Got a new Roku? Here are five tips to get the most out of your gift

roku xs

New Roku owners: Get the best picture quality possible, watch YouTube videos, stream photos straight from your mobile phone and access lots of unofficial content sources (naughty and nice) with our five essential Roku tips:

Optimize your home network

Got a Roku 2 XS? Then make use of that Ethernet port, and plug it in.

Got a Roku 2 XS? Then make use of that Ethernet port, and connect the device directly to your router

Here’s one way to mess with anyone’s holiday spirit: Imagine you’re streaming a movie with your new Roku – and suddenly, it starts to buffer. Again and again. Even though your Internet connection should be fast enough. In many cases, issues like these are caused by problems in your home network. Maybe your baby monitor is interfering with your wireless router. Or maybe that wall between your living room and your home office is just a bit too solid for a good Wifi signal.

The easiest remedy is to use a wired Ethernet connection instead, if at all possible. An Ethernet cable connecting your router directly to your Roku will always get you the best signal possible. Unfortunately, that’s only possible with the Roku2 XS. The XD, HD and LT models as well as the new Roku streaming stick don’t have any Ethernet port, and have to rely on Wifi instead. You could always try to move your router closer to your living room TV, or upgrade to a newer router if nothing else helps.

Watch YouTube

Roku has plenty of channels to keep you busy over the holidays and beyond, but there’s one big one missing: you won’t find any YouTube channel in the Roku channel store. But no worries: You can still watch all your favorite YouTube clips with your Roku, as long as you also have an iPad, Android tablet, iPhone or Android mobile phone. Just install Twonky Beam on your mobile device, use it to navigate YouTube’s catalog, and beam the clips of your choice to the Roku, AirPlay-style. Take a look at our demo video below:

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xnuopr2xYhw]

Get Plex

Plex is great to access personal media stored on your home PC - including your music collection.

Plex is great to access personal media stored on your home PC – including your music collection.

Want to watch home movies and downloaded content on your Roku? Then get the Plex channel, and install the Plex Media Server on your Windows PC or OS X computer. Not only does Plex do a great job at organizing and displaying all your local media, it also offers access to a number of additional content channels. And with MyPlex, you can even share media with other Plex users and access their shared content libraries on your Roku.

Get the official mobile app

The Roku app for Android and iOS doesn't just have handy shortcuts for your Roku channels, it also lets you beam content from your mobile phone.

The Roku app for Android and iOS doesn’t just have handy shortcuts for your Roku channels, it also lets you beam content from your mobile phone.

It’s bound to happen: sooner or later, you’re gonna lose the Roku remote between your couch cushions. That’s when the official Roku remote app for iOS and Android comes in handy. The app not only lets you navigate through Roku’s menus, you can also quickly fire up your channels through dedicated shortcuts. And you’ll even be able to beam any music and videos saved on your mobile phone straight to the Roku.

Install third-party channels

Roku has more than 600 channels available through its channel store, which should keep you busy for some time. But there’s more: A few hundred private channels, including adult content and offerings that aren’t quite ready yet for prime time, can be accessed through special channel codes. Check this description to learn how to add private channels, and then browse the catalog on Roku-channels.com to find more channels for your new Roku box.

Want to use your Roku to get rid of cable? Then check out my ebook Cut the Cord: All You Need to Know to Drop Cable.

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