An Honest Review of Roku TVs: Strengths and Limitations
Should You Invest in a Roku TV? Find Out Here!
As a diehard fan of Google's products, I recently decided to dabble in the world of Roku TVs. This post will recount my journey of exploring the device, identifying its strengths, and pinpointing its shortcomings. Please note that this review is based on personal experience and not sponsored.
❌ Bluetooth Connectivity
Roku TVs offer a unique approach to Bluetooth connectivity. While the official Roku support page suggests that you can connect your devices via Bluetooth, it's actually using your phone's Bluetooth capabilities. This means your phone's battery life is drained as you use the TV. This seems counterintuitive, as why would watching time affect my phone's battery life?
Interestingly, the private listening feature doesn't function well when switching between sources, further limiting the Bluetooth capabilities. My workaround was to purchase a Bluetooth transmitter that supports two bluetooth devices. You can find a suitable product here.
Despite these limitations, I appreciate Roku's attempt to leverage Bluetooth for audio transmission across a local network. This could allow you to enjoy sound from your Bluetooth headset on TVs without built-in Bluetooth capabilities. However, only a few Roku products possess true Bluetooth capabilities to directly connect to your Bluetooth device. If you're curious about this, I recommend investigating the Roku Plus Series TV.
❌ WiFi WPS
The lack of WPS (Wi-Fi Protected Setup) is frustrating. Many modern devices come with WPS pre-installed, so the absence of this feature on Roku TVs is inconvenient. Unfortunately, I couldn't find a solution to this problem, which makes resetting the device a hassle.
HDMI-CEC, or Consumer Electronics Control, is a feature that allows devices to communicate using a single remote control. However, making HDMI-CEC "unidirectional" and hiding the option to change it from the user interface is a controversial design choice. To enable HDMI-CEC, follow these steps on your TV remote (in 5 seconds or less):
- Home x5, rewind, down, fast forward, down, rewind
- A screen titled "TV Secret Screen" will appear with a list of options
- Turn on CEC Remote Control
This method has been confirmed to work on TCL and Hisense Roku TVs.
Trouble finding the buttons?
✅ Google Assistant Integration
Despite adhering to official guidelines and employing various troubleshooting methods suggested across platforms such as Reddit, I encountered difficulties integrating Google Assistant with my Roku TV. Despite the assistant detecting the device, it failed to execute any commands, generating an error message stating "Something went wrong." This problem might originate from either Google or Roku.
Interestingly, two days prior to this article's publication, my Roku TV began functioning correctly without any apparent cause. Consequently, Google Home could successfully manage the Roku TV via the application. So let's consider this a win for now.
❌ Twitch App
Roku TV's software layout presents a refreshing and lightweight experience compared to competitors. However, installing Twitch on Roku TV proved challenging. Most of my usual apps were present, except for Twitch. To use Twitch on Roku, you'll need to use an unofficial app called "TWOKU," which requires trust in the app's developers. More information can be found here.
In conclusion, while the Roku OS offers a unique take on TV experiences, particularly with its software layout, there are several aspects that may not align with expectations. The lack of Wi-Fi Protected Setup (WPS) and the unconventional use of Bluetooth connectivity through a phone's capabilities are notable drawbacks. Additionally, the integration of Google Assistant has been inconsistent, and the Twitch app is not readily available on Roku TVs, requiring an unofficial workaround.
Despite these challenges, Roku TVs still have their merits, such as HDMI-CEC functionality and the ability to simulate live TV through a series of video playlists. However, the overall experience does not seem to integrate seamlessly with the broader Google Nest ecosystem, nor does it allow casting from some Android apps within the Roku system.
I hope this review has provided you with valuable insights into the Roku experience. Stay tuned for another round of explorations and updates on technology and beyond. I look forward to engaging with you again in two weeks. See ya! 👋🏻