One statement I made early in this blog, was that I would not endorse or indict any purely commercial products. I am sorry to say that right now, I feel the need to break my promise to some degree.
I just bought myself a ‘Roku’ – and when we say that word, we are supposed to roll the ‘R’. In order not to praise this little gadget too much, I will try to hold it short on this subject.
A Roku is an Internet-TV device, similar to Apple TV. We connect it to a digital TV via HDMI cable, and also connect it to the Internet, and then we can watch movies on it in 1080p, that are being streamed to us over the Internet. It has the option of an Ethernet connection, but also has a blazing-fast 802.11ac WiFi capability.
One advantage it has over Apple TV, is that it is multi-sourced. It allows us to subscribe to a plethora of channels, each of which is being sold by an independent group of entrepreneurs.
One channel in its list that is important – to the success of Roku – is ‘Netflix’. The first thing I did when I set it up, was to activate the Netflix account I already hold. And at that point something happened which was unusual for me. I started a Netflix movie, which I usually only use to set up laptops and other configurations, but then became absorbed into the movie! I mean, I would have the ability to watch this same movie on numerous other devices, but never really got into the mood to do so. But then, to be able to watch the same movie on my big living-room TV, put me in the mood.
And I would say, that this is a major selling-point for the Roku, especially for Linux-people like me. It often happens to us that we can only watch content in reduced resolution. For example, if we watch Netflix on a Linux-based Chrome browser, I think we are limited to 720p. So to have that access to 1080p may mean something tom certain audiences.
On that note, the movie I just finished watching – “Ex-Machina” was also intended as a test, to see whether my current Internet configuration can support the bit-rate. But since I also just received a new Modem, capable of 802.11ac speeds, the answer was a clear Yes for me. I was expecting a lot of troubling spots within the movie – hesitations and hangs. But in truth, there was only a single stutter, when a buffering-symbol appeared for a few seconds, because just at that moment, my speed did not keep up. But for the most part the playback was good.
Another note about this device would be, that one channel we can link, is our ‘CinemaNow’ channel. The way this works for the most part, we need to have a Netflix subscription, in order to link that to Roku. Likewise, we need to have a CinemaNow subscription, in order to link that as well.
CinemaNow is a service which allows us to buy movie-licenses online, to add those to a collection and view them. But unless I am mistaken, I think that our CinemaNow account will also show all our ‘Ultraviolet’ licenses. This could mean that if somebody out there has a large Ultraviolet collection, he should be able to collect those into his CinemaNow account,
and then watch them on Roku in 1080p! Please do not be angry with me, if I got this wrong.
I have yet to link my own CinemaNow account, because my phone is charging right at this instant. The way it works, we control our master-account – if you will – from a PC-Web-browser. But then in order to browse the Channel Store, the recommended thing to do is to download either the Android or the iOS app, and to browse that from our mobile device. We set up a PIN number to restrict what we can buy from our mobile devices.
When my phone has finished charging, I think the next thing I will do is link my CinemaNow account.
There is one word of caution which I must add however. Much of what Roku customers get to see, is based on having paid subscriptions of one sort or another. What we get to see purely for free, is somewhat limited. We can watch “Sky News”. But I do not know how enthusiastic most people would be about Sky News. Sorry. Now I have not only endorsed the product, but cast an aspersion on it as well…
(Edit : ) I have just linked my CinemaNow account to my Roku device,
and doing so worked like a charm. Mind you, my own Ultraviolet collection is small, but all my movies are there!
In order not to hurt any brand-names, I should also add, that the Roku device itself can go up to 4K resolution – if the content is available. But I, personally, just do not have a 4K TV to benefit from that.
And, I hear that CinemaNow also offers some free content. but I think that the free content by itself is also not the main attraction for CinemaNow.
Further, if the reader does not think much of Sky News, there is a better alternative: ‘Reuters TV’, and it is free.
And, we can link our ‘Google Play Movies & TV’ as an additional channel, but granted, this assumes we have purchased content from that source. I have not.
(Edit 02/12/2017 : ) I have discovered that for some reason, our Ultraviolet collection on CinemaNow will not play. I get to see my full collection, but if I click on any one movie to play it, I get a message-box which says: “The selected content is currently unavailable. Please try again later.”