Recently got the Roku, and have very mixed feelings about it. It delivers a good picture, and is reasonably easy to use, but it sure does not deliver in some areas as well as a laptop hooked up to the TV does.
Of course there's the ridiculous HULU restrictions everyone is aware of, not an issue with the laptop. There's also a wide array of college sports you'll never get via Roku.
Another thing that drives me nuts is some of the older shows (60's, 70's) that actually are available on Hulu Plus need to be viewed in "standard" aspect vs 720p/1080p. If you then want to go to Netflix for something newer, switching to 720p knocks you off the wireless network. You then have to re-connect, and wait for Roku to start up again.
The remote is sure handy, but I don't know if I can stand the quirks.
Welcome as a new Roku owner and forum contributor.
Has someone convinced you Roku's prime selling point is: the remote control? Great feature all right, but standard for web streaming appliances: Apple TV, web-enabled TVs and Bluray players, Roku, gaming consoles, more. (I like using my laptop's HDMI support to my TV, too, so I grasp what you're saying about that being a good program source.)
It sounds like your greatest frustration is with the Hulu Plus channel, specifically (just one of many channels). If so, you may get support help here by including "Hulu Plus" in your title and describing the specific support problem with that channel.
Aspect ratio: Are you expecting older TV shows that were created in 4x3 aspect ratio, to natively support a widescreen aspect ratio? If so: let us know.
You'll find lots of folks are interested in trying to help. Please come back and offer some feedback for the things others have posted. Are any of the responders on the right track?