2012
05.20

In the USA, it seems like that if you subscribe to Netflix then you probably also buy a Roku.  I knew about the devices from a few years ago when I friend introduced me to Netflix and Roku when visiting with him in NC, USA.  Netflix came to Ireland early this year, and thanks to my employers (a distributor), Roku is now available in Irish retail outlets too.

I made sure to put my name down for one once they came into stock.  That was a few weeks ago but I’ve been out of the office for a while.  I finally got my one on Friday and set it up that night.

Here in Ireland (and the UK) the Roku comes in two models, the LT and the higher spec 2 XS.  I went for the latter model.

The device is tiny, about 3 inches square and about 1 inch tall, taking no space at all under the TV, and is totally silent.  It has a HDMI output and a composite output.  There is a USB port and a micro SD port.  It can use wifi or a classic wired network connection (always preferred for streaming media).

Setting it up was easy:

  • Cable it up – power and TV connection (HDMI for me)
  • Configure the wifi connection
  • Allow the automatic software update & reboot
  • Set the time zone
  • Log into http://roku.com/link with an activation code
  • Create Roku account and activate the device
  • Create a payment method for any future purchases, just like with iTunes
  • Select apps/channels, e.g. free Netflix or TWiT
  • The Roku downloads apps automatically right there

At that point the machine is ready to rock and roll.  The Roku is a great way to watch Netflix on your TV.  I went into the settings and configured it for 1080p instead of the default 720p.  Then I fired up the Netflix channel, logged in (required once only) and started browsing and watching.  I also tried out the TWiT channel and started watching an archived episode of Windows Weekly.

The other big reason to have a device like a Roku is to play media.  Apparently you can do this with USB, and I guess the micro SD card.  But I prefer to use the network for this.  I keep content on m Windows Home Server.  I was told that a free download called Plex could be installed on a Windows machine so that’s what I did, turning my WHS into a Plex media server.  The Plex server is configured using a web portal, where you can add channels for TV, Movies, and Music, pointing to the folders that contain the content.  I browsed the available channels on the Roku and installed the Plex client (channel).  Starting it, it automatically discovered my WHS.  I browsed my content and found that Plex also downloaded metadata for some content from the web, making it easier to browse.

The Roku is a nice device.  The lower end model is pretty cheap, making it one of those things that you could quite happily pick up without a big decision.  I’m liking it so far.

10 comments so far

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  1. Hi Aidan,
    do you have a channel list for Ireland? also would it be suitable for technophobes like my parents?

    Thanks

    • I don’t. The USA stuff isn’t on it for the most part. TV3 Player and Netflix are, as well as some online tech channels and radio. Plex is also there for streaming from a PC.

  2. Nice site Aidan!, Any idea when ROKU 3 is available here in Ireland. The Ethernet connection is a must for me.

    • The current XS has RJ45. I have one sitting under my TV. I’m asking about Roku 3 availability.

      • It appears that Roku 3 won’t be coming to Europe for at least 6 months.

  3. hi aidan,, im away to the US nxt week, will their 2xd model work if i bring one back…alot cheaper than here and with 750 channels

    • I guess so, but I don’t know for certain. The channels are probably nothing to do with where you bought it, but what IP address is used when it connects to services.

  4. can anyone tell me where to buy a roku box in ireland . i can buy one from the usa for $40 but in maplins its €79. a rip off.

    • Contact Roku to share your comments.

  5. Aidan, I hope you do not mind us mentioning that our local channel ‘vadio’ is available shortly – it can be added by code R66MR on ‘add private channel’ on computer etc

    It is essentially a channel for Newry and Mourne to show the world how boring we really truly really are in the North lol

    Thanks Aidan

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