Filtering Digital Media Receivers – which one is for me?

This analysis was updated. Click to see the new report

I am getting ready to buy one, but buying one is just a beginning of the experience. The trick is to select the DMR that will give me more joy than a headache. Somebody said that there are 3 kinds of people:
1. people who learn from other people mistakes
2. people who learn from their own ones, and
3. people who never learn.
Let’s try to be the first kind of people and learn from others about their DMR experiences.

Let’s start with filtering the DMRs that have most customer reviews available on Social Media venues as there is a safety in numbers. I am not saying “Eat shit – 5,000,000 flies can’t be wrong!”, but there is a value in statistically representative information and it is much more difficult to plant a large number of reasonably descriptive customer reviews – just ask the Idiot Marketers who tried and got caught.

Comparing the “stars” of these receivers does not reveal much

as all of them sport 3.5-4 stars forcing me to sift through hundreds of reviews to decipher which one would give me the most satisfaction with the least risk and headache. This problem provided motivation for development of Opinion Miner® software and applications that are using it to produce the following score card.

The green shadowed cells indicate the highest score for an attribute and the red one highlight customer disappointment.

This makes my selection much easier as I can see that Roku XD delighted their customers with most of the attributes important to them. More than any other receiver we considered. However I also have information to make this decision personal, not just following the math – I do not buy from a company that disappoints their customers with Customer Support that makes…..

Drum rolls please!

The winner of 2010 Piplzchoice Award in the Digital Receiver Category is Apple TV 2010

This entry was posted in Customer Support, Market Intelligence, Opinion Miner, Product Marketing and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink.

14 Responses to Filtering Digital Media Receivers – which one is for me?

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  3. Len Feldman says:

    With all due respect, ranking Apple #1 in this analysis makes no sense. Consider that:

    1) You give no information as to the number of consumers who actually participated in this survey, so there’s no way to know if your findings have any statistical significance.

    2) You don’t define the weights that were given to the various attributes, other than to say that they’re listed in rank order.

    3) Both Roku models scored significantly higher than Apple on far more attributes, and just slightly higher on the attribute on which the Roku models were found to be “below 1”.

    4) Your company’s business model is to sell this information to manufacturers, and it’s impossible to rule out whether your findings were biased by one or more clients, or by your attempts to sign one or more companies as clients.

    I was requested to post links to this survey, and to your service, on my website by one of your associates. On the basis of the deficiencies in your reporting, I can’t recommend that my readers use your service.

  4. Gregory says:


    Let me address the issues you have brought up in the same order as you have listed them.
    1) We do not do surveys. The information is the result of Opinion Mining of 1,164 customer reviews for these products. At the time of the writing it was 352 reviews for Roku XDS, 236 for Roku XD, 307 for Apple TV 2010 and 269 for Logitech Revue. I apologize for omitting this information.
    2) Our methodology does not apply weights to establish the ranking. The ranks are assigned based on number of times customers expressed their opinion (non neutral) about specific attribute within the body of reviews.
    3) You are absolutely correct – both Roku models seem to be functionally superior to Apple TV, however this is a blog article that describes how our information can be used by a consumer (in this case is me) to select a product based on my personal priorities – “I do not buy from a company that disappoints their customers with Customer Support that makes……”. This was not intended as a recommendation or scientifically objective judgement.
    4) Your concern about our business model is reasonable, but since we sell information and not judgments, why would a company pay us to manipulate the results of our findings? They use it to discover customer insight that assist them in their product management efforts. Our findings are produced by the algorithms measuring difference between customer expectations and customer experience. Anybody is welcome to visit our demo page, enter any product they are interested in without identifying themselves, see the basic reputation metrics and read the reviews written and published by customers. Our model is completely transparent.

    Please let me know if you have any more questions or concerns.

  5. Len Feldman says:


    Thank you very much for your clarification! In your response to my first question, you said that you had received reviews for the Apple, Roku and Logitech set-top boxes. You don’t mention the Boxee Box, yet you included it in your review, and in fact ranked it as the poorest option. How many reviews did you include for the Boxee Box?

    If the “Plplschoice Award” is based not on the data you collected, but on your subjective evaluation of a single attribute, you should make that clear, or at least change the name to “Gregory’s Choice.”

    I’m not being picky: You claim to be an unbiased market research company doing metasurveys of customer reviews from a variety of sites. You don’t list the sites you use, and your methodology is to count the number of times that reviewers express their opinion on a variety of attributes. The number of “votes” that you’re getting for each attribute can be very small–take the 236 reviews that you parsed for the Roku XD. If the 13 attributes were evenly distributed, that means that you got only 18.15 votes per attribute, much less than is needed to establish any statistical significance. (Yes, I know that they weren’t evenly distributed, but you provide no information about the actual distribution. It’s equally possible that you had some cells with far fewer than 18 votes.)

    Far from being transparent, your system, as it currently stands, is a “black box”. You’re going to have to provide much more transparency and information on your methodology if you plan on selling this to companies with sophisticated market research departments.

  6. Gregory says:


    You raise very valid questions from the customer’s perspective, but this blog post is not a piece of paid research – just an illustration of what we are trying to do. Boxee Box has 302 reviews, this information is visible on the demo page if you enter the name of a product. The text of the reviews and sources, from which these reviews were aggregated, are also accessible from this page if you click on “View Reviews” links. All of this information, and level of its transparency, is free of charge for illustration purposes.

    Piplzchoice is my Twitter name and I use them interchangeably with my name.

    We do provide complete statistical information and distribution, as well as snippets of the text supporting each attribute measurement, to our paying customers. You can find example in this post

  7. Brian says:

    No offense, but there are numerous logic problems and omissions in this brief “analysis”.

    One glaring example: I know the Boxee can play files on a NAS from across your network. The Roku does not offer this ability at all. Some of us don’t want to be carrying a USB device back and forth from our PCs to our media streamer, so that automatically rules out the Roku. (This is unfortunate, because I also have a Roku and it’s an excellent device for what it is meant to do.) There will probably more a Roku eventually that does perform this task, as it’s going to become commonplace within the next couple of years, but it doesn’t exist right now.

  8. Gregory says:


    No offense is taken. I have no idea what and how these devices do. This is not review of the products by me and I am not an expert on DMR devices. Our only concern is these products reputation from perspective of people who purchased these products and bothered to leave their reviews of their experience with them. All we did is used our software to aggregate these reviews, mine their opinions and measure the difference between their expectations and their experiences. Therefore if they did not express any, statistically representative, opinion about ability to play files on NAS, or any other examples you have mention, we did not include them into our analysis. Perhaps you had an excellent experience with Roku, but enough of their other customers were disappointed by their customer support. All we did was to amplification and measurement of this signal.

  9. Gavin C says:

    Perhaps you might replace the black box with a “pre launch hype to reality quotient”.

    After all, what you’ve done here is relate what any given owner of a specific device *expected* to get vs what they *actually* got, right?

    Useful I guess for marketing folks to know how far they over-promised and under delivered (tho I imagine the sales numbers will give them that).

    For users, or anyone who is otherwise facing “sift[ing] through hundreds of reviews to decipher which one would give me the most satisfaction with the least risk and headache”, I feel dumb but I don’t see how this analysis let’s me avoid doing that.

    Maybe if all the devices were identical in what all they could actually do for me, then this analysis helps me?

  10. Gregory says:


    “After all, what you’ve done here is relate what any given owner of a specific device *expected* to get vs what they *actually* got, right?” – you are absolutely right. However “the box” is not black at all when you see a demo of our service, and I am ready to show it to you, or anybody who is interested. The most critical part is that we (i.e. our software) do not define attributes we measure, as you would do by formulating questions (i.e. leading/influencing the answers). We just “hear” what the product customers opine within their experience and measure their opinions.

    “Useful I guess for marketing folks to know how far they over-promised and under delivered (tho I imagine the sales numbers will give them that).” – It is designed for “marketing folks” since consumers we did not find a format yet that would entice consumers to pay for the information we produce. However the sales numbers do not show them what they have over promised and how much they have over promised that. In addition it allows them to see how their competitor’s products meet their customer’s expectations. The most valuable aspect of our service to marketers, according to our customers, is assisting their planning efforts to identify “next” product opportunities by flashing out what attributes are important to the customers (because they talk about it a lot), but current product is not meeting their expectations (because the attribute score is below 1).

    Personally, as a consumer, I find even basic 4 metrics ,we have made available free of charge at, very useful. I can read expert reviews to find what a product can do, but if I consider buying it I want to know its reputation with its customers. Particularly how often does anything go wrong (Reliability) and how the company deals with customers when it happen (Support).

  11. Robert *Fucking* Cooper says:

    I have a feeling that these reviews ( just like the Nielsen ratings) are bullshit. How can you say [ “Roku is awesome, its the best… and thus we rate AppleTV #1..” ] this is all bullshit. you’ve been paid. this is an entirely unregulated market because it doesn’t generate enough flow for anyone to care. and ultimately the whole media system is going to crash. luckily, I’m gonna make so much money off of it its ridiculous. and I can even post it here because no one will believe me and just think I’m some crazy, drunk internet poster. HA.

  12. SirRokuALot-Wah Wah!!! says:

    I’ve got a Roku. Personally, I like it a lot. I tried the Revue for a weak, hated the hell out of it (but apparently, hell made it better). So i returned it, got the Roku (best Roku model is like a billion bucks cheaper than the Revue…that’s a plus, unless you’re retarded). I wanted an HTPC to replace cable (Cox kept raising prices for basic channels from 1-99…75 bucks for that? fuck off Cox), but didn’t want to overuse my XBOX 360 (with gaming and television)
    The Revue, froze on the second day of use. (why these companies don’t include a power button like you would a PC, is beyond me). The Roku, froze once on me….after a month. both were kept in a very open, spacious, area away from heat.
    The remote on the Roku makes it a little harder to find what you want, but the Revue has a keyboard and i believe it’s the only HTPC with one…but the Revue doesn’t have anything worth searching for.
    Oh, and guess what! as far as channels go, the Roku has it’s Channel Store that everyone can see, whereas they also have a Private Channel Store. Third Party channels. i was pissed that i couldn’t stream my personal collection on my comp to the Roku. Well, a third party channel called Gabby fixed that. oh, and let’s not forget the free porn!!!! who doesn’t like that???!?!!?!?!?!?!?!?!
    all in all, The Revue sucks. But so does Apple. and here is why….
    sure, they might have better customer support. But better customer support with Apple, is like being in prison with nicer gaurds. wheras with the Roku, you might not get better customer support than Apple (which doesn’t mean it’s horrible customer support) but you get more freedom….like…not being in prison.
    Apple has always, and will always, be known for having way more restrictions….and this is why i advise anyone to stay away from them =D ….. for any product…..period. unless you like taking it in the arse by Steve Jobs while giving Mark Zuckerburger a reach around.
    The roku….you can do much more with it than you can an AppleTV, and the Revue. As for Boxee Box….it’s alright, but i have it in my room on my 32 inch LCD monitor….but i wouldn’t replace cable television with it (Hulu bytch fit)

  13. Gregory says:

    Thank you for sharing your customer experience with us. We do not really collect them on this site, instead we aggregate them all over the web about many different products, but we are happy to publish them here nevertheless. I would love to learn which model of Roku you have purchased. BTW, this analysis is badly outdated and many customer experiences were published since have run our software to produce it. I will post an update in the next few days, let’s see how these products’ reputations evolved.

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