Author Topic: Explain this Roku box thing to me  (Read 7672 times)

meadow lark

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Explain this Roku box thing to me
« on: January 05, 2014, 03:55:56 PM »
We turned off cable about 6 months ago.  Now I do most of my watching on www.projectfree.tv .  It is better than nothing, but not great.  Lots of annoying ads, slow downloads, lots of them don't work, etc.  I have heard about Roku, but not sure what it is.  I went to their website and it was pretty confusing.  I want to pay a one time fee, not a monthly one.  Is there lots of content, or do you have to pay for the content in some way?  Do I need a computer to hook up to?  Our TV should be fine, it is just 3 yo.

Khan

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Re: Explain this Roku box thing to me
« Reply #1 on: January 05, 2014, 04:06:31 PM »
A rokubox is a one time fee.

It's a small little device, hooks up to your TV, comes with a remote, and has tons of apps that support every website that you would want to watch from your TV, Hulu, Netflix, Amazon Prime, Youtube(not too sure about google video stuff, haven't tried recently). It has a couple hundred channels beyond that, such as MSNBC video and bible stuff too.

A roku is an all in one media streaming device that doesn't require any setup by yourself beyond plugging it in. There are other solutions, such as an Apple TV, but most of those don't have nearly the features of the Roku. If you setup a HTPC in your living room with browser support, it's probably not as necessary to get a Roku, but for an all contained box, Roku's are great.

I'll be buying a second one this year for my second tv.

sol

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Re: Explain this Roku box thing to me
« Reply #2 on: January 05, 2014, 04:14:06 PM »
Like most set top boxes, Roku is a marketing gimmick.  Pay them up front, then also pay them for content later.  It's all about squeezing every last dollar out of you.  I don't recommend them or any of the equivalents.

There is a TON of free content available to anyone who can plug their tv into a computer.  We spent $280 on a little nettop box a few years ago, which works great.  Or use an old laptop.  Install xbmc (ours runs great under windows) and pick the channels you want and go crazy.  Use hulu if you can stand the ads (we can't) and netflix if you want to pay for it.  Or if your tv has a usb port, spend $35 on a chromecast and use a phone or tablet.

Or you can get an hd antennae at radio shack for $19.99 and get all of your local channels over the air for free.  We only get about 5, but all we really use it for is football games for the kids.

But really, there's not much talk of television on this forum.  Lots about mobile phones, some about tablets and other toys, almost none about tv.  I'd like to believe it's because most people here know better than to waste their lives staring at a screen when they could be doing something other than vegetating towards death, but that's probably wishful thinking.

frugaldrummer

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Re: Explain this Roku box thing to me
« Reply #3 on: January 05, 2014, 04:28:25 PM »
I have a Roku box (p.s. unless you're using it for gaming, you only need the bottom-of-the-line device - mine was about $50 and works great, you could probably buy used for cheaper).  It's very easy to set up and use.

I use my wireless network at home to stream Netflix on my tv.  I don't really use it for much else, although there is some free content and access to other paid services available.  If I didn't already have pay-per-view on my cable tv, I could use the Roku box to access a variety of pay-per-movie sites. 

Tyler

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Re: Explain this Roku box thing to me
« Reply #4 on: January 05, 2014, 05:59:56 PM »
A Roku is just a small box that adds tablet-style streaming apps to your television. Some of the apps are free, and some have monthly fees. Roku has more apps than Apple TV, but doesn't work as well with iTunes if you happen to use that.

I have an AppleTV that I use primarily as a Netflix connection for the bedroom tv. They did recently add a free Smithsonian app that has a lot of cool shows.

ichangedmyname

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Re: Explain this Roku box thing to me
« Reply #5 on: January 05, 2014, 07:31:18 PM »
Most blu-ray players now can turn your tv into a smart tv. When we still had huluplus and netflix we just used the app thru our samsung blu-ray player. And bonus it's a blu-ray player LOL

mlipps

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Re: Explain this Roku box thing to me
« Reply #6 on: January 05, 2014, 08:02:53 PM »
The Roku itself does not have ongoing fees. But, basically anything you could watch on it does, such as Netflix, Hulu (need Hulu Plus), and Amazon Prime.

frugaldrummer

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Re: Explain this Roku box thing to me
« Reply #7 on: January 05, 2014, 08:13:08 PM »
Well, there's a little free content, but not much.  Some news, some PBS shows, etc.

sol

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Re: Explain this Roku box thing to me
« Reply #8 on: January 05, 2014, 11:34:49 PM »
Well, there's a little free content, but not much.  Some news, some PBS shows, etc.

All of that free content is also available (for free and legally) online, if you know where to look.  Xbmc also does a nice job of consolidating the various online feeds into one place, even grouped by network of origin, but it requires you have a computer to hook up to your tv. 

dragoncar

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Re: Explain this Roku box thing to me
« Reply #9 on: January 06, 2014, 12:03:44 AM »
We turned off cable about 6 months ago.  Now I do most of my watching on www.projectfree.tv .  It is better than nothing, but not great.  Lots of annoying ads, slow downloads, lots of them don't work, etc.  I have heard about Roku, but not sure what it is.  I went to their website and it was pretty confusing.  I want to pay a one time fee, not a monthly one.  Is there lots of content, or do you have to pay for the content in some way?  Do I need a computer to hook up to?  Our TV should be fine, it is just 3 yo.

I find projectfree.tv to be no problem with adblock.  Sure, some links don't work, but they have a pretty good reporting system.  And it beats bittorrent because you are not uploading content (which is criminal) and merely downloading (which is arguably non-criminal)

ichangedmyname

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Re: Explain this Roku box thing to me
« Reply #10 on: January 06, 2014, 12:09:37 AM »
We turned off cable about 6 months ago.  Now I do most of my watching on www.projectfree.tv .  It is better than nothing, but not great.  Lots of annoying ads, slow downloads, lots of them don't work, etc.  I have heard about Roku, but not sure what it is.  I went to their website and it was pretty confusing.  I want to pay a one time fee, not a monthly one.  Is there lots of content, or do you have to pay for the content in some way?  Do I need a computer to hook up to?  Our TV should be fine, it is just 3 yo.

I find projectfree.tv to be no problem with adblock.  Sure, some links don't work, but they have a pretty good reporting system.  And it beats bittorrent because you are not uploading content (which is criminal) and merely downloading (which is arguably non-criminal)

Can't you limit your upload to 0?

dragoncar

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Re: Explain this Roku box thing to me
« Reply #11 on: January 06, 2014, 12:25:52 AM »
We turned off cable about 6 months ago.  Now I do most of my watching on www.projectfree.tv .  It is better than nothing, but not great.  Lots of annoying ads, slow downloads, lots of them don't work, etc.  I have heard about Roku, but not sure what it is.  I went to their website and it was pretty confusing.  I want to pay a one time fee, not a monthly one.  Is there lots of content, or do you have to pay for the content in some way?  Do I need a computer to hook up to?  Our TV should be fine, it is just 3 yo.

I find projectfree.tv to be no problem with adblock.  Sure, some links don't work, but they have a pretty good reporting system.  And it beats bittorrent because you are not uploading content (which is criminal) and merely downloading (which is arguably non-criminal)

Can't you limit your upload to 0?

Well this isn't legal advice, but if you are seen in the "swarm" (regardless of actual uploading) you may get drawn into a lawsuit.  Typically, content providers send requests to ISPs based on swarm IPs, even if you don't send any data to the monitoring computer.  The potential lawsuit is not really an expense you want, even if you think you can convince the factfinder that you weren't actually uploading.

Damages wise, I personally see the legal risks for bittorrent as far greater than direct downloading, although the new "six strikes" program makes everything a bit safer.

Ethically, I consider any content freely broadcast over the airwaves as fair game for me to access via alternative means.

Khan

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Re: Explain this Roku box thing to me
« Reply #12 on: January 06, 2014, 12:38:43 AM »
If you want to download stuff, get a newsreader(Xnews), subscribe to a newsgroup(usenet) server(most ISP's have killed their own ones), and download from there. Incredible download speed, no uploading involved.

-(mostly) reformed pirate

daverobev

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Re: Explain this Roku box thing to me
« Reply #13 on: January 06, 2014, 08:22:52 AM »
@sol - 'everyone's favourite' channel/program on Roku is a thing called Plex, I believe, which allows a person to stream whatever they like from their computer to the Roku, and hence onto the big screen.

It's free.

I'm not sure Roku is a 'marketing gimmick', it's a tool - a tool that allows you to play stuff from the internet on your TV.

Lotsa people on here have Netflix already; playing that on the TV they already have is not a bad thing, right?

prodarwin

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Re: Explain this Roku box thing to me
« Reply #14 on: January 06, 2014, 09:04:22 AM »

I'm not sure Roku is a 'marketing gimmick', it's a tool - a tool that allows you to play stuff from the internet on your TV.

This.  Its just a small computer that plays streams on your TV instead of computer.  Netflix, Hulu, Amazon, etc.  There are no fees associated with it.  Think of a cable box that plugs into the internet.  There are many many other streaming boxes that accomplish the same thing, the Roku is just simple and cheap, which is why it has done so well.

I use a PS3 for the same thing, plus the occasional video game.  It also plays dvds/blu-rays I rent from Redbox.  IMO with current prices under $200, its a very good all-in-one system, but it really depends on your usage.

stevedoug

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Re: Explain this Roku box thing to me
« Reply #15 on: January 06, 2014, 09:13:23 AM »
+1 for Chromecast as a solution.

$35, and supports a ton of stuff: https://www.google.com/intl/en/chrome/devices/chromecast/apps.html

youtube alone has infinite free content.
netflix, hulu, etc are cheap subs if you need more
add in a HD Antenna for $20 and you will have more than enough mindless entertainment!

Paul der Krake

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Re: Explain this Roku box thing to me
« Reply #16 on: January 06, 2014, 09:21:27 AM »
Recently installed a Roku for a technologically-illiterate person, and it works pretty well. I like the fact that there are dedicated netflix and amazon video buttons on the remote.

As much as I love XMBC on my raspberry pi, it's not for everyone.

prodarwin

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Re: Explain this Roku box thing to me
« Reply #17 on: January 06, 2014, 10:30:35 AM »
Recently installed a Roku for a technologically-illiterate person, and it works pretty well. I like the fact that there are dedicated netflix and amazon video buttons on the remote.

As much as I love XMBC on my raspberry pi, it's not for everyone.

How you you compare XMBC on the pi to the Roku in terms of streaming performance?  What about in menu navigation performance/load time (this is where the Roku 1 and PS3 are very lacking)?

I haven't used XBMC in a looong time (since the days of the hacked Xbox 1), so I'm out of the loop.  I'd love to replace the PS3 with an always-on low power solution.  My understanding is that using Netflix and Hulu through XBMC can be troublesome.

Paul der Krake

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Re: Explain this Roku box thing to me
« Reply #18 on: January 06, 2014, 10:54:54 AM »
Recently installed a Roku for a technologically-illiterate person, and it works pretty well. I like the fact that there are dedicated netflix and amazon video buttons on the remote.

As much as I love XMBC on my raspberry pi, it's not for everyone.

How you you compare XMBC on the pi to the Roku in terms of streaming performance?  What about in menu navigation performance/load time (this is where the Roku 1 and PS3 are very lacking)?

I haven't used XBMC in a looong time (since the days of the hacked Xbox 1), so I'm out of the loop.  I'd love to replace the PS3 with an always-on low power solution.  My understanding is that using Netflix and Hulu through XBMC can be troublesome.
I'm afraid I don't have the ground to make a good comparison, since I'm only streaming .mp4/.mkv videos on my pi (no flash support), whereas the roku was setup specifically for netflix and other proprietary solutions.
Now if you have quality rips, the pi is amazing. I stream 720/1080p movies from my NAS to the tv with the pi all the time and it is never choppy.

The menus on the pi aren't quite as fast as I would like them to be, especially with the default confluence theme that openELEC provides. But it's a very minor annoyance.

fodder69

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Re: Explain this Roku box thing to me
« Reply #19 on: January 06, 2014, 10:57:26 AM »
The ROKU is awesome, frankly. It's something like $40 for a refurb unit these days. The advantage over a computer is that you can sit in front of your TV with a remote. Yes you could set XBMC to do that too, but after you but the remote and spend lots of time setting it up what does that save you.

I run plex on my computer that records TV and stream it to my Roku. So that's a great free solution and it also streams Hulu and Amazon prime for me.

So the gist is, yes it will provide some free content but to make that really useful requires a separate PC to record or provide the content.

Or it works great to stream hulu, netflix, amazon etc. in a simple low power format. The thing literally draws almost nothing as far as electricity.

jrhampt

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Re: Explain this Roku box thing to me
« Reply #20 on: January 06, 2014, 11:58:07 AM »
The ROKU is awesome, frankly. It's something like $40 for a refurb unit these days. The advantage over a computer is that you can sit in front of your TV with a remote.

I thought about getting a ROKU, but I ended up just getting an HDMI cable and a wireless mouse - it was kind of annoying to use the laptop without the wireless mouse, but now that we have one, it's almost as good as having a remote.

mlipps

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Re: Explain this Roku box thing to me
« Reply #21 on: January 06, 2014, 12:00:08 PM »
The ROKU is awesome, frankly. It's something like $40 for a refurb unit these days. The advantage over a computer is that you can sit in front of your TV with a remote.

I thought about getting a ROKU, but I ended up just getting an HDMI cable and a wireless mouse - it was kind of annoying to use the laptop without the wireless mouse, but now that we have one, it's almost as good as having a remote.

There's an app (RemoteMouse) out there that will turn your smartphone into a wireless mouse/keyboard that's quite functional. I'm sure there are others too. Some are free, none more than $5.

meadow lark

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Re: Explain this Roku box thing to me
« Reply #22 on: January 06, 2014, 02:13:32 PM »
I am glad I asked!  So at this point my plan is to continue using my laptop with an HDMI cable.  Maybe look into a wireless mouse or an app for my phone.  Also I will look up XMBC and plex.  Never heard of them before.  And since I have a laptop we mostly just use for the TV (and YNAB, pictures, etc) replace it with a Roku box or some equivalent.  Considering an antenna.