I hope you enjoyed this blog. It was a catchall for my ideas and experiences as I transitioned from cable to broadcast tv. I’ve organized all of my thoughts in a new blog which is from the perspective of one who has been there. Take a look…

This is the last post to Roku for Dummies.


Ode to Roku 2 XS

Who knew Brian May owned a Roku 2 XS?

It started off so well
They said we made a perfect pair
I clothed myself in your glory and your love
How I loved you, how I cried

Years of care and loyalty
Were nothing but a sham it seems
Years belie, we lived the lie
“I love you ’til I die”

Save me, save me, save me
I can’t face this life alone
Save me, save me, save me
I’m naked and I’m far from home

The slate will soon be clean
I’ll erase the memories
To start again with somebody new
Was it all wasted, all that love ?

I hang my head and I advertise
A soul for sale or rent
I have no heart, I’m cold inside
I have no real intent

Save me, save me, save me
I can’t face this life alone
Save me, save me
Oh, I’m naked and I’m far from home

Each night I cry
And still believe the lie
“I love you until I die”

Save me, save me, save me, oh
Just save me, save me, oh, save
Don’t let me face my life alone
Save me, save me
Oh, I’m naked and I’m far from home

Buh-bye Roku!

I unplugged my Rokus this morning.  It wasn’t a difficult decision.  I had only invested around $300 in hardware and nothing in channels.  I bought my first Roku because the Sony SMP-N200 did not support PlayOn.  Their support guys recommended the Roku, so I tried one.  That was in 2012.  I was shocked to learn that discussion of Roku’s best channel would get you banned from their forums.

Then came the updates.  Every update made the Roku worse.  There are four locked threads on their fan forums regarding the instability of the Roku 2 XS.  Despite this, their chat support denies the problem (“It is not issue at all”), and their consumer advocacy email simply refuses to address the issue.

I was so unhappy with Roku with their banned channels, locked discussions, and broken hardware that I decided to try the Amazon Fire TV in April.  While it lacks the channels of the Roku, the FTV has been rock solid.  It supports PlayOn and, finally, the Simple DVR (via Plex).  My family loves the user interface and the snappy performance.  My kids love the games and support for real game controllers.

This week, Real Simple Software announced a Plex channel for their DVR.  With that announcement, my relationship with Roku ended.  We are now a Plex on Fire TV streaming family — 100%.  Buh bye Roku!  You can have your snarky VCMs and people whose USERID includes the word Roku.  You can keep your banned channels and primitive interface.  I don’t need your several-times-a-day reboots.  I am happily watching everything I want to watch on a streamer from a company that values its customers.

I’ll leave this blog up as a reference for the masochists, but I have moved on and you should too.

Roku Installation Guide

A lot of people are gifting Rokus this time of year.  A lot of people will be returning them to the store in a couple weeks.  This guide will help the Roku newbie start enjoying their device more quickly, avoid common pitfalls, and get the most out of the streamer.  The guide was created looking at a Roku 2 XS, but, generally, applies to all models (some Rokus do not have wired ethernet while others lack composite out).

  1. Connect everything
  2. Create your account
  3. Remove your payment method
  4. Configure your Roku
  5. Find content
  6. Getting help
  7. About Roku Refurbs
  8. Remoku

Connect Everything: With the Roku 2 XS, you have the option of connecting to your local network wired or wireless.  If at all possible, run a wire.  The Roku 2 XS supports HDMI and composite.  HDMI is high definition and composite is standard definition.  If possible, connect via HDMI.   If you like to listen to internet radio stations, run a composite cable from your Roku 2 XS’s red and white outputs to your HTIB or soundbar’s aux in.  This will let you listen to audio from your Roku without running your television.

Create Your Account: The Roku device requires a Roku account.  To create a Roku account, you will have to provide a user name, an email address, a password, a pin, and a payment method.  If you do not want to provide a payment method, call Roku support and they will create an account without requiring a payment method.  Make sure you select  ‘A PIN is required only when using your Roku account to make purchases’ whether you save or delete your payment information.  This prevents others for making purchases with your account.  If you want to make sure your kids are not able to add channels without your consent, select ‘A PIN is required when using your Roku account to make purchases or add any item from the Channel Store’ for your account.

Remove Your Payment Method: As soon as you create your account, you will be presented with an account dashboard.  Choose to Update Payment Method and choose Delete Payment Method.

Configure your Roku: Now, power up your Roku.  You’ll be prompted to choose wired or wireless ethernet.  You’ll need to know your network’s password.  After that your Roku will update to the latest software and reboot.  Once the Roku is up to date, you will be presented with a code that associates your Roku with your online account.  Tip: If you are having trouble connecting your Roku wirelessly, connect it using the wired ethernet option, take the updates, then switch to wireless.

Find Content: Some channels come pre-installed on the Roku.  Many more are available in the Roku Channel Store.  The rest are private.  There are two kinds of private channels.  The really private channels are invitation only.  The rest are channels that are not welcome in the Roku Channel Store.  This is generally due to the streamed content — it may be risque or flirting with copyright infringement or simply competing with a Roku favored channel.  Here are some resources…

If you are looking for ‘cable content’ for your Roku, check out  Aereo can stream local (broadcast) channels to your Roku for $8/month.  If you are a YouTube fan, the best YT channel for your Roku is the banned VideoBuzz channel.

Getting Help: When things go wrong, you have to be careful dealing with Roku.  Their warranty is 90 days and they don’t know you on day 91.  The key to getting good support for 90 days is to act quickly and document EVERYTHING.

  • If you are having trouble setting up a new Roku, call their phone support (1-888-600-7658).
  • If you are dissatisfied with the phone support, have language issues, or simply prefer not to communicate on the phone, try their chat support.
  • If you want to talk about your Roku or learn about Roku approved channels, visit their fan forums.

Be sure to record time, date, and the support person’s name if you seek help on the phone.  Save your transcript if you use the chat support.  Don’t expect much from the fan forums.  Most important, if you are approaching the end of the 90 day warranty period, get an RMA and return the unit.  Seriously, they don’t know you on day 91.

About Roku Refurbs: Roku refurbs are a bargain.  They are offered at steep discounts, carry the same 90 day warranty, and are mostly open box returns.  At this time, almost all Roku 2 XS models are refurbs.  If you receive a DOA refurb, handle the return/refund with the vendor.  Once the return period has passed or if the problem is minor or not obvious (remote does not work), seek support via Roku.  First question to ask and first answer to document is whether or not Roku stands behind the 90 day warranty.  I generally ask this via the support chat BEFORE making a purchase.  If Roku will not stand behind the refurb, return it to the seller.

Of the four refurbs I have purchased, one had a bad remote and Roku sent a new one in a couple days.

Remoku: Remoku is a web app that controls your Roku.  This can help you troubleshoot a problem, deal with a misplaced remote, or wait out the arrival of a replacement.  You are going to need to know the IP address of your Roku.  It’s a GREAT idea to capture this information when everything is working.  From the Roku home screen, select Settings then About.  Write down your IP address.  Click this link to Remoku, click Settings at the top of the screen, type your IP address into the Manual Add box and click the + button, click Remote at the top of the screen, and click some buttons to see if Remoku is working.