For those of you who own a Roku, you probably noticed a brand new channel posted in the Roku channel store recently – Plex. You probably didn’t give it much thought, or you noticed that you had to install something on your home computer/server before getting to use it – so you didn’t. That was a mistake. You should install Plex on your computer right away and get started. The Roku Plex Channel is updated frequently and has been improved greatly in recent months. Also, the Plex server was originally BEST on a Mac, HOWEVER this has changed and a lot of work has been put into the Windows version of the Plex Server (currently 0.9.6.2). Also, it’s FREE!
A list of content that Plex provides to the Roku:
- HD Wifi Streaming available upto 1080p (personally only test 720p 4K/sec). Quality set on Roku Plex Channel
- Local Video/Music/Photo manager for your Roku to stream from your server/computer.
- PBS Content
- CBS Content
- Food Network
- and many others…
Many of these content providers you add directly from the Plex channel on the Roku. Of course, this is after you followed the ridiculously simple Plex Server setup on your home computer and have updated your Silverlight and Flash plugins.
Plex is updated openly from public developers and, for now, is Free. Also, it allows public developers to develop their own channels, which contributes to its great libraries.
In the past, many Roku users were disillusioned by the too good to be true announcement by Playon that Playon had a channel on the Roku. After Roku “disallowed” the channel last year, the future of Playon for the Roku was in limbo. Also, Playon requires a paid subscription ($49.99/yr) service to use it’s media server for online content (such as CBS, youtube, hulu). Playon also does NOT stream in HD. Although m
ost content listed above is only in SD (HGTV, Food Network), local media could only be streamed at SD as well. As far as Playon goes for the Roku, it’s a miss by comparison to the Free HD streaming Plex Media Server.
Also, you can buy the Plex channel for iPad/iPhone for about $3 and use your wireless device to stream content. As for now, this is the only purchase necessary for Plex benefits outside of the Roku.
I should also note that, even though Hulu is a channel on Plex, it’s maintained by independent developers. Hulu has always been elusive for third parties (such as Boxee and others) to stream and manipulate Hulu videos. Plex is not different. You won’t see HD quality or too much stability in the Plex Hulu plugin, considering that Hulu actively works to prevent this sort of streaming. I still recommend using Roku’s Hulu+ service instead as it is way better and still cheap.
So if you’re wondering how to get other online content on the Roku, go with Plex.