Dear Friends & Readers,
The age of internet has revolutionized our generation’s access to entertainment. To watch a movie you use to have to do the following: a) go the a movie theater b) buy a VHS or c) wait for it to air on TV. But things have changed, live streaming movies from the internet directly to your tv/computer/smart phone/tablet is the modern way to gain access to entertainment. Thanks to services like Netflix, Vudu, Hulu, just to name a few, movies can be watched anytime anywhere. For people living is a small urban apartment, streaming movies online is a God Sent innovation that spares the aggravation of dusting all the VHS and DVDs. The decluttering factor is great but navigating live streaming is a polarizing experience: some people abandon cable altogether, others are intimidated. I asked Rachael Glynn, my super tech savvy guardian angel, to help my readers understanding live streaming and how to get the best/most of what the internet has to offer in entertainment. Rachael is an expert in technology and pairs her talent with a down-to-earth and fun approach. She is responsible for solving many tech disasters in my life: think of her as the friend you have on speed dial when your Computer/TV/Smartphone bursts into flames!
Online Streaming Made Easy
Don’t know about Roku? It’s your TV’s new best friend. Roku is a streaming media device that features over 700 available channels including: Netflix, Hulu Plus, Amazon Instant Video, Pandora, and so much more, including news and sports. Besides putting all the best streaming options available to you on one tiny little box, Roku also excels at search. Want to watch a particular movie, but you don’t know what channel it is available on? You’re in luck, Roku will search them all at the same time.
Maybe someone gave you a Roku box for Christmas or you bought one for yourself during the $20 off promotion, but either way how can you get the most out of your new best friend? If you haven’t bought a Roku yet, they’re running a promotion of $10 off the top of the line model right now through 2/2/2013, or if you have a Costco nearby they may still have their bundle, which includes an HDMI cable and 2 months of Hulu Plus, for $89.99.
How to get the most out of your Roku Box
FIRST, and I cannot emphasize this enough, go download the Roku app for your phone. You can find the link for iOS here and that for Android here. Hopefully you read this before trying to add all the channels with accounts to your Roku. Why do you need the app you ask?
(1) Do you hate trying to type things using the remote and keyboard displayed on the TV? The app turns your phone into a remote for Roku and lets you use the keyboard on your phone to enter information into forms. (This feature is not perfect yet, and navigating forms still requires a little extra thought).
(2) Do you not have a streaming music solution already? Did you just download the latest Justin Bieber album to your phone and want to quickly play it on your TV? You can stream content from your phone to Roku.
(3) Have dinner guests and want to bore everyone with photos from your latest vacation or pictures of child from today that you haven’t posted on Facebook yet? You can display photos from your phone on Roku with a couple of clicks.
SECOND, get Plex. You want Youtube on your Roku? This will do it. Do you have tons of kid photos and videos sitting on your computer that you want to show to everyone all the time? This will do it. Not only can Plex stream content to your Roku, but it also allows you to send that same content to Android and iOS devices. So no matter where you are you can edit your queue, show someone a favorite youtube video or the latest video of your cat doing something cute. (As long as your computer running Plex is on and connected to the internet, something to remember if your current energy saver settings are set to turn off your computer after a specific amount of time.)
I know it sounds scary, a media server? It must be complicated, but it’s not, and it will turn your Roku box plus computer into a way to watch just about everything you could ever want on your TV. Not to mention Plex has amazing queue management abilities.
(1) Start by going on the Plex page and download Plex onto your computer and set it up. It is really easy. Plex will prompt you to setup an account, remember or save this username and password as you will need it later to setup Plex on your Roku
(2) Go to your inbox and open the confirmation email from Plex to confirm your account
(3) Add content on your computer to Plex media manager
(4) Add the Plex channel to your Roku and login in
(5) Start using Plex and stream everything you could ever desire to your TV.
Finally, add MORE channels to your Roku. You can start with services you already have accounts on such as Netflix, Pandora, Amazon and Hulu, but then make sure and branch out to try Crackle, Popcornflix, Vudu, HBOGO, Smithsonian, and VEVO.
Also, be on the look-out for promos when setting up your Roku. For example, recently Vudu has offered $5.99 in video credit for new users on Roku, and Amazon offers $5 in video credit when you register a Roku box to your Amazon Instant Video account.
Tech Angel’s Troubleshooting Tips
Like every electronic device, you should know how to reboot your Roku in case something odd happens. So if the screen on your Roku freezes and the Home button doesn’t work. There are two ways to reboot your Roku.
(Recommended) Easiest is to use your remote, it will take several minutes for the screen to reboot. Do the following in this exact order:
- Press Home 5 times
- Press Up 1 time
- Press Rewind 2 times
- Press Fast Forward 2 times
(Be cautious) You can also use a paper-clip and gently depress the reset button on the back of your Roku. Just press and release. Be careful because if you hold this for 15 seconds or longer, it will set your Roku back to factory settings.
Enjoy live streaming and feel free to ask questions in the comment box below!