Conquering the Roku

A few months ago, I heard someone mention a Roku for the first time. I hadn’t heard of the device, but the rave reviews that mention inspired piqued my curiosity. I started to wonder if the little box might be the answer to eliminating my satellite bill.

So I read about it and thought about it and finally decided to take the plunge. Roku offers three models, starting at $60. I went all out and purchased the XD|S model for $100. I was going to purchase it directly from the Roku website, but realized I would avoid the $10 shipping fee by buying it through Amazon.

My new Roku arrived a few days later and I was anxious to get it set up, especially since set-up is only supposed to take 5 minutes. Well, let’s just say it took me a bit longer. At first I was having difficulty getting the Roku to connect to my local network. When I finally got it to connect to the local network, it didn’t want to connect to the internet.

After searching on-line for some answers, I finally got the Roku to connect by:

  1. Pressing the reset button for about a minute to get it to restart twice
  2. Turning off power to my modem and wireless router, then turning it back on after about 20 seconds
  3. Trying to connect again…that got me connected to the local network
  4. Repeat steps 2 and 3…that got me connected to the internet!

Don’t give up. Once it’s up and running, it’s great!

I signed up for Netflix for the first time (be sure to get the free month trial) and easily activated my account on my Roku. Netflix offers tons of movies to stream for about $8 a month, or for $10 a month you can also have DVDs mailed to you for a larger selection of titles. The Netflix programming streams great for me with good picture quality.

I also signed up for Hulu Plus to be able to watch current seasons of television shows for $8 a month (google around for special offers–you should be able to get two weeks free). The first show I tried to watch (an episode of “The Event”) was interrupted a couple of times with a message about connection being lost, but the third “retry” was a charm and it streamed fine, with good picture quality. I was disappointed to find commercials (agh!) inserted into the episodes and to discover that not all current shows are available for streaming and must be watched on-line.

I’m also considering signing up for Amazon Prime. It is $79/year, but you get unlimited, free 2-day shipping (which is great if you shop on Amazon a lot like I do) and now you can stream 5,000 titles instantly on your Roku! I haven’t taken the plunge yet, but I anticipate adding it to my channels in the near future. All three of these services, at approximately $25/month, is less than a third of my cost of satellite.

Roku also offers a number of free channels. So far it’s been my experience that the picture quality isn’t as good and I get more connection interruptions with the free channels than I do with Netflix, but they’re still acceptable. Plus, Pandora is one of the stations!

I don’t get great reception with antennas in my house, so the one thing I’m really going to miss right now is the local news. Do any of you Roku users have suggestions for that? Or maybe I should invest in having a large roof-top antenna installed? Hmm….

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