This weekend I had the pleasure of viewing my first Roku box being used in someone’s home.  I have read several articles about the boxes, which plug into traditional TV sets and allow you to stream online content, such as Netflix, Hulu and hundreds of other television channels.  While most of the channels are free, paid subscriptions allow users to watch a greater variety of content.  The box costs only $50 and gives any television (with A/V inputs) the ability to be connected to the internet.  Some people are even using them as an alternative to paying for monthly cable.

Roku has emerged as one of the leading streaming boxes available, though many people anticipate the introduction of an actual Apple TV set next year.  However, nobody knows for sure what Apple will unveil several months from now.  Also, Apple’s products often enter the market at a price point that only early adopters will pay.  Roku gives the average consumer access to online content and streaming services at a very manageable price.

The one downside to Roku is its lack of many regular cable channels, such as ESPN or the Food Network.  Based on the channel selection, Roku seems to work best if you have Netflix or Hulu account, and if you watch a lot of news or specialty science channels.  Roku has mentioned that they are working on increasing the variety of cable channels that are accessible via streaming on the box.