Are you happy with the Roku you received this Christmas? Everyone I recommended a Roku to this past holiday has been happy with it. They all love the easy set up and that they can access lots of content from Netflix, Hulu Plus, HBO GO and Amazon Instant Video. It’s my go-to box for Netflix as it provides 1080P video and Dolby Digital Plus and it’s one of the few Amazon Instant Players that outputs Dolby Digital surround sound. If you’re looking for some basic tips on finding channels and setting up your Roku, there are good posts at the Roku Blog and GigaOM. So, here’s my list of Roku 2 tips (biased towards the XS which I own):
Netflix Channel Extras: While you’re watching a title, press the down arrow to see the title name, episode name, length, year and rating (this also works in Amazon Instant Video) overlay on the screen. Also, while browsing titles on the grid, pressing the “*” key on the remote gives you the option to add or remove a title to your Instant Queue, rate a title or to jump to the search function.
Also, to enjoy Dolby Digital Plus surround sound from Netflix, you need to select it manually before starting a title. In the title screen for the particular movie or TV episode, chose “Audio and Subtitles” and then chose the Dolby Digital Plus track. For some reason, the Roku doesn’t do this automatically.
Free Channels: One of the reasons you purchased a Roku was to save on money on cable and the Roku has a number of free content choices. Some of the free channels include Crackle, Chow (Cooking), Tech TV, TED talks, Newscaster, Wall Street Journal, CNBC, NBC News as well as number of religious ones. WSJ has a number of live programs throughout the day as well as a number of recorded features. The NBC News channel runs a few hours behind when the Nightly News is broadcast. However, while the channel is convenient for watching a portion of the nightly news, it puts each story into a separate clip requiring buffering and therefore a significant pause between segments. While both of these channels are free, they are supported by commercials. Roku’s Newscaster channel gives you access to variety of other news stations such as the BBC, ABC, CBS, Fox News and the Al Jazeera live stream.
If you see the Roku always re-downloading games or channels, I recommended you spend $5 on expanding its on-board storage with a 2 GB microSD flash memory card. The Roku has a small amount of local storage it uses to store channels and games. The games in particular can take up a significant amount of storage space. When this cache storage runs out of space, it discards some channels and loads the channel you are looking for. Note that I have just over 20 channels and Angry Birds loaded up but I haven’t seen the need for the microSD card yet.
For music, the Roku supports both MP3 and unprotected AAC files. It’s best to organize all of your music below a top level folder on the USB drive if you want to be able to play it or shuffle it all at once. There’s currently no support for playlists. Photos are pretty straightforward with support for JPG and PNG files.
- Press Home 5 times
- Presss FF 3 times (not the DPad but the >> key)
- Press REWIND 2 times (not the DPad but the << key
For this to work right you have to hit the buttons fairly quickly with a pause of about a one second between presses. Not too quick though! When you hit the home button, you want to hear its sound effect before you hit a remote key again. It definitely takes some practice. When you are successful, a screen like the one below will appear. Select “Enable Playback debugging” to have see the streaming bit rate show up when you start a title.