YouTube Available On All Current Rokus

In case you missed it (I did).  About two days after getting update 5.4 Build 3358, the ‘official’ YouTube app became available for my Roku 2 XS.  I really like it.  This app supports pairing so I can send videos from my phone, PC, or tablet to my Roku.  It also supports a really nice implementation of continuous play.  More information here…

http://blog.roku.com/blog/2014/04/22/youtube-update-channel-now-available-to-all-current-generation-devices/

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Roku Rooted!

This morning, the following was posted on the GTVHacker blog

Hello Universe, welcome back. It’s been a while since our last post due to a lack of new Google TV hardware and developments. When we have free time we tend to look at other interesting opportunities that come our way and recently we came into just such a situation when we found ourselves auditing multiple Roku devices.

The entire GTVHacker team has put a lot of work into this release and we hope the Roku community enjoys it. We invite others to continue our work and are happy to share progress made while we work to further leverage the current exploits before a patch is released. In the mean time, if you have a second generation Roku, root it. And if you don’t, buy one quick!

A new poster to the Roku fan forum announced that the GTVHacker had exploited a security hole on the Roku streamer and that some of the devices could be permanently rooted.  A short time later, discussions of the exploit were purged from the fan site.

Apparently, you can control updates to your Roku by restricting access to austin.sw.roku.com and giga.sw.roku.com on your router (add those two sites to its list of blocked sites).

I have not tested any of this.  If you choose to, you may violate Roku’s ToS or damage your streamer, so proceed with caution and at your own risk.

By Len Mullen Posted in News

Roku Stumbles Again

Yesterday, Roku unveiled…nothing.  After getting slammed for removing composite out from the Roku 3, the popular internet streamer decided to stick to cosmetic changes for the rest of its streamers.

Unfortunately, the cosmetic changes came with confusing name changes.  Until yesterday, Roku had been naming its streamers with the following convention…

Brand + Generation + Model

So, we had a first generation Roku 1 and a second generation Roku 2 XS.  A second generation Roku LT muddied things up, but now we have third generation models called Roku 1, Roku 2, Roku 3, and Roku LT.  And the new remotes take AAA batteries rather than AA which means about half the battery life.  The Roku 3 2 couples this with a headphone jack, so keep a box of batteries next to the easy chair.

The Roku 3 1 and the Roku 3 2 and the Roku 3 LT all have composite outputs — real rca jacks too AND they put a composite cable in the box (but you will have to supply your own HDMI cable).

And still no YouTube.

By Len Mullen Posted in News

Time to buy a Roku?

Been thinking of buying a Roku?  Confused by all the models and all the prices?  Ben’s Outlet sells factory refurbished Roku 2 XS streamers for $54.99 shipped every day.

The Roku 2 XS is my favorite Roku. It has composite and hdmi outputs, so it works with older televisions as well as modern HDTVs. You can use the composite audio to drive an auxiliary input on a home theater so that you can turn your tv off while enjoying internet radio or your MP3 collection on the Roku. The XS also has a usb port, so you can connect a usb disk full of videos or MP3s. The R2XS also has both wired and wireless ethernet. In my experience, the wireless radio is very good.

Reburbs are good as new!  Roku warrants refurbs with the same 90 warranty you get with a new model and the refurbs are mostly open box returns, so the discount is real.  I had a problem with a remote which came with a refurbished Roku 2 XS.  I clicked the chat link on the Roku support page and, after a few minutes of troubleshooting, they shipped me a new remote.  Roku stands behind their refurbs.

What exactly is a streaming media player? I keep forgetting some people do not know about streaming.  A streaming media player is a device that formats files and streams available on the internet for presentation on a television.  Generally, you get a nice menu and a remote and an interface that allows you to connect your streamer to the interface via your internet service provider.  That might not sound very exciting, but I promise you Netflix is more exciting on a 50″ plasma that a 15″ laptop and the Roku’s remote works better than a mouse.

Can I cut my cable if I buy a Roku?  No.  If you enjoy local programming, cable sports, continuous programming, or time shifting, the Roku 3 is not going to replace your cable or broadcast television service.  I think Roku and other streaming media interests misrepresent themselves as a substitute for cable or broadcast television.  It’s obvious that they are not once you plug the device in and, as a consequence, there is no shortage of refurbished Rokus.

Why do I need a Roku?  You don’t.  But, you may want one.  While the Roku is no substitute for cable or broadcast television, it is a great supplement.  In fact, you might find that buying a Roku will allow you to ‘trim’ your cable service.  I personally prefer to wait for a popular series to arrive on Netflix.  The reward for my patience is a block of drama or comedy in a couple days that most have to experience over a year.  I like that a lot.

And there are a lot of compelling channels…

  • ADC: Free movie channel
  • Amazon Cloud Player: Play all the free music Amazon sends my way
  • CNN: Includes CNN International Live for background news and information
  • Crackle: Sony’s FREE version of Netflix
  • CS50: Harvard Intor to Computer Science course
  • Comedy Time: ‘Play All’ makes for good background noise
  • CBSSports.com: ‘Play All’ feature makes for a nice sports news channel
  • CNBC: Streaming business news for news and information
  • FoxNews: Stream from web site plus clips of popular shows with ‘Play All’
  • Kaplan College Prep: Help your kid with his SATs
  • Lecture Kings: Librivox audio box is hidden in a channel of university lectures
  • Netflix
  • Nowhere TV: To install Nowhere TV on your Roku, click here
  • OVGuide: Free movie channel
  • Playon: To install the Private Playon channel, click here
  • Plex: Stream your own files to your Roku via a Plex Server; lost of supported and unsupported channels too
  • Popcornflix
  • Popflix Classic TV: 26 Men, Adventures of Robin Hood, The Beverly Hillbillies, Bonanza, Burns and Allen, Date with the Angels, Dragnet, Life with Elizabeth, The Lone Ranger, The Lucy Show, Man with a Camera, Petticoat Junction, Sherlock Holmes, Westerns, You Bet Your Life
  • PubDHub: The stuff your dad used to reminisce about — ancient cartoons, PSAs, commercials, and movies
  • Smithsonian: Better than the Discovery channel
  • TWiT: Steve Gibson, Leo Laporte, and others talk tech
  • WSJ Live: WSJ had good election coverage

On the horizon… There are some cool things going on in the internet television arena.  As disappointing as Simple has been, a lot of early adopters are pretty satisfied.  Simple.tv allows you to watch broadcast television on a Roku.  Aereo streams broadcast television to your Roku via the internet.  Aereo is going national this summer after fighting the cable companies in the courts most of last year.  Time Warner Cable (TWC) has a Roku channel that will let its customers use a Roku as a set top box replacement.

By Len Mullen Posted in News

Welcome!

Welcome to Roku for Dummies.  This blog is an unauthorized travel guide for the Roku Streaming Media appliance.  Tips, tricks, and secrets are posted here that will help you get the most out of your Roku.  This blog is in no way affiliated with Roku or any of the products mentioned.  I do not personally endorse the use of the Roku or any of the products mentioned.

By Len Mullen Posted in News