uninterrupted streaming of all the channels I tried.
It cut my cable bill down to 20 bucks a month signing up qith the Sling TV app. I get everything from CNN to Comedy central. And it’s in crystal clear HD. This was by far the best purchase I have ever made.
If you’ve never used a Roku before but decided that you wanted one the Stick is probably the best bet because it’s the least expensive.