Bargain device holds up to competitors

No matter who you are, if you are looking for a way to stream video from the internet to your living room TV, Roku hopes to have you covered.

Long known for offering affordable, easy-to-use digital media players, it recently revamped its lineup, from the Express to the top-of-the-line $130 Ulta. The Express is not only the least-expensive box Roku has ever offered, it is also the lowest-priced digital streamer among all the major competitors.

It still offers most features the higher-priced ones offer, though. You have access to some 3,500 digital channels, including nearly all of the major streaming and download video services, many sports channels and the major news and cable networks.

The remote control Roku ships with the Express is more basic than the ones that come with its higher-priced boxes. But the box itself supports many of the same functions if you use Roku’s app instead of the Express’ remote control.

For example, the remotes that come with the Ultra and Roku’s $100 Premiere+ include a headphone jack, which allows you to listen via earphones, so you don’t disturb others in your house. But you can do the same thing with the Express by using Roku’s app and plugging in your earphones to your phone.

Besides the remote, the Roku has a slower processor, doesn’t support 4K or high dynamic range (HDR) video and only supports the older 2.4 GHz Wi-Fi standard, which tends to have a lot of interference.



Here’s a good puzzle to pass away the time

Gears Logic Puzzles for Android devices is a simple-but-challenging app that presents you with a set of gears — some of them fixed, some of them loose. What the player has to do is arrange the loose pieces in a way that gets all the gears spinning in the correct direction. Players can get some extra gears if they just can’t figure out how to make things work, although there are no such options in the game’s more difficult mode. This is not a flashy app, and not particularly well explained in some parts. Intuition has to guide you in learning how to play, as well as getting you through the puzzles. It is ad-supported, but the advertisements are not as intrusive as on some other apps.