I have a PC in my living room that rocks Windows Media Center for recording TV. The bedroom is where the Roku is located. I thought it would be oh so nice to be able to play some of my Windows Media Center recordings on the Roku. I had to find a solution for this. Here are the steps you can take to get started.
Of all professional sports, the NFL is probably the worst when it comes to providing fans with options to stream games online. The main reason for this is because of DirecTV’s exclusive deal with the NFL for rights to the games. This leaves very few options for cable cutters. There are a handful of ways to watch NFL games online though. Some of them are illegal, but I’m not going to cover that stuff that in this post since most of them require you to install a player nobody should trust. Here are a few legal options you can use for enjoying the NFL over the Net.
The Roku has amazed me with many of its features. It seemed only natural that I’d be able to connect a keyboard to its USB port and use it to navigate and type. That doesn’t work though. Nor is there a Bluetooth keyboard solution available. It’s the one missing feature that would make the Roku absolutely perfect. Typing using the standard remote control is aggravating. There are a few handy alternatives for people who absolutely must use a keyboard with their Roku.
Use your smartphone or tablet to control your Roku, right from the Roku official app. Not only does the app have a keyboard, but you can also speak commands to change the channel. Commands don’t work to call up individual movies, but it’s still a nice feature. The keyboard (and the entire app) only works vertically, which is perplexing since the keyboard would work so much smoother sideways. The Roku app is available for Android and iOS. Windows Phone users can settle for a number of third-party Roku apps.
This handy web-based app will connect to your Roku player via your home network and allow you to use the standard arrow controls as well as a keyboard. You can use the website from almost any web browser including Android’s stock browser and Safari for iOS. Just type in the IP address to your Roku on the Setting screen (the scan option didn’t work for me) and you can instantly control your Roku.
Those are the best keyboard connection solutions we could find. How do you use a keyboard with your Roku? We want to hear about it in our comments section.
After installing a PC in my living room and slapping Windows Media Center on it, I was off and running with the entertainment solution I always wanted. I didn’t think ahead though, and used a standard keyboard and mouse with it. This combo doesn’t function well in a Living Room, so I set out on a quest to find the perfect keyboard.
A month ago, I wrote about a universal remote that worked with my Roku device. I was thrilled that such a low-priced remote worked with the video streaming device. After a month of enjoying the remote, I have discovered that it works with many other devices I didn’t expect. A co-worker of mine told me she has the same Sony RM-VZ320 remote and it works great for her Apple TV box.
After reading some of the reviews on Amazon, I confirmed that many customers are using the remote on tons of unexpected devices like the Apple TV and XBox 360. I had to test this for myself. I was shocked to find that it worked just as well on Apple TV and XBox as it did for my Roku. There were a few hiccups here and there. For example, I couldn’t figure out how to back out of a screen when using Hulu Plus. Even with these types of hiccups, it may be the best remote that’s under $20, ever!
Some people may jump for one of the programmable remotes that are a little more pricey to control such devices. Those are great for some people. You can program custom buttons and put them wherever you want on the screen. But if you’re in my income bracket and don’t mind a giant remote that’s filled with buttons you’ll never use, The Sony RM-VZ320 is the way to go. Just look at all off the remote codes available for video accessories.
You can see the complete list of codes for the Sony RM-VZ320 on Sony’s website.
My favorite feature of the Roku Media Player is the USB port. You can watch MP4, M4V, and MKV video files from a USB Drive. How do you watch those files though? Here are the steps:
1. Add the Roku USB Media Player Channel. You can add it to your account via the Roku website or find it under the Music or Photos & Video categories in the Channel Store.
2. Plug the USB drive into the USB port on the Roku.
3. Open the USB Media Player channel and select “Movies”.
4. A list of videos will appear. Select the one you want to watch and enjoy.
You can use the normal Play, Pause, Forward, and Rewind buttons just as you can with most other Roku channels.
Any Netflix Instant user will tell you that the Netflix search engine is horrid. You can never find exactly what you’re looking for. The browsing capability is even worse. Many movies can only be found after scrolling for an eternity. That’s why services like Moreflicks are handy.
The new site not only provides a way to browse and search Netflix that makes more sense, it can also search Hulu, Vudu, BBC iPlayer, Fox and Crackle. It even marks the movies that are expiring soon, so you can be sure to catch those flicks you’ve been thinking of watching before they disappear.
Give it a try at Moreflicks.com.
It’s huge, ugly and emits more heat than your furnace. That old analog TV has been sitting there, unused for months. What should you do with it? Most people would give it away or throw it in the trash. I think old analog TVs still have a place in this world though. Especially when devices like the Roku work so well with it.
If your old analog TV has composite connectors, the Roku comes with everything you need. Connecting a Roku instantly makes any old analog TV a modern entertainment solution, giving you access to services like Netflix, Amazon and Hulu. Sure the picture isn’t in high definition, but if your TV can do 480i, it’s still a beautiful picture.
So find room in your kitchen, office or even your bathroom for that that giant tube that’s just been sitting around. It’s still got some years left.
Update: Since I wrote this post, the Roku 3 has since arrived. While the Roku 1 and 2 will work with an analog TV, the Roku 3 will not unless you have a converter box.
It’s sometimes difficult to identify whether or not a TV supports a digital connection. Some sets may look new enough, but only support an analog connection. So how do you know if a TV is digital?
The best way would be to Google the make and model of your TV, followed by the word “tuner”. You can usually find the make and model of your TV on a label located on the rear of the set. When searching, you should be able to find a manual or shopping page that includes the type of tuner the set has. You’re looking to ensure that the TV has a built-in Advanced Television Systems Committee (ATSC) tuner. It may also be noted as a “digital” or “HDTV” tuner.
If your TV has an ATSC tuner, you can attach an HDTV antenna and receive television over-the-air for free or, if your cable company supports it, attach an incoming cable connection.
If your TV does not have an ATSC tuner, you will need to obtain a digital converter box to convert the signal from digital to analog to watch digital channels. You can then attach an antenna or incoming cable to the converter box to receive your channels. Cable users may want to check with their cable provider to see what options they have. Many cable companies provide converter boxes to their customers.
Hopefully with these steps, you have found out if your TV supports a digital connection and you’re well on your way to kicking back and watching some shows. Happy watching!
Header photo by Jeff Golden via Creative Commons.
Remember the days when MTV was actually a music television channel? Music videos would play night and day. You’d get to see what your favorite bands looked like while they expressed themselves via an additional artistic outlet. It was great! These days though, MTV is a reality TV network. VH1 has also followed suit, leaving very few options for viewers such as myself to fulfill their music video fix.
Enter YouTube, a place where you can find almost any music video. Sorting through the choppy videos and the fake crap people post can make it difficult to find the official release versions of music videos though. Fortunately, VEVO can be counted on to always have official music videos available. You can search YouTube for almost any music video you’d like along with the keyword “vevo” to find the official versions of your favorite music videos as well as live performances released by your favorite artists.
Once you find a few music videos you like, use YouTube’s playlist feature to save your favorite music videos. A music video playlist is the perfect solution to an evening when you can’t find anything to watch or to just have on for background entertainment. Just use these steps:
1. Login to YouTube. You’ll need an official account to build a playlist.
2. Search for your favorite artist or song name followed by the word “vevo“. VEVO doesn’t have every video made, so there are certain times when using the term “official video” will work better.
3. Select the video from the list. From the video page, you can select Add to then select an existing playlist, or enter a new playlist name, then select Create playlist.
Now any time you wish to watch music videos, visit your YouTube Playlists and enjoy!