I bought the Roku for viewing Netflix because my smart TV does not have the Netflix app, and I also wanted to be able to shift it through to the TV in the kitchen where I watch a lot of TV shows when I do the dishes. So I am going to review the Netflix side of the device as I think for UK consumers this may be its main draw (as well as bbc iplayer) and I will mention the other apps separately.
Netflix on Roku - I think the video and sound quality when viewing Netflix is excellent (even on my 42" plasma). I have been using it for months and have also had no problem with audio sync, pixelation or freezing during video play back. This was reassuring when I was using it in my kitchen as my other wi-fi devices usually report a low wi-fi signal in that part of my house. A few niggles I have about the Netflix interface on Roku... I do not think that it allows you to browse the entire catalogue, obviously you can search for a show or movie if you know the name of it (I think in other Netflix interfaces you can search by actor but not here) and the main screen comes up with new additions and recommendations across all genres based on your preferences and previously viewed shows or movies, but I have a feeling that there are some things you could miss on the Netflix Roku app if you did not know it was there, and perhaps using the Netflix website (or mobile app) occasionally to browse by genre etc would be a good idea to keep you up to date with the content. The Roku does not seem to have a "Browse All" option for Genres so I have spotted some movies on the website that were not shown on the home page on Roku, they are there....you just have to search. Don't get me wrong though, most of the content you would want is available from the home screen. Also it would be nice if you could add subtitles instantly during play back like (for example) when watching Netflix on the Wii, however you seem to have to go back to the previous screen, select them, then resume playing, but as it starts exactly where you left off this is hardly a big issue. As with all other Netflix apps any show or movie starts were you last left it and this syncs across your Netflix account so you can start watching something on the Roku, pick it up on your laptop, whatch a bit more on your phone, and come back to the Roku and each time it will start from were you left it on the previous device. You can obviously also choose to start from the beginning. I have noticed with Netflix that when you first start watching something it takes about 10 seconds or less for the video quality to catch up to full quality, so do not be disheartened if the video quality looks poor as soon as the video starts. Overall I am extremely happy with watching Netflix on the Roku. It comes with an AV connector so you can watch it on an old CRT type TV too, but you do have to purchase a HDMI cable if you want to watch it this way. I also love the Roku remote which only has a few buttons, the pause and rewind buttons functioning similarly across all Roku channels. More of which below.
Other channels on Roku (available from the channel store option on the device home page) - Being from the UK the main other app I use is the iPlayer app, as I have this on my TV I do not use it as much but any time I have used it I have found the browser as well as video and audio playback to be flawless and some of the content is in HD, but to be honest the standard definition stuff looks great too! There are about 100 other channels available on the Roku, most of them are free though some are subscription based. Many of the channels available are from American sources, though they are loads of category specific things from cooking channels, news, religion, gadgets/tech, music, radio,games and other video on demand services such as Break.com (the best Break interface I have saw on a device) and Crackle. Oh and it also has Dog TV a channel purely for dogs. It would have been great to see Youtube on here but the channel is sadly unavailable (at least at the time of writing this review). Lovers of old and obscure movies will love some of the channels which brings tons of B movie horror, pulp movies and westerns available fo free (usually with an ad played before hand). The quality of these is terrible as they obviously have not been cleaned from their original source but this adds to the charm, and old movie lovers will have a field day going through the content available. I also liked the Facebook channel, it only shows the media content posted by yourself and others but if you have a lot of high quality pictures and videos on your (or others) Facebook accounts, this is a handy way to see them on a big screen. For more info on the available channels check out www.roku.com
Some points to note which may be an issue for some...
To use the Roku you will have to subscribe at their web site with payment details (was pleased to see Paypal accounts are accepted) this is so that they can charge you if you purchase any of the paid channels but they don't take any payments off you unless this happens, much like the same way you have payment details saved with google in case you buy paid android apps. At one point during the setup of the device a code appears, and you have to then visit the website and enter the code, so if you are setting up the device it would be handy to have the internet to hand.
Also it only connects to the web via wi-fi, it has no Ethernet port so you will have to be sure your TV (or at least the places your Roku will sit) is within range of your wi-fi router. It also has no feature for reading video files direct from the device (such as from USB or SD) so if you already have a device for this, then you will have to keep it and the Roku and use both as required.
It does not allow you (as a standard feature) to stream media from your computer, I have heard some people buy it who think this is a feature. However (and maybe this is what Roku were referring to) one of the additional channels available is called Plex and allows you to setup your PC as a media server to stream videos to the Roku and also Plex apps on Android etc. I have never used this but it gets mixed reviews.
To summarise I think the Roku is an awesome product and I have no regrets, but you should be fully aware of the content and functionality before making your purchase especially if there is a particular channel you plan to mostly use and you should not assume that any content you can access on the web is going to be available here. It looks good in its purple and black finish and it is tiny, around the size of a cigarette pack. I was also pleased to see that the Roku came first in the Cnet Prizefight against Apple TV (check it out at [...]).
Feel free to ask me any questions you might have.