Cord Cutters: 3 Roku Tips & Tricks


Do you have a Roku box, but only use it to watch Netflix (s NFLX) or Hulu Plus on your TV? Well, you could be doing a whole lot more with the device. In this week’s episode of Cord Cutters, Janko shows you how you can watch YouTube, (s GOOG) enjoy videos hosted on a USB drive and even stream video from your PC to the box itself.

In this episode, Janko notes that many video types won’t play on the Roku without being encoded in a supported format. But there are at least five different options for converting your files to MP4 and MOV, with a favorite among Roku users being Handbrake.

If you like these tips, you should also check out seven other things you might not know you can do with your Roku, including watch live TV and control the device with your phone.

We’re currently experimenting with the format of Cord Cutters, and would love to hear your thoughts about our new single-subject episodes, as well as any topics you’d like to see us cover down the line — so feel free to sound off in the comments.

And we’re always hungry for your stories of dropping cable, for potential inclusion in our Cord Cutters Survival Stories series. Get in touch via Twitter or email if you’re interested in sharing.

Previous episodes of Cord Cutters:

Ep. 01: Cord Cutters: NewTeeVee’s First Web Series!

Ep. 02: Is the Xbox 360 a Good Cord-Cutting Device?

Ep. 03: Logitech Revue: Not Cutting It For Cord Cutters

Ep. 04: Wanna Try Cord Cutting? Buy A $12 Antenna

Ep. 05: Cord Cutters: NewTeeVee Live Edition, Cord-Cutting Activism

Ep. 06: Cord Cutters: Is The Boxee Box the Solution for You?

Ep. 07: Cord Cutters: The Gift Guide for Cable-Free Holidays

Ep. 08: Cord Cutters: Is Hulu Plus Enough to Replace Cable?

Ep. 09: Cord Cutters: Turn Your PC Into a Media Center

Ep. 10: Cord Cutters: Can You Entertain Your Kids Sans Cable?

Ep. 11: Cord Cutters Confessions: Why We Canceled Cable

Ep. 12: Cord Cutters: The WD TV Live Plus

Ep. 13: Cord Cutters: How to Optimize Your Netflix Streaming

Ep. 14: Cord Cutters: 3 Boxee Box Tips and Tricks

Ep. 15: Cord Cutters: The iFanboy Edition

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I find it very strange that your site is coded in such a way the the “Watch Later” feature for Boxee does not recognize that there is video on the site. Kind of funny when you consider the topic.


I do believe they support mkv but not avi officially. There is a nice free app however called gabby, it will stream all those movie formats from your computer to your roku. Basically you make a folder for your media(it actually creates those on the roku after a scan of the computer) and you simply browse the thumbnails of the films, press play and done.


I’d pull the trigger on getting a Roku if they’d add support for mkv and xvid.


I highly recommend the private channel Nowhere TV – The private channel code is H9DWC. I especially like the live news channels available through Nowhere TV including Al Jazeera, BBC World and CNN International.

Regarding USB playback from an external drive – the drive has to be FAT32 not NTFS.

I also have the PlayOn private channel enabled on my Roku – code PLAYON. PlayOn is software you run on your computer and it serves as a proxy for accessing even more online video content.


Playon is Ok if you have a fast enough computer, otherwise Roksbox is solid. Just use Handbreak.

Matt C.

I haven’t tried Roksbox, but I do use Chaneru, which is even available in the Roku channel store. Chaneru has a free 30-day trial period, and after that it’s only $10. As a bonus, if you have more than one Roku in your house (I have 3), then then just email the developer, and he’ll send you a code to unlock Chaneru on any additional Roku boxes at no extra charge.

One thing I like about Chaneru is that I was able to install the server as a service on my Windows Home Server using AnyServiceInstaller. Also, you can add cover art simply by placing a JPG with the same filename as your video file within the same folder.

Check out Chaneru here:

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