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What Is Roku? – Cordcutting.com

We’re huge fans of Roku right here on Cordcutting.com, however in the event you click on on considered one of our articles, you may find yourself with more primary questions than which Roku you need to get or how the newest one performs. You may as an alternative ask: what is Roku (or “a Roku,” or no matter), anyway? In reality, we all know that you simply’re asking this, because a bunch of you’re asking us in individual, on the web, or not directly by way of net searches. Good news: we’re here to answer.

What is Roku?

Roku is a model identify, however – considerably confusingly – it refers to some various things directly:

  • Roku is the identify of the corporate behind Roku merchandise
  • Roku is the identify of the streaming platform that runs on all Roku units
  • Roku is the model identify of the units themselves

That’s somewhat bizarre, but we’re going to break issues down for you right here. We’ll explain the difference between a streaming platform and a streaming system, after which we’ll introduce you to all the issues it’s essential to find out about Roku – the platform and the units, too!

How Does Roku Work?

An important thing to know about Roku is this: Roku units exist to run the Roku platform.

So what’s the Roku platform? How does Roku work? To elucidate, it’d help to offer a bit of historical past lesson.

A Temporary History of Roku

Let’s go method, means again in time to the late 2000s – 2007, to be actual. That was when Netflix made the fateful determination to introduce a new function. Netflix – which was then an internet site that allowed subscribers to lease DVDs by mail – made some films obtainable to stream online throught their web site. It was the first time any firm had completed such a factor.

Watching Netflix on a pc was cool, but most individuals favor to observe films on, you already know, their TV. So an electronics firm referred to as Roku came up with an answer. They built a bit box that you may plug into your TV. The box was principally a bit of pc, and it ran a simple platform – an working system, principally – that would run purposes. Netflix wrote an software for the platform, and voila: Roku made it an entire lot easier to observe Netflix in your TV, as an alternative of just on your pc.

As time glided by, each Netflix and Roku met with plenty of new competitors. Nowadays, Roku’s platform performs host to apps for all types of providers: Amazon, HBO, Hulu, Crackle, and an entire lot extra. And there are other platforms that compete on your streaming dollars, too: you possibly can watch Netflix and the remaining on Hearth TV units as an alternative of Roku ones if you’d like.

The Roku Platform

An essential thing to recollect right here is that neither the Roku platform nor the Roku gadget is synonymous with Netflix. Netflix is a service that you could subscribe to; you possibly can watch it on Roku in the identical method that you could watch it in your pc or in your iPhone or on any variety of different units. Roku’s position right here is simply to make it straightforward for you to entry Netflix and watch it in your TV.

And Roku makes loads of totally different units, which it updates periodically with beefier hardware and new features (the platform itself gets upgraded once in a while, too). All of Roku’s units run the Roku platform, which seems pretty much the identical on every of them. You possibly can run the Roku platform on a tiny Roku Categorical, or on a Roku Extremely, or on a 55″ TCL Roku TV – it’s all the same platform, and you may watch all the same providers on the units. The differences are in issues like features and determination (for example, you gained’t get 4K picture quality out of a Roku Categorical).

If it helps, think of it this manner: Roku’s units are like PCs, the Roku platform is like Home windows, and the apps (Roku calls them “channels”) are like the person software packages you’ll be able to install on Home windows. Roku doesn’t run Netflix: it just sells units that run a platform that Netflix (and an entire lot more) can, in turn, run on.

In a second, we’ll speak about what channels you will get on Roku – both within the sense of “apps” and of familiar network TV channels. However, first, let’s speak concerning the different huge factor that Roku (the corporate) uses Roku (the brand) for: hardware!

The Roku Units

Read more about Roku units on our Roku system page, which also has extra details about Roku’s streaming platform and different choices!

What Channels Does Roku Have?

Roku calls its purposes “channels” in a nod to the acquainted terminology of cable TV. But Roku Channels are really just apps: they exist that will help you access content from particular person third-party providers (for probably the most part, anyway – nitpickers will observe that Roku does have a couple of channels of its own that it uses to advertise sure forms of content material it needs you to see).

So what channels does Roku have – what apps work on it? An entire bunch:

  • Subscription Video on Demand: Netflix, Amazon, HBO, Hulu, and the rest of the large canine are right here. Subscribe online (or on the channel on your Roku system) and start watching! Keep in mind, Roku helps you handle and access these providers, but they’re unbiased of Roku.
  • Advert-supported Video on Demand: Crackle, Tubi TV, Popcornflix, and extra. These providers can help you watch on-demand content material at no cost – offered you don’t mind viewing some advertisements throughout this system.
  • “Skinny bundles” or Stay TV Streaming Providers: Sling TV, PlayStation Vue, DirecTV Now, fuboTV, and more. These cable-like providers give you reside access to network tv – however they stream online, in order that they’re capable of supply the conent for much less and slim down the cumbersome bundles you may be used to from cable.
  • Single-channel Options: CBS All Access, HBO (which can also be type of an SVOD service), and others let you subscribe directly to a selected channel’s reside and on-demand content material.
  • League Streaming Providers: Watch reside out-of-market games on MLB.TV, NBA League Move, and NHL.TV. MLS fans, your service is rolled into ESPN+.
  • TV All over the place: Many network television channels supply on-demand streaming to people who get their channel by means of a pay TV subscription. Look for an app in your favourite channel! Remember that you’ll should validate these TV all over the place apps with a pay TV login. Luckily, a thin bundle login will typically do exactly high quality, so crawling again to cable isn’t essential.
  • Non-video Providers: Need to stream music? Play primary video games? Placed on soothing screensavers? There’s extra than just video streaming out there on Roku.
  • …and extra! Roku’s large library is just too giant to cowl in full here. Take a look at our catalog of Roku channels to look and discover extra.

What Options Does Roku Have?

Roku’s platforms and units are very, very impressive. There’s a purpose that Roku’s offerings routinely recieve excessive marks in our evaluations, and there are plenty of causes that we frequently describe ourselves as massive followers of the corporate. We’ll be the first to pounce when Roku makes a misstep, nevertheless it’s arduous not to be impressed with the options you’ll discover on this platform and these units. Listed here are some highlights:

Use the App

We’re on report as saying that the most effective Roku distant alternative is the Roku app. The cellular app has a built-in distant management and allows some features – like personal listening and voice management – that aren’t obtainable on the actual remotes that come with some cheaper Roku models. On prime of that, there are content discovery options and different perks built proper into the app.

Converse to Roku

Need to search for something on Roku? Need to launch an app? Use the voice controls built into many Roku models.

Roku Internet Necessities

By now, we’ve defined what Roku units are for and the way they work. Since these are streaming units, you’ve little question inferred that you simply want an web connection to make use of a Roku gadget. But there are other internet-related questions which are a bit much less primary that “do you need internet to use Roku,” so let’s take a moment to talk about Roku internet necessities.

Generally, you’ll have a extra nice experience with Roku the quicker your web is. You’ll also have a extra pleasant experience the stronger (and quicker) your property community connection is – a lightning-fast internet connection is simply good in the event you can hook up with it, so keep in mind to concentrate to Wi-Fi points, too!

Let’s tackle these issues separately. First up: how fast does your internet need to be to stream on Roku?

Usually speaking, the identical internet velocity requirements we speak about for streaming basically also apply to Roku units particularly.

What does that imply? In a nutshell:

  • For on-demand streaming on Roku in normal definition, you’ll want download speeds of at the very least 5 Mbps.
  • For on-demand streaming on Roku in 1080p or lower quality, you’ll want download speeds of a minimum of 10 Mbps
  • For 4K or reside streaming, you’ll need to be getting speeds which might be extra like 25 Mbps, at a minimum.
  • Don’t overlook to take different units in your network under consideration. If you wish to use a number of related units, add some extra respiration room to these numbers. And if you wish to stream on multiple units at the similar time, goal for a minimum of 50 Mbps – or more, relying on how much you need to do on the internet directly!

These are simply common tips, but they provide a way of what kind of internet speeds you’ll want with Roku. Keep in mind that quicker, in fact, is all the time higher. The minimums listed here are tight matches for the type of visitors we’re speaking about.

Don’t overlook about Wi-Fi, either! In case you have a awful Wi-Fi router, you might be experiencing Roku points which are unrelated to the velocity of the internet service you’re getting out of your modem. Utilizing a wired connection (potential with the Roku Ultra) or enhancing your Wi-Fi sign by shifting or upgrading your router might offer you a greater Roku expertise. This is one thing to think about in case you’re debating Roku Streaming Stick vs. Roku Extremely: whereas comparable in many ways (the Streaming Stick+ even has 4K streaming), one of the key differences between the two is the presence of an Ethernet jack on the Roku Ultra, which allows you to use a wired connection and not worry about any Wi-Fi issues in any respect.

Roku vs. Cable: Using Your Roku to Reduce the Twine

Using Roku and slicing the twine are by no means synonymous: plenty of pleased cable clients (if there’s such a factor) are additionally Roku users, and you may even use Roku to observe reside TV via some cable providers’ Roku Channels (again, that’s Roku’s term for apps). However proudly owning a Roku does make slicing the twine an entire lot easier, and we now have a number of options for replacing cable content material on the cheap with Roku.

Combining Roku Streaming With Free Over-the-Air TV

Longtime readers know that we love free over-the-air TV at the least as much as we love Roku. Free OTA TV provides you access to reside TV that’s broadcast over the air, typically including major network feeds from ABC, CBS, Fox, and NBC. On a Roku TV, you possibly can add OTA to your Roku interface just by plugging an antenna in. But you can too turn OTA into streaming video so as to view it by means of an exterior Roku system. One smart way to do so is to make use of Tablo and the Tablo Roku Channel.

Get a Skinny Bundle!

OTA TV offers you free broadcast channels, but the one solution to get network TV channels – these are the other of broadcast channels, by the best way – is to pay. However, luckily, you don’t should pay cable prices to get these channels. You possibly can as an alternative choose to subscibe to a thin bundle, which can make your stay TV habit an entire lot more reasonably priced.

Take a look at These Free Roku Channels

There are plenty of nice free Roku Channels. We don’t just mean free to download – most Roku Channels are free that approach. We imply free to truly use. Advert-supported video on demand providers, Roku’s own Roku Channel, and other great free channels are yours to discover, they usually’ll make parting with cable an entire lot simpler.