Getting Started - Setup & How-to

Help getting started with Roku devices, including setup, connecting your device to your TV, linking a Roku device to your account at my.roku.com/link, adding channels, subscribing to services, and more.
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Level 8

Please tell me what Roku I need???

Hi

I am going round in circles trying to find a simple answer that applies to my question so would be very, very grateful if someone could reply to this in a way that a man like me (who is terrified of technology) could understand?

I am sure anyone involved in Roku sales could answer this but, of course, I can't get hold of such an animal so I am hoping someone reading this can help?

ALL I want is to buy a Roku device which will allow me to plug in an External Hard Drive on which I have stored lots of films and have it play them. I currently play my films by connecting my EHD to my computer and the computer to the TV using an HDMI lead. I am TOLD that a Roku Ultra (or any other Roku?) will remove the need for my computer and that I can plug the Ultra into my TV, plug my EHD directly into it and it will play my films for me?

I also understand that the Ultra is not yet available in the UK (where I am) but I think I can overcome that problem....

My question then is simply "Will the Roku Ultra (or any other Roku) play downloaded films directly from an EHD?".

I hope someone can help?

Thanks,

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13 Replies
Level 21

Re: Please tell me what Roku I need???

Only the Ultra has a USB port.  The Streambar and Sound Bar also have a USB port, but I'm guessing they're also not available in the UK. The other players use a USB power supply, but you can't connect anything else to that port.  You should note that Rokus play a very limited number of video formats and codecs.  You can use any Roku to play media from a server (most people use DLNA).  This requires a computer or NAS (network attached storage) running whenever you want to view your media.  The advantage to this is that many DLNA servers will transcode an incompatible video into something a Roku can play.  The disadvantage is the need for a computer to be running and if you want automatic transcoding it has to be somewhat powerful.

You should also do some research before importing a player that's not available there.  Some people have reported issues like not being able to get the UK Roku channels.  I think they've always been able to resolve it, but you may not want the extra hassle.

Level 8

Re: Please tell me what Roku I need???

Hmmm EHD and I would think that one would not need a Roku to replay that.

I figure I am missing something though, so why do you need a Roku to replay from a EHD?

Please give feedback if ppossible, no bad vibes about this just wondering....okay.

 

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Level 12

Re: Please tell me what Roku I need???

By the way if your ONLY goal is to play things from a USB drive, there are things that pretty much do only that.  Search for something like: USB media player.

Level 18

Re: Please tell me what Roku I need???

I use an HDMI cable to feed my  media files directly over to the TV from my computer.

You can do this by simple mirroring or have the TV detected as another monitor

and then it doesnt interfere with using the computer. There are many methods to do this.

Even VLC can do this on its own. You can get very long HDMI cables, why not?

---A problem clearly stated is a problem half solved---.
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Level 21

Re: Please tell me what Roku I need???

As others have mentioned, the Ultra is the only current model player available with a USB port. However, both the new Streambar and Soundbar include USB ports as well. 

One caution about playing media directly from a portable drive. If your media isn't in a supported container, and the video and/or audio codecs are unsupported, then the media won't play. Just because you can play them on a computer doesn't mean a Roku can play them.

Roku only supports four container types: MP4, TS, MKV and MOV. For video codecs, it must be H.264/AVC, MP4, MPEG-2, or H.265 for the 4K players. Audio has multiple codecs supported, but some are container dependent. It's best if you read it for yourself on this page. Note that their page doesn't list TS/M2TS as a supported container, but it is. 

Dan
Roku Stick (3600), Ultra (4640), Ultra (4670), Ultra (4800), Premiere (3920), Insignia 720p Roku TV, Sharp 4K Roku TV, Nvidia Shield, Windows 10 Pro x64 running Serviio and Plex on a wired Gigabit network.
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Level 8

Re: Please tell me what Roku I need???

Thank you so much for your comprehensive, and comprehensible, reply.

I had been told that the Roku Ultra was rather like VLC in that whatever format the films I had on my EHD were, it would play them but from what you say, I think I'll forget the whole idea and buy a cheap computer to connect by HDMI to my TV.

Thanks again!

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Level 8

Re: Please tell me what Roku I need???

The EHD is simply a storage device? It needs a media player of some sorts.

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Level 8

Re: Please tell me what Roku I need???

I did not know that! Thank you! I will see what I can find, or what Mr Google can find for me!

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Level 8

Re: Please tell me what Roku I need???

Thanks for the reply but that is exactly what I am doing now - VLC on my computer, connected by HDMI - and I thought I had said that? What I am LOOKING to do is take my laptop out of the equation so I can use it elsewhere in my house.

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