Ratings in depth





For those looking to ditch their cable boxes, Roku 3 is the current gold standard in streaming media boxes. That doesn't mean it's a perfect device, nor does it mean that it does everything that its competitors do. Rather, it's the box that currently does the best job of delivering the widest array of video streams with the least hassle.

Roku is the exception among its primary competitors in that it is not subtly selling its own content platform. It's in Apple's interest for your to buy content on iTunes, just as it's in Google, Amazon, Microsoft and Sony's interest for you to buy from their services. Not caring about the promotion or survival of any given channel has liberated Roku to create a more egalitarian box, and Roku's offerings are some of the most open on the market, boasting more than 1,000 possible channels, including Aereo, and adds more every week. It also gives users the ability to customize the layout of their channels, something not all boxes allow. Bear in mind that most of these channels are obscure or extremely specific (Depressing Prospects Films, Life Without Limbs TV), but it's nice to know that if a streaming channel exists, you can probably get it on Roku.

The Roku does have its share of extras, such as games, social media and other options. Its games selection is limited and its Facebook implementation is laughable, but the interface does a good job of hiding them where they won't get in your way. Most users aren't buying this box for those features, and they do no harm, especially given the panoply of entertainment it provides. In terms of pure video content delivery, it's the most flexible streaming set top box going at the moment.