It's difficult to tell from the marketing materials, but can I send it basically any video from my computer? My current issue with Chromecast is that I have to send it through the Chrome browser and I'd prefer to use VLC or something that just plays every format.
I use Plex and it lets me stream everything I have tried. I haven't bothered to look into formats because it just worked.
Perhaps I'm just hopelessly antiquated, but the absence of a wired Ethernet port feels like a substantial downgrade to me. WiFi's fine if that's your jam, and I welcome it as an option, but I don't want it replacing a reliable wired connection.
To the question of broad file support, the answer is a huge NO. Roku is deliberately crippled in this regard. Plex is a workaround that transcodes as needed.
If you want a media player that respects its owner, get a WD TV Live. It can access files via a network connection or USB drive or stick.
And just to make the Roku more fun, you can't even start it up without putting in a credit card number.
Just checked out Popcorn Time, as per your comment. I guess that's no longer an option.
If you've got an Android phone you should have a look at the Allcast app. It's an extra hassle to first copy video files from your computer to your phone, but once there they stream much better through Allcast than from the Chrome browser on your PC.
That sounds like it is exactly what I'm looking for. We have a Roku 1 and while it's worked really well it's time to stream things off the innernets and be able to play home movies on the TV. The five year old keeps asking why not and I don't have a good answer as to why this screen here can do it and that screen over there can't.
Yeah, I'm a big WD TV fan as well. It doesn't play everything, but it's gracefully handled the vast majority of codecs and container formats I've thrown at it.
And it has Ethernet, because I'm a coot!
Yeah, I just don't have the time or space to copy movies to the phone. I have the patience but the children are just going to wander off.
You are right. I removed the reference to it. Thanks. Sad. What a great app.
Thumbs up on the WDTV, if it didn't exist I would have had to roll my own HTPC a long time ago. It also supports homebrew firmware.
I agree about how closed the Roku is, but the credit card bit is not entirely true. You need a CC for automatic registration, but you can call Roku to register your box without a credit card.
I only use my Roku for streaming Prime, otherwise it's WDTV all the way...
As for wired vs. wireless, if you are trying to watch 1080p with a high bitrate over wifi, your life will become a living hell of buffering and frozen video...
I like my Chromecast, but I hate how huge a lag there is sometimes between me tapping "pause" on my android or iPad and Netflix actually pausing. Sometimes it even fails to reconnect, and I have to turn off my TV to take a bio break. Seems like the Roku's remote probably wouldn't have that problem.
The lack of audio out negates this product for me. Alternatively, the remote's audio out on the full scale roku3 is something I'm really interested in and would have made me upgrade.
But in the end, I'm waiting for a solution that can natively run a browser on my tv. From what I understand, the best solutions right now are wonky pass through apps.... for either Roku or Chromecast??
USB drive or stick
That's the deal-killer for me.
Streaming from a device like a tablet or laptop to the TV is for the birds except in some circumstances when I just want to show someone a YouTube video or something and don't want to bother downloading the file to a portable USB drive or USB stick first. But, in this day and age to constantly stream entire films from a device like a PC, tablet or smartphone to another gadget that is connected to a TV is a waste of electricity and wears out your (probably expensive) "streaming" host device for no good reason.
I use media players that have a file browser, a remote control and (vital) have a USB port and play a wide range of video formats. If I want to use my tablet as a remote control and for text input I can if it's handy, but the little remote does just fine and the batteries last months.
With this setup I copy HD movies to a USB drive or stick from wherever I want and most of the wear and tear, resources and electricity isn't being drained from my tablet, laptop, etc. just to watch a movie.
What this little Roku and Chromecast needs is a usb port on the end of them or somewhere to allow me to plug a portable USB drive and/or USB stick in them. I still want the wifi so I can remote control it with a basic file browser and also have it be able to stream YouTube videos directly from the Internet, Netflix as well, etc. and still stream from video files on my PC, tablet, etc. on the occasions I want to do that.
Wait a sec, I already have a custom media player that does that... Nevermind.
Of course, the ultimate setup is it does all of the above stuff I mentioned but can also search, acquire and download torrents directly to the media player - but you have to make a custom setup for something like that. AFAIK, you can't buy anything like that off the shelf (someone correct me if I'm wrong).
Edit: I can think of one nice use for a little streaming guy like that Roku or Chromecast. Use them for elaborate pranks on public TVs and broadcast crazy shit. If you have to leave the device you aren't out that much money. Then again, if these devices don't mesh, I guess that's off the table as well unless there's a fast, open wifi or you know the password to a fast wifi hotspot on the premises.
It's back....for now. http://popcorn.cdnjd.com/
The original developers shut down but it was branched off to an open source project on GitHub. The previous version still works and you can still find the original installer online.
Until the film industry gets its act together, that's never going to go away completely. The only problem I have with popcorn is I'm not sure if it can use blocklists or not. I don't see it mentioned anywhere in their FAQ, etc. If that's the case, unless you've got a kick ass, fast VPN to run that thing through, it's similar to being a wide-open bonehead and running an LOIC from your home computer.
Also no mention of encryption either with popcorn. If I didn't know any better, it kind of seems like a honeypot app. No offense to the devs, of course. But, I wouldn't use that shit until encryption and blocklists are addressed. Then again, you could probably implement blocklists in other ways with another app that's a condom wrapped around popcorn or one that fitzes with your hosts files, etc. - but that's jumping through unnecessary hoops and using up more resources than necessary as well, etc.
Ah. Excellent. I have it where I need it
It does leave you exposed and vulnerable to IP tracking if you're not careful. There are no settings to configure so no encryption options. I use Private Internet Access VPN for $40/year and haven't had any trouble with speed or service.
I built an XBMC htpc with a Raspberry Pi and use OpenVPN for torrents. I can get just about any content I need but Popcorn Time is just so simple and easy.