Will the new Roku 3 streaming box player give Apple TV a run for its money?

The Roku 3 streaming box player was released last Wednesday on Roku.com and Amazon (and will hit retail stores in April), and is the first update to the Roku streaming box player line since Roku 2 debuted in 2011. Fans of the brand, which has sold more than 5 million units since the original Roku was introduced in 2008, can expect features that will streamline and simplify their experience.

The most substantial update to the device is a central search interface. Past models allowed searches, but users had to skip from Netflix to Amazon to Vudu (and to all other apps in between) to find what they were looking for instead of searching the entire collection – a frustrating experience for those who want to find their favorite television programs or movies quickly. With the Roku 3, users can search in one location to access all the media available to them, a move that can save time and headache.

The Roku 3 has a faster processor and stronger Wi-Fi than previous versions, and includes another cool feature that might help the company distance itself from Apple’s Apple TV: a headphone jack. Users can plug ear buds (included with the device) or other types of headphones into a small jack on the remote control via the same Wi-Fi connection used to run the set-top box itself. When the headphones are inserted, the TV automatically mutes, keeping the noise to a minimum. The remote control also features a non-point usage, which means it doesn’t have to be pointed directly to the Infrared signal to operate – instead, the remote “talks” to the Roku 3 via Wi-Fi.

These features, plus existing access to major multimedia apps and more than 750 channels and a new, easy-to-use interface that lets users see more options at one time, make the Roku 3 a must-have streaming media player for movie-buffs and audiophiles alike. The Roku 3 will be available in stores like Best Buy and Costco in April, and will retail for $100.

Will these new features be enough for you to pick up a Roku 3?

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