questionswhat's better: roku lt or hd?

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Depends on the model number. There are newer models of both the LT and HD. I've also seen mention of a Roku 2 HD, which I guess is the newer one. None of them do 1080P HD, only 720P. This chart may help explain things:

http://support.roku.com/entries/20345913-product-comparison-all-roku-player-models

EDIT: I saw a Roku 2 XS, the top of the line, for around $69 yesterday at Sam's Club.

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@tbgolladay: (and JW) I appreciate the info on other deals, I am primarily interested in choosing between these two models, it doesn't seem like there is any information out there on how they differ other than having a different model (but same Mhz) processor. I'm also trying to keep myself limited to Amazon because I have some gift cards to spend after Christmas...

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@belowi: In that case, Amazon has the Roku 2 XS (new) for $75.87 with free super saver shipping and a $5 Amazon instant video promo credit when you activate it.

http://www.amazon.com/Roku-XS-1080p-Streaming-Player/dp/B005CLPP84/ref=sr_1_1?s=electronics&ie=UTF8&qid=1356641465&sr=1-1&keywords=roku

or a ROku 2 XD for $76.12 with the same shipping and video credit.

http://www.amazon.com/Roku-XD-Streaming-Player-1080p/dp/B005CLPP8E/ref=sr_1_4?s=electronics&ie=UTF8&qid=1356641465&sr=1-4&keywords=roku

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@tbgolladay: Thanks for the links! I am kind of drawn to the XS if only for the Ethernet connection, and it's not really that much more than their base models.

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@tbgolladay: Just pulled the trigger on the XS at Amazon. Roku sure doesn't make it easy with the huge number of models, and different versions of each model. For example, the Roku 2 XS offered at Amazon is a 3100R, but the Roku 2 XS that you had posted at TigerDirect is a 3100B, what's the difference? There is also a 3100AB flavor of the XS model, but that one is a bit less confusing as it stands for Angry Birds and features a different color scheme.

As far as my original question goes, even after looking at the Roku developer's guide and specs and reviews on various websites there seems to be little difference between the LT and HD versions except the processor, color and $10 price boost on the HD, none of which seem to affect the performance one way or the other.

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I bought an HD 1080p model from Woot last year and I just found out recently that it won't produce 5.1 surround sound with Netflix. Link to NetFlix Features. It works fine with Amazon Video but I have a free year membership with Netflix - arggg!

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The thread that @carl669 posted appears to contain the (clear as mud) answer to your question. They are basically the same except for the color, but the LT might be more limited in its future capacities, unless they issue a firmware upgrade. If they are the same price, get the HD, unless you really prefer the purple color.

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@djp519: I agree, that forum had helped me find the developer's guide, which I would take as a pretty reliable source of info on their model line up. I also agreed with a number of posters there about the failure of Roku's marketing team to come up with and present a clear and compelling reason to consumers for purchasing the HD over the LT, in all their comparison charts they appear to be identical in their capabilities. This could be intentional, they want to clear out the LT's without pointing out that their lifespan is going to be shorter since they may not be able to receive future upgrades.

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How do I setup 5.1 Surround Sound?

Roku Support
posted this on July 22, 2010 18:15
In order to take advantage of movies and TV shows in 5.1 surround sound, you must:
1. Have a TV or AV receiver capable of decoding Dolby Digital.
2. Connect your Roku player to your TV or AV receiver using HDMI or optical audio cables.
3. Have a broadband connection of at least 3.5 Mbps. (5.0 or greater is recommended for the best experience.)
If your setup meets these requirements, then, from the Roku home screen, select Settings > Audio mode > 5.1 surround sound.
Note: Currently, only Amazon Video On Demand streams in 5.1 surround sound. Programs that offer 5.1 surround sound can be identified by a "5.1" icon displayed near the parental guidance ratings on movie and TV show detail pages in the Amazon Video On Demand channel.
http://support.roku.com/entries/221264-how-do-i-setup-5-1-surround-sound