The newest firmware for the Roku 2 has just been released, version 4.1, build 2663. Last time we looked at the Roku 2 XS in depth, we had some reservations. We just spent some time using the new firmware and it solves most of the issues previously found. The issue where the picture looked too dark has been solved. The picture was crisp and clear during dark scenes on our Samsung LCD. The unit also boots faster. It now only takes about 1:15 versus the previous 2 minutes plus. Also, issues around Netflix subtitles and wireless performance have been addressed. The complete set of release notes can be found here.
The fixes put the Roku 2 XS at the top of the heap of Netflix players. The only thing that is inconvenient is that you need to select the Dolby Digital soundtrack by going into the Audio and Subtitles menu for each title. Remember, you need an a receiver with HDMI and Dolby Digital Plus support to take advantage of surround sound from the Roku 2.
This release also enables the hooks for HBO GO. It will be the first streaming box to offer HBO GO in HD. According to Roku, the channel should be released by the end of the month on all Roku devices. With this set of fixes, the Roku 2 XS (and XD) joins our list of recommended devices. For $99, it’s an excellent value given the selection of streaming services on the box. It can stream Netflix in 1080P and offers Dolby Digital Plus surround sound. In addition, it’s one of the few boxes that offers Amazon Instant Video and Prime with HD and surround sound. Sounds like a no-brainer for Christmas for the audio and videophile in your life.
|Roku 2 XS|
First Look at HBO GO on the Roku