No, You Don't Need To Drop $1000 On A Wifi TV To Use A Roku

Sure, you should research purchases ahead of time, but discovering new things while shopping out in the real world can be fun. Reader HogwartsProfessor was browsing the electronics section at Walmart and had some questions about a Roku. Two associates told her that no, the devices only work if you have a wifi-enabled TV. This isn’t true, as she learned: the point of the Roku is that it is the device that streams Internet content to your TV.

I was looking at a Roku LT box, the lowest end option they offer, at Walmart and had a couple of questions. I found an associate and I asked him about channels, apps, etc. He then informed me I would have to have a wifi-enabled television to use the Roku.

I was like, “WHAT? The box doesn’t convert the wireless signal?” He grabbed another associate and they both reiterated that no, the TV itself has to be wifi-enabled.

Not being an electronics expert but not a total noob either, I didn’t think that sounded right. I said I wasn’t going to buy a whole new TV just to purchase a $58 Roku and I put it back. I paid for my other purchases up front and left.

When I got home, the first thing I did was to go to Roku’s website just to see if I was crazy, or if they were full of crap. The list of features said “Works with virtually any TV.” I called Roku and talked to [R], a very nice CSR who informed me that Walmart was mistaken, that all I needed was the right ports on the TV and a wireless Internet connection. I said “HA!”

I called that Walmart back and asked for the manager. I got a young-sounding guy named [C], and I told him politely that I think the associates in Electronics were mistaken, that the Roku in fact did NOT need a wifi TV, and I had double checked it with the company itself. I also suggested that if they told other people this, they might have actually discouraged purchases of the Roku because customers who didn’t think to check or didn’t know may not have wanted to buy a new television for $1000 just to use a $58 device. He thanked me and told me he would talk to them. I thanked him too and we hung up.

I just want people to make sure they check these things before they go, and tell their family and friends to do so as well. The associates did not try to scam me into buying a new TV, but they definitely didn’t know what they were talking about. I’d rather have heard an “I really don’t know,” than outright bullhockey like this.

I also told [C] I would probably be buying the device; I just wouldn’t be purchasing it from Walmart.

Okay, a Walmart associate not knowing the details of every product in the electronics department isn’t news. This story does demonstrate the value of doing your own research, though, and of letting a store know when they’re spreading misinformation that hurts their own sales.