Thursday, August 16, 2012

Getting the most out of your Roku

So you bought a Roku2 box and wondering how to get the most use out of it. In this post I will try to share my experience and thoughts on the subject.

My first recommendation would be to get a Pogoplug classic for $30 and install ArchLinuxARM on it. Then install MyMedia server on your new Pogoplug and enjoy streaming content from your local network. Pogoplug and MyMedia are perfect match for your Roku. If you have kids who wants to watch DVDs over and over this setup makes a lot of sense. Just rip your DVDs and place them on your Pogoplug server and your kids can enjoy them any time without trashing your disks. The server can also be used for backup of your computers if the drive has enough space.

Hulu is one of the options to get your TV programming. It has a lot of foreign programming, Korean and Australian being predominant. It also has Criterion collection movies. Hulu application is pretty bad as far as software is concerned. It does not throttle bit rate and on the slower connections video stutters a lot. I wish Hulu addressed these problems since the only people who suffers are paying customers. At the end Hulu is not that expensive and may be worth it if you want to cut the cable.

Crackle is another good option. Content is so so but the application is OK enough and I did not have any problems playing videos. The only problem is that advertizements are not as well integrated and the ad experience is worse than on Hulu. For free though one can't complain.

The other option is to download content using Bittorrent client. I would recommend qBittorrent but there are no shortage of clients. A lot of new content already encoded in h264 format which Roku can play. If however your content is encoded in divx, you would have to transcode it in to the h264. Hanbrake is one of the best applications to do this. Just select Normal profile and off you go. The application is very easy to use and produces videos that have no problems with Roku. Just make sure not to use Mkv container. Although Roku claims to support this container, it has lots of problems playing and navigating the content, and often crashes.

If your kids like PBS shows, most of them can be downloaded with a little patience and know-how. Rtmpdump would be the application to use for downloading and Wireshark is the application to use for capturing the show URLs. I downloaded and transcoded for Roku whole seasons of Fetch and Cyber Chaise. I am surprised why PBS does not put these seasons on the web for everyone to download or maybe just for people who make donation.

Over all Roku can keep you entertained just enough, especially if you are not addicted to the TV.

1 comment:

mb said...

Found your blog when searching Pogoplug + Roku. I got a Pogoplug for $13 (cyber monday 2013). Putting ArchLinux was straigtforward. I'll try to put MyMedia next.