Sunday, February 13, 2011

Roku Repair

I had an odd problem with my Roku last week. After about 2 months of regular trouble-free use of the Roku in the theater, we turned it on one night to discover that it was only showing the left half of the screen. Troubleshooting via swapping cables and receiver inputs confirmed that it was the Roku itself that was at fault. My wife quipped that at least we could still watch half a movie. Changing the output settings form 1080p to widescreen (16:9) worked around the problem and we were able to watch the movie of our choice that evening.

A few days later I moved the unit out of the theater and connected it to our TV upstairs for further testing. The unit still failed, confirming that the fault was with the unit itself. On standard and widescreen settings the unit behaved correctly. But on 720p and 1080p settings only the left half of the screen was visible. The right half was simply blank. What was even more peculiar was that once I began viewing a movie I was able to see all of it. Only the computer screens and menus were failing.

I called Roku customer service to get an RMA number and send the unit in for warranty replacement. I really like the Roku and the technology it uses, but their customer service is enough to drive me insane. The customer service number is adequately staffed, but it is clear they have a script to run and nothing will dissuade them from doing so. As it says in the warranty statement: "Roku may attempt to troubleshoot a warranty-related problem prior to issuing an RMA number." This over-the-phone troubleshooting, much of it unnecessary, took over 30 minutes. I was asked at least three different times if the TV I was using was capable of 1080p. Each time the answer was the same: "yes". I was asked twice if I had tried different TVs and different cables: "yes". I was even asked to try different HDMI inputs on the TV. I said "it won't do any good, this is the second TV I've tried." But the agent was insistent that I try. After a factory reset still didn't fix the problem I finally asked him "Now are you convinced that the unit is faulty and needs to be replaced?" He finally relented and gave me an RMA number for a return.

I shipped the Roku off that day and about a week later a replacement arrived in the mail. The new unit is connected to the theater and once again we are able to enjoy Netflix streaming. Hopefully this one will last.

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