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What is Roku? How does Roku Work?

Lately, I have been getting questions regarding the fundamentals of cord cutting. I’ve since realized there isn’t much information out there for folks who don’t have the time to dig through tech articles looking for a way to watch TV without cable. With that in mind, I decided to put together a post covering every facet of every version of the Roku streaming device.


What is Roku?

Simply put, Roku allows you to watch free and paid video content on your TV via the Internet. TV and Movie streaming services like Netflix, Amazon, Hulu, Sling TV, YouTube and more are loaded on the Roku similar to how apps are loaded onto a smartphone. While the majority of the content is prerecorded, services like Hulu allow a lot of content to be viewed just one day after its initial airing on television. Furthermore, apps like Sling TV allow content to be viewed live as it airs.

While Roku enhances cable and satellite TV, by adding a wellspring of on-demand content; I recommend both a Roku device and a TV antenna to provide an experience that eliminates the need for cable TV.

While it sounds like something to replace Zumba as the latest exercise craze, the “Roku box” (as some call it) is the easiest way to stream video to your television. Roku is a 6-inch square device for your television used to watch movies and TV shows through apps that are also referred to as channels. For those looking to buy a new television, a Roku TV has all the function of a Roku built into a quality TV.

When Roku came out in 2008, the only streaming service available was Netflix. Since then, streaming internet TV has enjoyed widespread adoption. Today, there is very little content available on Cable TV that you can’t stream with a Roku and watch on your TV.

Starting October 8th, 2017, Roku is offering the following 5 streaming devices. There are three set-top streaming boxes, the Roku Ultra, Roku Express and Express+. Then there are two sticks, the Roku Streaming Stick and Roku Streaming Stick Plus.

Roku has not only unleashed a deluge of streaming devices, but also some new functionality available in the Roku operating System. Furthermore, two of the devices support High Dynamic Range (HDR) video on HDR compatible TVs. You can read about HDR video in this article. In a nutshell, it greatly improves picture quality through increased brightness and color ranges.

All new Roku devices are currently available on Amazon. Let’s go over the differences between each version so you can see which one is right for you.
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Roku Comparison

Before I compare the differences of each Roku streaming device, let’s cover what they have in common. The most important of which is the Roku OS software on each Roku box is the same. This means you will have the same channel availability and user experience no matter which Roku device you choose. I’ll cover the Roku OS features later in the article.

In addition to the Roku OS user interface, Roku boxes have the following features in common:

  • Each Roku version has access to over 3,000 channels
  • All Roku boxes can connect to the TV via an HDMI cable (not included)
  • All Roku devices fully support 1080p HD video.
  • All Roku devices can be controlled with the free Roku Mobile App
  • Each Roku also supports wireless internet connections in 802.11 (b/g/n)
  • While each Roku comes with a remote control.

I’ll cover these features in more detail in a moment, but first, let me describe the differences between each Roku version.

New Roku Streaming Stick

While Roku still offers The Roku Express and Ultra (I cover later in this article), the company has recently put a lot of effort into their line of Roku Streaming Sticks. They weigh less than an ounce and simply plug into the back of your TV’s HDMI port.

The standard Roku Stick is priced at $49.99, and offers all the functionality above, and includes a voice search enabled remote that has power and volume control that will work with your TV. This stick also adds support for 802.11ac wireless.

The Roku Streaming Stick Plus is available for $69.99 and offers HDR and 4K  video at 60 frames per second. It also boasts more Wi-Fi range. These functions are in addition to what you will receive with a standard Roku Streaming Stick. Check out my Roku Streaming Stick Review for details.

Why should you get the Roku Streaming Stick?

If you just want to stream at a good value, then the Roku Streaming Stick is a good choice.

Roku Ultra

The Roku Ultra is priced at $99 and is the top tier Roku devices.  It has the most powerful processor of any of the new Roku devices. It also includes the following functionality:

USB Storage – The Roku Ultra allows its USB port to play video from an external hard drive. Roku Ultra supports FAT16, FAT32, NTFS, and HFS+ drive formats.

Optical Audio – This will allow you to connect your Roku Ultra to your home audio system.

Voice Remote – Search for titles of your favorite TV shows and Movies without typing. Simply hit the voice search button and say the title.  While experimenting with voice search, Roku was able to find well-known movies and TV shows about 90% of the time.

Remote Finder – Press the button on top of the Roku Ultra and your remote will begin beeping alerting you to its location. This function is a necessity in my house.

Gaming Buttons – If you game with your Roku, the Remote that comes with the Ultra includes gaming buttons to use. Just turn the remote sideways

Roku Ultra Specifications

The Roku Ultra comes with the Roku Advanced remote with batteries, headphones for private listening, a USB cable, and power adapter. In addition to the exclusive functionality already mentioned, the Roku Ultra also does the following:

  • 802.11ac MIMO dual-band wireless
  • 10/100 Base-T Ethernet
  • 720p, 1080p, and 4K UHD with HDR video at 60 frames per second
  • Night listening mode
  • MicroSD card slot for additional channel storage
  • Advanced point anywhere remote with voice search, headphone jack, and gaming buttons
  • IR receiver for universal remotes
  • Dolby Audio pass-through via HDMI

Who Should Purchase the Roku Ultra

If you are looking for any of the exclusive functions offered by the Roku Ultra then it’s the obvious choice. Those looking to upgrade your older Roku should also look at the Roku Ultra.  Otherwise, unless you want the added processing power the Ultra offers, then you may want to consider a Roku Streaming Stick.

Roku Express and Express+

These new devices from Roku are the entry-level products from Roku. The only difference between these two devices is the Roku Express+ comes with composite A/V Cables for older televisions. Those are the older red, white, and yellow cables that were prevalent prior to the advent HDMI.

Therefore, the Roku Express+ supports the older 480i video standard. However, that backward compatibility will cost an extra $10 as the Roku Express retails at $29.99 and the Express+ for $39.99.

Both the Express and Express+ come with, the Roku Standard IR Remote with channel shortcut buttons, two AAA batteries, a removable adhesive strip for mounting, a High-Speed HDMI cable, a power adapter & micro USB cable (for power). The Express+ also includes a Composite A/V cable (red/white/yellow).

While the Express and Express+ do not support Ethernet, they do support the Wi-Fi and are b/g/n compatible.  They also support WEP, WPA, and WPA2 wireless security. Both support 720p and 1080p video and Dolby Audio pass-through via HDMI.

Who Should Purchase the Roku Express or Express+

If you have an older TV without an HDMI port, then the Roku Express+ is your only option as it supports the older component A/V cables. Otherwise, the Roku Express is perfect for those that want a wireless streaming device with no frills.

The Express works best as a stationary streaming device.  If you plan on moving your device around to multiple TV’s or want to take your Roku with you when traveling, I would recommend the Roku Streaming Stick.

Keep in mind that these devices cap out at 1080p video resolution. If you want 4k Video, I’d recommend one of the higher tier Roku devices.

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How Roku Works

Roku plugs into your TV using an HDMI cable, connected from your TV to the Roku device. The Roku is then connected to the internet via a wired or wireless connection to your home network.

Roku works by downloading video from the internet, you then watch on your TV. The video doesn’t need to be saved as it’s watched as Roku downloads or “streams” the video. Apps or “channels” are programs you load onto your Roku device that provide you with various movies and TV shows. This works much like installing apps on a smartphone or tablet.

With the exception of a few, most channels are providing TV shows that are recorded and not live. However, channels like Hulu provide many current TV shows just one day after the live airing.

In most cases, the shows are recorded, stored by the channel provider and streamed to your Roku. This differs from the live TV experience you receive with cable TV. However, with a Roku and the right channels, you can watch a majority of your favorite shows. You just watch one day later.

The Roku gives you the power to decide what shows you want to watch and when you want to watch them, so it’s essentially watching TV as if everything is on-demand. Since Roku greatly expands your on-demand options, you may even want one to supplement your cable subscription instead of replacing it. I’ll go into more detail on that later in the guide.

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Which Channels Does Roku Have?

They have come a long way in 7 years. Since 2008, Roku has gone from one channel to over 3000 channels. Broadcast networks like Fox, ABC, CBS, and NBC can be seen on Roku’s Hulu or CBS All Access channels.

The Sling TV channel provides access to various top cable TV networks like AMC, ESPN, TBS, HGTV, HBO, and much more. I tend to get many people asking if they can watch lifetime on Roku without cable. Sling TV gives you that option. Sling TV is unique, as it shows live TV as if you were watching it on cable TV. For more information on this, check out my Sling TV review.

Update: On September 6th, 2017, Roku released The Roku Channel which offers movies and TV for free.

At first, I thought this many options would be overwhelming, but that isn’t the case. You choose which channels are available on Roku. Only a handful of the most popular channels come already installed on the device.

Here are some other examples of other top Channels available on Roku:

Movies and TV: Netflix, Hulu TV, Amazon Instant Video, Sling TV, VUDU, M-GO, Disney, PBS, HBO GO, Crackle TV, PBS, Google Play Store and more

News: CBS News, Fox News, Sky News, The Blaze, Weather Nation, and more

Sports: MLB.TV, NBA League Pass, NHL Game Center, NFL Now, WatchESPN, WWE Network, UFC Online, and more

Internet: YouTube, Break, Vimeo and countless niche channels

Plex: Roku supports Plex Media Server with an official Plex channel. I recommend picking it up if you are interested in streaming your own media. It’s easily the best way to view personal content on a Roku device.

Aside from video content, there are a plethora of music Roku channels to choose from like Pandora, Spotify, and Slacker. There aren’t enough hours in the day to enjoy all the available content on Roku’s numerous channels. Check out this link for more information on the top Roku channels.

How To Add Channels To Roku

Installing channels on Roku is easy. From the Home, Menu scroll down to “Streaming Channels” and click the purple “OK” button on the remote.

This navigates you to the Roku Channel Store (don’t worry, most are free to install). As you can see by the picture below; there are numerous options to find channels.

You can use “Search Channels” to search by typing in a search term or use any of the other search options available. Once you find a channel navigate to it with the arrow keys on the remote and press the purple “OK” button. From there the channel will install and be available on your home screen.

It’s as easy as installing an app on a smartphone.

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Roku OS Features

Roku OS is the user interface available on all Roku versions. Some of the following functions are not available on all versions. I’ll let you know when that is the case. Roku OS provides cross-platform search, voice search, and other software features.

Cross-Platform Search

This feature is available on all versions. When you search for an actor or title, it searches about 20 apps and tells you which apps have the show available. Furthermore, Roku indicates whether you have free access to it through a subscription, or have to rent or purchase the program.

As of this post Roku cross-platform search supports Acorn TV, Amazon Video, Blockbuster On Demand, CBS All Access, CinemaNow, Crackle, Fox Now, FX Now, HBO GO, Hulu, M-GO, Met Opera On Demand, Nat Geo TV, Netflix, Popcorn Flix, SnagFilms, STARZ PLAY, Time Warner Cable, Tubi TV, and Vudu.

Voice Search

The voice search functionality is top notch. It’s only available through the remote that comes with the Roku Ultra. While experimenting with voice search, my Roku was able to find well-known movies and TV shows about 90% of the time.

I found when issues occurred; it was due to the way the movie is titled as opposed to Roku understanding my voice. For example, I would say “The Avengers”, but the live-action blockbuster could not be found. However, if I said “Marvel’s The Avengers”, Roku knew exactly what I wanted.

Roku My Feed

Available on all Roku versions, “My Feed” is a feature that allows you to organize the content you watch on your Roku. Simply follow your favorite show and Roku will let you know when a new episode is available. Say goodbye to having to check various apps to see if the new episode of your favorite TV show is now available.

The Roku App

The free Roku mobile app is a great app that I recommend every Roku owner download from iTunes or Google Play Store. All the power of the Roku operating system is available in the app.

You can search by voice or text, access “My Feed”, and install apps on your Roku by using the new Roku app. Voice search is possible through the app on all versions. If you aren’t a fan of the voice search or typing long search strings with the remote, the Roku app gives you access to a full keyboard.

Currently, your mobile device needs to be in proximity of the Roku to access “My Feed.” However, Roku has indicated that they are looking to make the functionality available when you are away from home.

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Roku Cost Per Month

Technically Roku costs nothing per month. You can enjoy free content from channels like YouTube, Pandora, PBS, PBS Kids, Hasbro, Crackle TV, VEVO, Crunchyroll, Popcornflix, Smithsonian and many others. However, premium content like Netflix, HBO, and Sling TV require a subscription.

To truly replace cable TV, one would need to purchase one or two paid subscriptions to enjoy current TV shows, but it’s not mandatory. To get an idea of what the paid subscriptions offer I put together an article on which streaming services are best for you.

It’s entirely possible to purchase a Roku, and just watch free content and not pay anything per month. There are even free special interest channels. For instance, “Allrecipes” features instructional videos on cooking various recipes. Netfit provides just about any workout video you would need.

Then there is everyone’s favorite free channel, Crackle. Crackle provides quality TV and movies for free. Currently, you can watch seasons of Chosen, Seinfeld, The Shield, and many other amazing shows. You could also kick back and watch a movie.

Right now Crackle is running Bruno, The Fifth Element, Hitch and about 40 other movies. Crackle is continuously cycling TV shows and movies, providing fresh content for viewers. For more information, check out my review of Crackle TV.

Smart TV vs Roku

Not a week goes by where someone doesn’t ask me, “Do I need a smart TV to cut the cord?” Unless you are talking about purchasing a Roku TV, then I would say No.  Roku is specifically designed to stream TV and Movies from the Internet to your TV. That’s where the people who make Roku focus 100% of their efforts. Streaming is a secondary feature for most TV manufacturers.

This is apparent in almost every Smart TV I’ve looked at. The “smart” interface always feels clunky when compared to a streaming device, and none have the amount of content available with a Roku device.

Furthermore, it’s much cheaper to upgrade a Roku than it would be a smart TV. If streaming technology were to change in the next few years, getting the next generation of Roku device would be much cheaper than buying a new television.

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Roku Vs Cable

While Roku can replace cable TV, it’s a different viewing experience. Cable TV is a passive viewing activity. You sit down and flip channels until something grabs your attention. It’s almost as cable convinces you to watch something.

The Roku experience is much different. It’s an active viewing experience. The content is on individual channels that you’ve selected to be on your Roku. It’s a much more personalized way to watch TV and movies.

You seek out what you want to watch. Never again will you have the awful realization that hours of your life are now missing due to stumbling upon an “I love the 90’s” marathon.

Granted there are some things you will need to research a bit if you want to replace them on Roku. For example, you can watch ESPN without cable. However, it will involve a subscription to Sling TV. Largely, all the quality TV you can watch on cable is available with Roku.

When we had Comcast, we would typically watch the major TV networks like Fox, NBC, ABC, CBS along with shows on AMC and FX. Roku can provide all this content and more half the cost of our cable bill.

Does Roku Require Internet?

This is one of the many questions I receive regarding internet access from people interested in getting rid of cable. To stream any content you will need an internet connection. Internal storage for movies and TV isn’t included with Roku or any of the other top streaming devices like Apple TV, Amazon Fire, or Chromecast.

These devices require an internet connection to operate. Unfortunately, that’s still going to require your existing cable TV provider. However, it’s much cheaper to have an internet only plan. Especially once you factor in all the hidden fees that come with a cable bundle. We were able to get a high-speed connection at 50 Mbps for a little over $50 per month.

As for how fast your internet needs to be, the following is a decent guide for various content:

  • Standard Definition – 2 Mbps
  • High Definition in 720p – 5 Mbps
  • High Definition in 1080p – 9 Mbps
  • High Definition in 1080p in 3D – 12 Mbps

If you are interested in knowing more about the bandwidth needed for your internet connection check out this section in my main guided entitled Internet Speed to Stream TV.

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How Does Roku Work with Cable

Roku also packs a lot of benefit for those looking to keep their cable subscription. Almost every major cable network has their channels available on Roku. If you subscribe to a cable provider these channels will allow you to log in with your cable provider username and password and provide you with loads of content online.

Having a Roku with your cable subscription seems odd because in most cases the cable subscription is just for the access to the networks. Why use the clunky on demand the cable company offers when you can simply watch networks like HGTV on Roku.

The Roku version of the cable channels typically has more content available, and it’s better organized. The majority of the people I know that have a Roku and a cable subscription to 90% of their TV viewing through Roku while the cable box sits and collects dust.

In many cases, a Roku an immediate way to cancel the DVR portion of your cable subscription as you can simply stream these shows whenever you want through your Roku. When I had cable, my DVR was costing us about $20 per month. This alone makes the Roku pay for itself in about 4-5 months. You can use that time to see if the Roku can replace your cable subscription entirely.

Roku + DVR + Antenna = No Cable Bill

This combination is cord cutter utopia. Roku provides a way to watch most of the shows you will find on cable (along with a lot more). However, unless you subscribe to Hulu and CBS All Access you may have to wait up to a week to watch the latest network shows on NBC, Fox, ABC, and CBS etc. This is where adding an Antenna and DVR will fill in any gaps you may have.

Over the Air DVR or OTA DVR, allow you to connect a TV antenna to record any content you want. While a TV antenna may seem archaic, I can guarantee that modern digital TV has a higher quality picture with an antenna. I installed a Mohu Sky and the NFL has never looked better.

Once you have all your local broadcast networks being received through an antenna the OTA DVR can record all the shows you want to watch. Now you have your own on-demand system in your own home. DVRs like Tablo, allow you to watch those shows on mobile devices even when you are away from home.

The best OTA DVR with full guide functionality can cost around $400. While the DVR is pricey, it’s typically no more than 2-3 cable bills. It will easily save you money in the long run. Keep in mind; this is a fully loaded cord cutting solution. Most people, including myself, get by with simply a streaming device and a TV antenna.

Other Frequently Asked Questions

Here are the answers to other questions people usually ask about Roku.

How to Jailbreak Roku?

This question comes up often. I even covered it in my article that explains what jailbreaking is. This is due to the buzz around the topic of jailbreaking an Amazon Fire TV Stick. First, there is really no such thing as jailbreaking a Fire TV Stick (read the article to see why.)  Second, when people talk about jailbreaking and streaming devices they usually mean installing a product like Kodi to add a lot of flexibility to their streaming device. Unfortunately, Kodi isn’t supported on Roku.

What Channels are Free on Roku?

There are thousands of channels on Roku, way too many to list here. However, check out this post on my favorite free Roku Channels.
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Categories: Guides
Dennis Restauro :Dennis is the founder of Grounded Reason. He also hosts the Grounded Reason Podcast. Follow him on Twitter: Follow Dennis on Twitter

View Comments (205)

  • We have two TVs. One is the main TV the other is in the kid's playroom and mainly used for videos. We are researching services and equipment before doing a Direct TV disconnect. Sling TV appears to be a good choice for us as it has most of the content we are interested in watching. We have purchased an OTA indoor antenna and are trying to decide on the best device for us to stream content. We support an out of market NFL team and will purchase NFL game Pass.

    Some questions:
    - Do we need or can we use a Roku 3 on one TV and stick on the other?
    - Can you access NFL Game Pass on Roku?
    - Can you access NFL team or other web sites on Roku?
    - Is Mohu Channels a better option?
    - Can you access NFL Game Pass on the Mohu?
    - Are we able to sync our LG TV and sound bar to the remotes on these devises?

    Thanks for the all the useful information found at your site.

    • Hi Dave! Thanks for reading.

      Currently Apple TV and Xbox have been announced as supporting NFL Game Pass for 2015, although they plan to announce more soon. You will need a streaming device for each TV, so you may want to get the Apple TV, then sigh up for the 3 months of Sling TV deal where you get a free streaming stick. I wouldn't get a Mohu Channels over the Roku 3 or the Apple TV. They are versatile, however they aren't very user friendly. Mohu Channels should work with any app available on the Google Play store, so Game Pass should work in theory, but I haven't tested it. As for your sound-bar, if it's working as your TV audio then it shouldn't be a problem. It should play any audio supplied to the TV.

  • Thanks for all the very useful information. But what about the (very expensive) functionality you can get with DirectTV or Comcast, like recording multiple shows at the same time, playing them back from any TV in the house? Scheduling the recording of a series?

    • Tablo has a 2 tuner and 4 tuner version. It will stream to all tvs in the house as well as remotely if you pay $5 per month guide fee or annual or lifetime options available. Made in North America. Requires a hard drive and antenna.

    • Thanks for stopping by Bob. For those that can satisfy there TV needs with streaming service, the DVR may seem unneeded. For instance, If all my shows are covered by Hulu and CBS All Access I can just fire up a current show whenever I want. With cable series like the Walking Dead Sling TV gives you the past few episodes to watch at your leisure. However, Sling can only allows one stream at a time. You can watch Sling TV on any TV but just not at the same time on 1 account. If you decide to buy current seasons of shows from Amazon or iTunes you can watch those however you want. If you want a bit more information, check out this guide on watching TV without cable.

  • help me understand the cost of getting network access so I can cut the cord completely. I cannot use an exterior antenna due to the housing codes where I live. I want ABC, CBS, NBC, ect. I would also like USA, AMC, HBO along with velocity and the food network. I don't want to have to download episodes, I want to stream current episodes. I wish to buy a dvr and cut the cord completely using only high speed internet. Can you advise?

    • USA is the only one that will be tough. Comcast owns them and they are very opposed to Sling TV. Which shows do you watch? It's possible to buy current seasons of shows directly from Amazon and iTunes. For more information on DVRs for your antenna I recommend Tablo in this article.

  • All the info is great but can make your head spin, please help. I want to cut the cord completely. I understand I will need an internet provider. Beyond that, it gets cumbersome with multiple services, devices, channel availability, etc. I need ABC, CBS, NBC, and FOX. I also need ESPN, AMC, and a kids channel or two (i.e. Disney channel). Most shows I have no problem watching a day or two later. But things like MLB games, NFL games (esp. Super Bowl), Sportscenter, and Walking Dead I would need to watch live (or as soon as they premiere). I have 2 televisions which seems to further complicate things. Also, I cannot mount an antennae outside my house. Any help and or info would be great. Thank you.

  • Hello Dennis!
    Thank you first off for your very informative article. My family is in the beginning stages of cord cutting, and I've got a couple of questions we are having trouble finding answers to. We have a Roku2, internet router and antenna. We've so far subscribed with Sling TV. Our questions are: Where can we access channels such as Animal Planet and Discovery as it appears Sling doesn't carry them. Also, what do we need to have DVR capabilities for recording live programming such as football, local news, etc.
    Thanks in advance for your help!

    • Check out the DVR without cable article for information on the DVR. Any option in there can record channels from your antenna. As for Discovery, they are still not available to non cable subscribers. However, If you are interested in particular shows, you could buy the current seasons on Amazon or iTunes.

  • I am thinking on buying a Roku 3but I have an older 52 TV that does not have HDMI. Will the roku work with my tv?

    • The Roku 1 supports the composite red, yellow, white A/V cables, and you can still buy it new.

  • I am locked into Comcast for another 1 1/2 years, but am looking for a better interface for Netflix, Pandora, YouTube, etc. So with a Roku 3 & my Comcast subscription I will get access to AMC, HBO, ESPN, & other premium channels? How long are the shows available for streaming (like PBS Newshour, Walking Dead, etc) after they air and is FF available?


    • With a Comcast subscription you have access to all the TV Everywhere apps on the Roku platform. These apps require a cable login to use. All the major cable networks provide them with the subscription. The amount of on demand content vary with each one, but it's typically quite a bit.

  • Would someone have access to The Golf Channel through Sling TV? If not, would it be available another way?

  • I have an old TV - no HDMI cable. My understanding is that I would need to get an Roku 1 or an old version of Roku 2. I want to keep basic cable for the local channels and use the Roku for Sling.TV, Amazon Prime, Netflix and MLB.TV. I am not sure which Roku would work best for me.

    I do like the idea of being able to connect through an ethernet cord as an option.

    Thank you.

    • The Roku 1 has AV component cables, so that should work on many older TVs.

  • Great overview of Roku, but I would make one correction:

    My Roku Streaming Stick does not work with my Logitech Harmony IR universal remote. I have to use the Roku remote to control the Roku.

    The only things my IR remote does is turn the TV and Roku on and off, select input, and control volume. I was not able to program the Harmony remote to control the Roku.

    • Dave, you are correct. I meant to note that and forgot. Thank you for bringing it to my attention. The correction has been made.

  • Golf Channel is also available on the Roku's private channel "XTV", along with NFL Now, NBCSN, and a slew of PAC 12 choices. Dennis maybe you could touch on the "hidden" or "private" channels that are available on Roku and their pros and cons?

    • Chuck, while there are legitimate Roku private channels, some are in a legal grey area when it comes to the usage rights. I've debated writing an article on the Roku private channels, but I would need to examine the legal repercussions for my site if I did so. In other words, I need to check what I can say and not say without getting myself into trouble.

  • And to Troy S about not being able to use an outside TV antenna due to HOA...the FCC says otherwise in most cases, search on "Telecommunications Act of 1996"

  • Hi again Dennis,
    I want to be able to access Fox News. In the above Roku article you say:

    "Here are some other examples of other top tier Roku Channels:

    ... News: CBS News, Fox News, Sky News, The Blaze, Weather Nation, and more..."

    Does this mean I can use Roku and get Fox News? Is that "live" or one day later or what?
    I would immediately jump on Sling TV if they offered Fox News, and tried unsuccessfully (the dreaded "1014" error) to use PS VUE.

    I admit I am struggling with the options available, and have not yet decided on Tablo or Roamio OTA for my antenna portion. BUT I AM going to cut the Dish cable this month!

    I really appreciate what you have done with this site; it must be a full time effort.


  • Thanks for all the info. My TV doesn't have Bluetooth or a headphone jack. If I buy a Roku 3 or 4, can I use the private listening from the Roku remote while I watch a program from my Comcast DVR? In other words, can I use only the private listening part of the Roku while watching Comcast through another HDMI connection?
    Thanks again.

    • Not that I know of. As far as I know the content has to be playing through the Roku. When I'm playing a game with the kids on the XBOX I can't listen to the game through the remote. I suspect a cable box would work the same way. I'm 99% sure on this. Unfortunately I can't test it since I don't have a cable box.

  • Just need clarification that Roku 4 can actually download TV application of my choice if am not interested of those already currently come with the box?
    My interest is to stream Thai TV channels
    Please advise

  • Hi Dennis.

    I am trying to find a way to live stream the Discovery Channel through my Roku. You mentioned in your article you were able to do this. However, I searched the Roku channels and I could not find Discovery. Am I missing something?

    Thanks, Beth

    • I've figured out how to get History channel,National geographic ,A &E, but can't get animal channel nor discovery channel... I enjoy the the Alaska Brown family and Pitbull and Paroles ,can't get either of them

      • Kia,

        When it comes to cord cutting I sometimes find it's better to assess the shows you want to watch instead of the networks. For instance, you can get the current season of Alaskan Bush People and Pit Bulls and Paroles for $20 each. If you break that down on a per month basis, both shows are only costing you around $3 per month. The best part is that you own the shows and can watch them on Amazon Video whenever you like. If you get the season pass, new episodes are available the day after they air on their network.

    • Hi Beth,

      I must have had a mental lapse when writing that. I meant HGTV. I've corrected the article accordingly. Thank you for pointing that out. As for your question, I find that it's best to purchase cable shows directly from Amazon. It actually tends to be cheaper than cable because you begin to ask yourself "Is it really worth watching." For me the answer is "No" more often than not. I came to the realization that I watched many shows out have habit or an obligation to the time I've already invested. I was surprised how easily I cut shows when I had to value them individually, instead of having there worth obscured by a cable bundle. Furthermore, it really improved the quality of the shows I watch.

  • I got a couple of questions. First, I was looking at the Mohu Leaf...should I go with the 50 or the 30, and what helps me to determine that? Also, most of the subscriptions since I would like to go with SlingTV & Hulu plus, if I have a Roku 3 on our main TV and a Roku stick on the other TV, can I use the Hulu and Sling on both or do I have to pay for 2 subscriptions? Even if I have say Hulu on both and Sling just on the main I am ok with that.

    • It really depends on the signals available in your area. If all the signals are strong on the TVFool report then the 30 should work. If it doesn't you can always purchase a small amplifier from them which is essentially the difference between the 30 and the 50.

  • Dennis - Thanks again for your superior blog on this topic. I've cut the cord, using a Mohu, Roku and Sling TV so far - saving lots of money and could not be happier. I have two final questions that I hope you can help with. First, I have an extensive collection of purchased DVD's - box sets, etc... Is there no way to now connect my analog DVD player to my digital TV to simply watch my DVD's? And last, now that I have Sling/Roku, looking at the Roamio it looks like I would be paying for some duplicated functionality between Tivo/Roku. Is there a way to answer both questions with one device that is both a DVR and DVD player? Probably a stupid question but I had to ask! Thanks again for your hard work. I've used links from your page to make my purchases. Hope it helps out.

    • Hi Melissa. Thanks for supporting the blog. The analog/digital issue is more about the TV tuner and broadcast signal. You should be able to hook the DVD player right up to your TV without an issue.As for the DVD/DVR. I'm not aware of a device that does that. You could convert your DVDs to MP4 files and stick them on a storage device and watch them through Roku Media player.

  • Dennis,

    I have heard that there is a YouTube kids. I figured since the Roku has sooo many channels that I would find it. It has where you can program a timer, set parental limits, noise level, etc. Anyways, any idea how I can get YouTube Kids as a channel on my Roku or access it?

  • Hi Dennis,
    Thanks for your informative article! I really like to cut the the cable cord, but I'm having trouble deciding which streaming device and/or service would work best for me. I am looking at the Roku because it provides a lot of the cable channels we like to watch (Food Network, HGTV, Travel Channel), but they still require a cable subscription? Does that mean we still need a cable package from Verizon, and can't just purchase Internet from them? And if you have multiple TVs, does that mean that I would need to purchase a Roku device for each one in order to watch the channels on all of them? Thanks!

  • Do you have any information on the development of the Discovery Go app for Roku? I have contacted both Discovery and Roku but receive vague answers at best. I currently have to cast it from a mobile device to watch on my T.V. I do this because my cable provider does not have all the Discovery channels in HD. Thanks for a great site!

    • Currently their isn't a Discovery Go option on Roku. I'm dumbfounded as to why. They need to get with the program.

  • I'm older and new to all this. A lot to take in. When a channel says "cable or satellite subscription required" does that mean I will need Internet AND cable tv? Or will they stream with just internet access?

    • Hi Rhonda, unfortunately those particular services require a cable TV subscription. There are exceptions, like the ability to use the ESPN App through Sling TV.

  • After purchasing a Roku, what Free Channels can I watch?
    Are these channels free to watch? NBC, NBC, FOX, PBS - Or do I need to pay for another subscription like Sling TV?

  • Trying to downsize my cable or get rid of it totally. If I have a smart TV what is the benefit of getting a Roku? I have a subscription to Netflicks and Amazon Prime.

    • The Roku has a lot more content than non-Roku smart TVs, but if you are happy with your smart TV then I would stick with it.

  • Hi, I love this website. Thank you for all the information. I have cut the cord and installed a Sky 60. I have a question. I would like to watch HGTV on my Roku but it asks me to link my Roku with my TV provider. Since I don't have a TV provider but do have an internet provider do I use my internet provider? I'm not sure what it is asking for. Also, how do I get Animal Planet? I enjoy watching those vet shows.

  • Hi! I just bought a ROKU streaming stick. I am confused about the channels/apps that say “cable or satellite subscription required” . I have access to a friends ATT Uverse cable log in but I how to do use that to access the channels that say "subscription required"? Do I need to set up my ROKU account using the same log on info as for the ATT UVerse account? Any ideas? Thanks for any help!

    • You need to set up that app with your U-Verse account information. However, you need to make sure that U-Verse supports that app.

  • I have a Roku Stick I purchased last year. It has about 6 preloaded apps like Netflix, NHL Centre Ice, Crave Tv, Stotify etc. From what I am reading above How To Add Channels To Roku I can add more apps to watch more TV through the Roku stick? THanks.

    • Yes, you can add apps to your Roku Stick. You can choose from over thousands.

  • Hi Dennis,

    Love your blog, so much useful information. We ditched cable TV, bought a Roku 2 box which is hooked up to the family TV, subscribed to Sling TV and got a second Roku 2 box free, which is hooked up to the TV in the master bedroom.

    The problem we're having is with Freeform. The first time we attempted to "add" it to the Sling menu (went to the Freeform website to activate, entered code, got the "Congratulations!" message), it came up saying "Auth Error," and this continued each time we tried to add a new activation number.

    Gave up on the downstairs TV out of pure frustration (the Freeform "FAQ" and help sections were useless), but I decided to take a chance on the upstairs TV a week or so ago and attempted to gain access to the channel. Oddly enough, I was able to make Freeform work on that TV, but still can't get it to work downstairs.

    Any ideas you could offer as far as why it never worked on one TV (before ever even trying the second), and why it does work on the other? I'd rather not have 5 kids piled onto my bed with me trying to watch ABC's 25 Days of Christmas. ; )


    • Thanks Elizabeth!

      First FreeForm is part of Sling Orange, which only allows one stream at a time. You could watch it on either TV, just not simultaneously. Second, I'm not sure the FreeForm app will work. You will need just go into the Sling TV app and navigate to the freeform channels. But make sure you have the Orange package.

  • We currently have a Roku 1 and are looking to reduce our cable. If, for example, we keep cable but reduce the package so that Disney Junior is no longer part of our cable package, will our cable login work on the Roku Disney Junior App?

    • Not sure, I don't have cable. However, I doubt you would have access to TV anywhere apps that aren't a part of your cable subscription.

  • Dennis, recently, our local fiber optic cable provider is offering a $15.95/mo package called "View Local" which provides all local major networks and a few other local channels that runs through Roku with its own app. Since I live in the sticks and the antennae help pages show I am not likely to get beyond a couple local channels, this looks like a great opportunity to ditch the traditional cable package, pick up the local channels through this app and get a Roku device of some sort. I am looking forward to seeing how I might put something together. The biggest change is learning to view "TV on demand" instead of "this is Monday, what's on TV?"

  • Hi Dennis,
    Great website! We just bought a Roku TV and still have Comcast Xfinity which is incredibly expensive. I subscribe to Amazon Prime and Netflix. If I purchase a TV antenna for local news and sports and keep the internet connection for the TV, can I cancel Xfinity? Will i still need to buy a DVR for local program? I am obviously out of my league with this! Thank you for any direction you can provide!

  • Can I download the Showbox app to the Roku I watch all the and movie threw that app? I am Asking because Showbox.apk is downloaded directly from the internet not from Google app store or iTunes..You just Google Showbox.apk and download it from the I internet link..I use it currently on my Android phone and amazing tablet? Can you let me know if it's possible to download it to the Roku and which Roku allows it if so? I also use SolarMovie.sc to watch current movie releases for free but again this is directly from the internet just type into your Google search can I access the I internet directly and use/download these sources of free TV and current movie sources? Please help mother day is coming and I'm hoping to get a Roku to use Showbox.apk and SolarMovie.sc both source allow me to not need a paid Netflix or Hulu cause I access Netflix show and Hulu shows threw the free.

    • You would need to have an android device to install an apk. As for ShowBox, use caution. While not explicitly illegal, I would be hard pressed to say it's legal. It's a grey area within the law. However, objectively ShowBox provides access to content you would otherwise have to pay for. It's only a matter of time before the law catches up to this. When that happens, I wouldn't want to be the one the courts make an example of. Basically, use caution. If you want to use completely legal means of enjoying TV and movies, check out my guide on cable TV alternatives.

  • Hi Dennis,

    Your website is a life-saver for a tech-stupid 67 year old like me. I think I've filled in most of the holes, but my one remaining confusion is: Is the only way to get TV cable channels like CNN, MSNBC, Fox News, etc. is by having a subscription with a cable provider like ComCast? Also, to get cable networks like HBO, can they be individually obtained on the Roku box or must they come through ComCast? Thanks!

    • FOX News just released a free live channel for Roku. There are a number of other ones there also.

    • You can grab Directv Now. Its a streaming service that offers many cable channels. It has MSNBC, CNN, and Fox News. The cheapest package is $35 per month and you can ad HBO for $5 a month. HBO NOW is the stand alone solution for cord cutters.

  • Hi, currently I am with a network that gets variety channels. Like Nick,CN, Boomarang , Nicktoons,and Disney channels. Now, I want to downgrade to basic cable. Will I still be able to receive these channels on my Roku stick.

  • Great information here! We are trying to decide which roku to purchase. The TV we have is not a smart TV or a HGTV. It does have HDMI port. We just want great quality streaming..nothing fancy. Will all the rokus work on our TV?

  • If i have 1920 X 1080 display tv purchased in 2013 and I do not need frills, will the roku express be good enough?

    • You need a Roku attached to the TV you want to stream on. Therefore, you could move one around. However, if you want to have 2 TVs streaming at the same time then you would need 2 devices.

  • Hi dennis if your have Internet and have a roku from a pawn shop do you have to pay for anything

  • Hi Dennis- you have answered so many questions, thank you! Am I correct in assuming you have to get one Roku for each set? Or is there a way around that?

    • Yes, you need a Roku on each set. However, I know some have 1 and just move it from TV to TV.

  • Is there anyway to use a Roku and be able to watch it on my iPad instead of a TV? I'm disabled & can't tolerate sitting in my living room to watch shows. As of last week I cut off my DirecTV subscription as it cost too much. I already have Hulu, CBS All Access & Amazon Prime, but I'm wanting to watch the major networks & especially channels such as HGTV, TLC, & Animal Planet, but all on my iPad because I'm restricted to bed about 90% of the day. Do you have any advice for me?

    • That is actually easier. Most streaming services that you would use on a Roku have an app you can use on an iPad. Hulu, CBS All Access, and Amazon all have apps on iPad. HGTV, TLC and Animal Planet are available on DirecTV Now, which has an iOS app for iPad.

  • Incredibly great article. Even the vendors web sites don't start at the beginning and give all the details that this article does. Only question I have is access to the PBS channels - are they included or in one of the 'channels' that could be subscribed to?

    • The PBS app offers a lot of content, but it may be missing some of what's on your local PBS affiliate. In those instances, I'd use a TV antenna.

  • THANK YOU! we are cutting the Cable cord Friday.
    If I read your blog correctly, we can watch SHOWS from the networks... but we cant watch LIVE stuff like the 6 oclock news or the TODAY morning show...Correct?

  • Hi Dennis,

    Great article with excellent information. We bought a Roku TV and have installed that in our travel trailer back in February 2016 that we use when we go on vacation. A lot of the RV parks that we go to have wifi and usually cable TV but the number of channels we can pick up on the Roku TV are limited (a lot of times not the full complement of channels they offer). Of the four or five devices you discussed above in your article" What is Roku? How does it work?", which one would be our best option to pair with that TV? Would the streaming stick suffice? At home we have DirectTV as our programming provider.

  • Hi there - Love your website! Wondering if you could help with these questions. We have three TVs and are thinking of getting Roku. If we buy a Roku for each one - would that work? I mean, could I watch something in one room, with my husband watching something else in a different room. Right now, we have satellite TV and want to get rid of it and get Sling TV. We have a Blu-Ray connected to one TV, so we're able to watch Netflix. Can you have the Blu-Ray and Roku connected to one TV at the same time? As you can see, we're tech-challenged. Thanks for your advice.

    • Yes, you can watch different things on different Roku devices. It's also no problem to connect a Roku and a Blu-ray as long as you have enough HDMI ports on the television.

  • Can I create a Roku account without entering Credit card Info? I want to pay Amazon prime and Hulu directly. Not through Roku. I just want the Roku to connect my TV to my Internet. And I only want the Free Stuff on the Roku? I don't want to pay anything through Roku. I have read some articles that say you can create and activate it without putting in the Credit Card Info. Is that accurate. Thanks for any help on this.

    • Yes, I set the credit card up on Amazon prime. I don't think I've ever typed a CC into my Roku.

  • Can you use your Roku tv with cable etc & not have to pay? I bought one to have HDMI 3 for my surveillance cameras. I have a sling box & xfinity on the other HDMI boxes. I will probably sign up for Roku t.v. after my Cable contract is up.

  • My neighbor gave me a LG model 32LK3300-UH manufacturer date 2011. Can I use this with a ROKU with not cable connection? I have very strong wifi in my house. What cables would I need?
    Many thanks.

    • If it has an HDMI input, which I think that model does, then all you would need is an HDMI cable to hook the Roku to the TV.

  • Great help. What about rural areas antenna no help to many mountains . Have internet and limited tv channels. Older tv so recommendations for which roku and do i need sling or Amazon prime?
    Thanks again

  • Dear Sir, I am amazed and totally befuddled after reading some of your articles, currently we pay over 200 dollars a month to our cable company, that's right 200 are we crazy slash stupid, we have been doing this for years and are totally fed up. It seems as though Roku may be the answer along with high speed internet. I do believe that I will have to use the services of a competant installer because we are not computer savvy, which also brings me to the last question, should we consider running everything through a computer, lots of questions I know we need help! L Woody Rosen

  • Hi we are planning on getting rid of cable, old people here not use to new things or technologies, our friend has Roku with Sling Tv with antenna which her husband can watch his programs, What I am saying is if we use our antenna and Roku will this also channels like history, food network and/ or discovery channels like. Or do we need to check into some other things

    • Hi Kim. You can get a Roku and something like Sling TV or DirecTV Now. That will provide most of the cable shows. The antenna will hook you up with local broadcast networks. DirecTV Now will also provide access to local broadcast networks over streaming. However, it differs from market to market. Check out the article I linked on DirecTV Now for more info on that.

  • We are looking into getting Hulu. We are also in the market for a new DVD player. In the event that we purchase a new DVD player, it is my understanding that we will then be able to have access to Hulu. But, we will also be watching TV in other parts of the home. Does this mean that we will also need to purchase a Roku or other streaming device? It sounds like overkill to have a DVD player that provides access to Hulu but that would only be on one TV. Am I understanding this correctly? To watch Hulu on other TV's in the home we would need a Roku or other device? Thanks for our help.

    • I wouldn't grab a DVD player. You don't need it stream. It's more for recording shows from a TV Antenna. First I would get an inexpensive streaming device like a Roku Stick. That will allow you to watch Hulu. For more information on cord-cutting, I recommend checking out our page on How to Cut the Cord. It links all the guides that are helpful to those starting out cutting the cord.

  • Great article! I have been considering dropping cable but was only able to find information on the Roku in bits and pieces. Thanks for putting all of this information in one place!

  • Based on my recent experience, I believe NO ONE should consider Roku. The tech support, and corporate policies, are atrocious. My "purple screen" issues have not been resolved - and will not be resolved. I have had tech support terminate chats, and hang up on me during voice calls.

    I am stuck with a Roku Premiere box that is simply a very expensive paperweight.

    You may do as you wish as to a streaming device. The best I can do is provide my experience, and say "Caveat Emptor!"

    • I've used plenty of Roku devices and haven't had an issue. You may have gotten a bad device. I'm sorry support wasn't better. I've never had to deal with them. Saddens me that they weren't better.

  • Thank you for all your input! This is extremely helpful for a newbie as myself. We would like to enjoy 4K streaming since we plunked down a ton of $ on a 4K home theater. Cable is killing us since our promo price keeps climbing. What is the best combination of streaming for us with the Roku? We enjoy Walking Dead, Blacklist, Marvels Agents of Shield, Lethal Weapon and much more. Can you advise? TIA

    • Go to the Roku Channel Store - there is now a separate category there for 4K content including Netflix, Amazon, and others which can help you decide.

  • I read your article about Roku and it has a lot of info. Almost too technical for a newbie like me!....Up here in rural Maine using an antenna is not an option due to the tv station signals being too weak. What would be the next best option to the antenna?

    Also, we like to watch specific shows like NCIS, Last Man Standing, Fixer Upper, Special Report(fox News), Seal Team and the Hallmark channels as well. with this in mind what channel(s) do I pick for these? or is there a way to funnel these down into one channel? Would Sling TV be the right choice? Sorry but this is still confusing to me.

    Breaking away from cable, saving money and not losing our ability to show our favorite shows is our goal.

    When I say i'm a newbie, I reallly, really am a newbie.

    • What shows are must watch? Which ones can you live without? I recommend taking an inventory and then deciding if you should buy the shows directly from Amazon\iTunes or if you need a streaming service. I recommend checking out this article on cable tv alternatives for more information.

  • I just wanted to thank youfor this whole article. Your time dedication and information collect makes a huge difference in lives.

  • Hi,

    I live in Bergen County, NJ about 15 miles outside of New York City. I have Optimum Cable with their "Triple Play Package" which costs me $161.26 per month. Even though I don't have any HBO or sports packages, they say this package saves me $93.70 per month over their usual charges. Every December I have to call them and renew my package which is the same experience as going to a car dealership to buy a car. I hate it.

    The internet service they provide is their "Optimum 100" which includes free Unlimited access Optimum WiFi. My house phone is $29.95 which 99% of the calls are ROBO calls. However, if I cancel the house phone, I lose the triple play savings and for an extra $15 a month, they say it is good to have the house phone for emergencies if the cell phones go down.

    I only watch about 15 worthwhile channels on the TV such as NatGeo, Discovery, Fox news, CNN, MSNBC, CNBC, AMC, and some other channels that show Seinfeld and classic reruns, because the rest is just garbage or channels a 53 year old male doesn't watch such as; cartoons, shopping channels, music channels, Spanish, Korean, MTV video channels, etc.

    I want to save money and not be a victim of Cable TV's extortionist packages where you have to pay extra for a crap bundle of channels to watch just one interesting channel. For example, they charge me $6.97 a month for "Sports TV" which I don't want, but if I want to opt out of that, I have to drop my channel package from the intermediate level to basic broadcasting, plus lose out on any of their so-called savings bundles.

    I have a Sharp TV that is about 10 years old with HDMI in the living room and a small 25" TV in the basement. Both have cable boxes and their own remotes which each have their own monthly cost of $10.00 per box.

    What recommendations can you make? Would I be a good candidate for Roku and the Mohu antenna? I am not that tech savvy. When I buy a new TV and have to hook it up and program the channels and remote, I can eventually get it set up, but it gives me angst just thinking about it on the drive home from the electronics/appliance store.

    Thank you!

  • I called Roku customer services because one of my channels isn't working after it clearly telling me I paid for it. The people I talked to are telling me there's a oñe time fee of like 160 bucks I gota pay to keep watching my Roku. I never heard this before an I've had my device for 2 years! Even the box it came in says all you need is WiFi an if you want premium channels i got to pay for them separately, which I do, now out the blue there's a charge to use my Roku! Someone please tell me what I'm missing hear?

  • I live in Africa, a lot of the content I want to watch is not available on the likes of netflix. I have my own entertainment on my portable hard drive. Can I connect my portable hard drive to Roku. To watch in a hotel room when I travel overseas?

    • No, to do that you would want to use something like the Nvidia Sheild.

  • Spectrum informed us that as of 11/28 we will no longer be able to watch TVs without cable boxes that rent for $11.75 per month. She also told me I could use Roku instead. Is thus true? If so which Roku set up accomplishes this task and do I have to pay monthly for Roku to work as a cable box replacement?


    • It's really a streaming service that will allow you the ability to watch TV. The service is streamed to a device like a Roku. Check out our guide to cable TV alternatives and that will explain how this works.

      • I believe you also can still subscribe to the legacy Spectrum Cable service, and then be able to access the service on Roku via a Spectrum Channel used for that purpose.

  • I have three older TV's that have HDMI. One is in my den (large plasma) another in the kitchen and one in my bedroom. If I wanted to completely cut the cord what would I need to do for each TV?

  • I don't see any mention of Hulu Live? Just purchased a Roku TV, not really knowing what I was buying. I'm a newbie as well looking to cut the cord. I live in an area where an antenna is not an option, so was thinking of switching to Hulu live. I was thinking of getting a Roku stick for my other TVs, will this be enough?

    • I'd get an amplifier if you are hooking it up to two TVs. You will want to compensate with the loss due to the splitter.

  • I have a question I have a new roku television that I purchase from Best Buy last year my remote control have Netflix ,Sling, Google Play , Hulu what I need to know do I need to buy the stick if I want to cut the cable

  • Thank you so much for posting these articles. I like to ask a lot of questions before I purchase a new item or switch to something new. You absolutely answered all my questions. I love the way you compare and break things down to give the customer a chance to make the decision for themselves...basically not just trying to tell us what to do. Again i say your the best. I will pass these articles on to my family and friends who have similar questions. Happy Thanksgiving and be Blessed!!!

  • I have been reading your article on Revolution thru Tech Evolution. i read alot in the last two days. I've been wondering how many TV's can be used at one time watching Roku?

  • I have been reading your article on Revolution thru Tech Evolution. i read alot in the last two days. I've been wondering how many TV's can be used at one time watching Roku? plus as I was reading, I saw Roku Ultra mentioned. Is ther such a Roku??

  • Great article! I learned a lot.

    But I'm wondering if there are any tech advantages of using a Roku vs a wireless HDMI setup like Nyrius Aries Pro.

    My situation is I want to mirror from my PC/phone to a projector so my daughter can play games on my homemade (Wii) interactive whiteboard.

    Your thoughts?

    And Happy Thanksgiving.

    • There is little tech advantage. Roku is more about usability. It's very easy to use. Hope your Thanksgiving was a good one as well.

  • Best, easy-to-understand articles on streaming TV ever!
    I am an NHL hockey fan. Go devils!
    Fubo TV tells me they carry MSG Network but I must use a service like sling TV. Can I use a Roku and fubo? Or are these the same thing? I am confused! :-)

    • FuboTV is a service that can be viewed through a Roku. Same thing with Sling TV. Think of them like apps on a phone. Your phone is the Roku and Fubo TV and Sling TV are apps that run on it.

  • I have 5 TV's. Can I get roku to the other TV's (without buying 5 roku's) or is this even possible? We do have structured wiring where all the coaxial cables come Together in one location in a cabinet.

  • I have a "no tech" brain. All of this sounded great to me but it is hard to understand. I do not have internet at my house because I live in the woods of TN. I do have data on my at&t phone that will pick up slightly in my house. Can I use my phone as a hotspot and still be able to use roku?

    • Unfortunately, not really. Most unlimited mobile plans have a cap of around 10-20 GB per month when you use a hotspot. This would get used up fairly quickly watching video.

  • What is the difference between Sling and the Roku? Do I need both?

    • Roku is a device that allows you to watch streaming service like Netflix, Sling TV, and others on your television. You need a Roku to watch services on your TV, but you don't need one if you watch Sling TV on your computer, tablet , or phone.

    • Sling is like buying a cable TV package - but you watch it over the internet instead. So you need an internet Streaming device to connect to the internet and to play Sling. There are many devices that do that - Roku is the most popular and the easiest to use.

      • Thank you for the reply. My new 4K TV has a free 30 day sling subscription included - no ROKU needed. Will I need the ROKU for anything else if I already have sling without a ROKU device?

        • So it sounds like you already have a new "smart" internet tv with pre-installed Channels including Sling. The answer depends on your viewing requirements.

          If Sling and the other channels on your Smart TV satisfy your viewing needs, then you are totally set and nothing else is needed. If you want even more channels (thousands to choose from), then add the Roku.

  • Dude... YOU are the Man!!! Thanks so much for the detailed info! I have been feeling robbed by the cable and dish companies, paying for premium sports channels at home and trying to maintain service at our lake house for over $100 a month and only being there 1/3 of the time. I will refer all my friends to your site to cut the cord!!! Thank You Dennis!!!

    • If you are able to stream everything you want to watch on your PlayStation then there isn't a need to get another device.

  • We bought a Vizio smart TV after Christmas and as of yesterday non of the apps are streaming except Netflix. Can we use a Roku with a smart TV who just became dumb??

    • Yes. In fact I did the same exact thing when I originally cut the cord.

  • I have a A/V receiver that has 4K capabilities that feeds a Panasonic Plasma TV. My question is should I buy a Roku Streaming stick or a Streaming+? Roku's web site could not provide me with a answer. I know I have to plug the Streaming stick into the HDNI in port. I would greatly appreciate your insight to my dilemma.

  • I am a football fan who generally goes to bed around 9:00 p.m. (2nd Quarter) I normally DVR the game and continue watching the remainder of the game in the morning before I have a chance of seeing the score. Can you you do this with Roku? A lot of the games are on various cable channels. Also what about recording 2 or 3 games at the same time?

  • I just want a great UHD TV. I know nothing about ROKU or the TCL ROKO TV's nor do I really want to at this point. I just got hooked on Netflix for gosh sake. I'm more interested the picture quality with FiOs rather than the app based bells and whistles.
    Where do I go from here?

    • If all you want is Netflix, most Smart TVs will have it. Just pick one with the features you like.

      • Well that's how I got on this Roku thought process in the first place. The TCL brand, which I've never heard of, got great reviews in my price range. But they were also really pushing Roku. I'm just interested in the picture quality...

  • Hi there! We just got a roku. We are wanting to get rid of our current directv because we are paying for channels we don't even watch. But some of the channels we want to download from the roku require some sort of tv service. Would directvnow or slingtc work for that and which one does everyone prefer and work better?

  • Help I was watching Netflix with my Roku and now I want to go back to my cable tv and I have no clue how to switch back to cable tv.

    • It's going to depend on your TV. Turn on your cable box and press the button on the TV remote that switches inputs until you see the cable box.

  • Your site is the ONLY one that has helped my non-tech brain even remotely begin to understand all of this stuff, so first, THANK YOU!! Two very basic questions (sorry if these are dumb questions) ... I understand I would need a Roku device on each TV I would want to use, but do I need to purchase whatever streaming service (e.g., Hulu) then separately for every Roku? Or can I just purchase it once and somehow use it / download it / on every Roku? Second, why is there a need for an antenna, and would I need an antenna for every TV?

    • Hi Dawn. Thank you for the kind words and I know it's a cliche but the only stupid question is one not asked.

      Now the answers. For a streaming service you only need to subscribe once. You then use your login for the service on each Roku Device. Keep in mind some services restrict the number of simultaneous streams you can view.

      As for the Antenna, you don't need one if your streaming service provides all your local channels. If they don't then you will need one for channels like ABC, NBC, CBS, FOX, etc. It really depends on the signals in your area if you can get away with using 1 for every TV.

  • I have a Roku on 2 TV's and watch on another Smart TV. When watching on demand there is no sound when a commercial comes on or when there a several together the sound goes off. I was trying to watch on demand on the smart TV and no sound at all on demand or recorded. We loose Direct TV due to weather a lot.

  • We watch both Fox News and Fox Business with our Dish Network programing. Are these channels found on Roku? I am researching Roku. I'mpressed what is offered with Roku and hope to learn even more. Thank you.

  • I have several TV's and Spectrum Cable. I want to add another TV without having to rent another cable box- so I want a smart TV. Best Buy offers a smart Sharp tv with Roku. I do not want another subscription service- just want a wireless connection to the TV I purchase. Is this Sharp Smart TV with Roku a good choice?

  • Dennis,
    Great article thanks - at home, i have a cable tv subscription. I just got a beach house on the eastern shore. the only thing worse than one cable tv bill is TWO - don't want to do that. In the article (Roku work with cable) , you describe logging into your comcast tv account via Roku and access "loads of content online" . Does this mean i can watch whatever i have access to in my primary home (via comcast cable tv) at my beach house with just internet and a Roku TCL tv? or do i need a Sling Box (not Sling tv) to essentially push my home cable tv content (LIVE) to my beach house Roku tv thanks

    • I've never used a Sling Box, but I've been told it can be hit or miss based on your cable provider. A cable provider login should give you access to the channels apps. However, I haven't had cable in a long time. They may have better checks in place now.

  • I have had my Roku tv for about 4-5 years and love it. But today, I have sound but no picture for cable channels. It works well with Netflix though. How can I get this fixed?? So frustrating... please help me... Thanks.

    • Is this your cable box? I'd check the HDMI cable. Try a new cable, and a new port and see if that fixes the issue.

  • Wonderful commentary - So insightful ! Was wondering is there any device that is available that would enable me to see if I could receive OTA signal so I don't go out and buy an antenna and set it up only to find out I cant get enough signal. I am in a very rural area. I am not convinced that TV Fool's signal diagram for my area is accurate.

  • I just purchased a brand new Roku Plus went to activate my Roku account and it asked for a debit card I did not want to put my debit card information on the account call the customer service they told me that I had to add a debit card to pay for premium apps the apps that I'm using are free they would not activate my Roku account until I put some type of debit card on it why is this I should not have to put a debit card if the apps I want to use are all free can I have a Roku account without having to pay for monthly service