Roku Stick
#271 Henry, Tuesday, 16 June 2015 10:11 PM (Category: Gadgets)
(Tags: roku dlna)

I had a coupon for Best Buy, and I had a left over gift card at Best Buy, and I wanted to use them up. I wandered the aisles for hours, looking at DVDs and CDs and gadgets. It came down to Bluetooth speakers for my iPhone (a complete waste of money) or a Roku Stick (a venture into the unknown).

In the end I bought the Roku Stick and it cost me $5 in cash. It looks like a Chromecast, and it acts like a Chromecast, but it has a bluetooth remote control with it. The remote control is bigger than the Roku Stick.

The stick plugs into a HDMI port on the TV, and to power it you connect the stick to the TV via a USB cable. If the TV doesn't have USB, they supply a USB power adapter. It powers up, you connect it to your wifi network and you are up and running. Except you have to supply a credit card in case you buy anything from the store. You aren't going to get anything working till you supply this credit card. I very nearly pulled it out at this point, but came back a few hours later and very ungraciously supplied my credit card details.

You get a few standard channels. One is Netflix so I connected it to my Netflix account and that worked quite well. I experimented with the free channels and that was all fine too, but a bit limited. The other channels that cost money, or need an account to work, they didn't interest me.

These devices are not there to be charities. They are there to make money for someone else. They are designed to allow you to connect to someone else and pay for the privilege of consuming media. They are not really in the business of giving you free access to your own collections. They want you to stream or subscribe or buy on a regular basis. I do not want that.

Then a thought hit me. Does it have a DLNA browser built-in? I did quick research and installed the free channel Roku Media Player. Even though Roku don't say anything about it, it really is a DLNA browser. It saw my new DLNA server and it let me browse and watch. Awesome. It looks a little prettier than the built-in DLNA browser in my TV, but that doesn't matter. I now have two ways to access my DLNA server, and both work as well as the other.

So currently I am using the Roku Stick to access Netflix (occasionally), and to access my DLNA server (almost all the time).

I have completely bypassed the Apple TV to iTunes chain. I still use the Apple TV for some stuff that I stream to my iPad and then Airplay to the Apple TV so I'm not going to get rid of the Apple TV. It still has its uses.

And I still have a Google Chromecast in a cupboard somewhere. It does much the same as the Roku Stick, but it doesn't have a remote control. I should get rid of it now.