RankynPhyle.com

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Up the Stream without a Paddle

Posted by Rankyn Phyle on 2015 Jul 18

If you ever find yourself in the market for a streaming media box, do yourself a favor and just buy a Roku​.
You’ll thank yourself for it later.

Sure, if you’re a prisoner of the Apple ecosystem, an AppleTV might be a better option for you, but for those of us lucky enough to be on the outside, you’re not gonna find anything better than a Roku.

Chromecast? Cheap but because it has no remote, you’re at the mercy of your phone or tablet, hoping that they will acknowledge its presence if you want to use it.
Streamed a Netflix​ movie with it and now want to pick a different one but for some reason your phone doesn’t list it as an available device? You’re out of luck.
Maybe you could try unplugging it from the TV to reboot it or come back in a couple of hours when your phone will magically decide that it exists again.

Amazon Fire TV? A decent option if 1) You don’t mind that it’s more interested in pushing all things Amazon on you than playing your media, and 2) It’ll sometimes decide that it can’t transcode your media right now but then will do it with no problem later.
I think that my biggest irritation with it’s UI is that when I select an app to launch (such as Netflix), it will sometimes take me to the product info page for the Netflix app instead of just launching it.
”No, I’ve already ‘purchased’ the Netflix app so I don’t need to read about it to decide if I want it or not… just launch it.”

Roku is straightforward in its simplicity.
It does one thing and it does it very well.
I click the Netflix app, I start watching Netflix.
I click the Plex app, I start watching my local media.
The remote stops working, I change the batteries and carry on.

I bought a Chromecast when they first came out as a cheap streaming option for the TV in my bedroom.
I hate it.
The only thing I don’t regret about it is that it came with several free months of Netflix so that pushed it’s net cost down to about $10.

I bought a FireTV Stick for my (non-technology inclined) mother as an inexpensive way for her to watch Netflix.
The cluttered UI and inconsistent navigation confused her so I gave her my Roku and used the FireTV Stick for myself, figuring that the release of a new Roku model was imminent and I could live with the FireTV Stick in the meantime.
Big mistake because there was no R4 in sight, but at least she could watch Netflix.

So last week I found a good deal on a refurbished Roku Stick.
It’s under-powered so the UI is a little sluggish but it runs Netflix & Plex and plays all my media.
Now I’ve once again got a good device on the big tv, an acceptable device in the bedroom, and a Chromecast for sale on eBay.
At this point I should be able to patiently await the eventual release of the R4, at which time I’ll probably give the Roku Stick to my mom so she can watch Netflix in bed.

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