ETA, More Questions. Please Explain Roku to Me

Updated on October 01, 2014
G.B. asks from Oklahoma City, OK
7 answers

Several friends have switched to it and I simply can't figure it out.

What are the monthly charges? Do you have to buy a plan then you pay for certain channels then get a bunch free?

How does it work? Do you have to have internet?

I went to and it wasn't very forthcoming. Buy this thumb drive stick for $50 and watch live stuff!!!! Or buy Ruko 1 and watch TV and stuff!!!

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So What Happened?

I live in Oklahoma where the storms and tornadoes and 100mph+ winds sweep right on top of my house...

I don't have antenna so if I got rid of satellite I wouldn't have local channels to watch weather? I'd really hate to give up my ABC out of OKC> They stay on top of the weather so well for my little town.

But if I had an antenna, I could get them. Would cost several hundred dollars but would last until they stopped broadcasting that signal.

My friends says there are tons of free channels. Okay, but what if the channels you want to watch aren't free? Say I wanted to watch ABC to see Castle. If I had Roku would I be able to turn on the TV on Monday evening at 9pm and catch the new episode?

How do you get the channels that aren't free? Where is a list of those packages? What companies do you get them from?

For satellite we have a set of stations and if we want others we have to buy a higher cost package. Is that an option for Roku? Do they only provide the device then you go to other places to buy packages of channels?

I guess I'm worried that I wouldn't get to watch Castle, NCIS, Agents of Shield, The Listener, and all the shows I like without having to go here and there to find those shows and then pay this one $20 and that one $10 then if I want to have Sci-Fi pay them $15 per month.

Please help me determine if this is a good option, it doesn't sound like it.

What about internet speed? What if it's not so perfect all the time? Is it just too bad and there's no TV at that time?

More Answers



answers from Wausau on

Roku is a device that allows you to stream shows on your TV from other services. There is no monthly charge for Roku, it is just a one time purchase price.

Yes, you must have internet and a wireless router (older models have a LAN option).

If you choose to use Netflix, Hulu Plus or other services (totally separate entities from Roku) then you'd pay for those. There are also free channels that you can add to your menu.

Once you have it set up, it is no more complicated than using your tv as you already do.

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answers from Tampa on

Just my two cents. I love Roku...we are just using the "stick" which was on sale for around 40.00. We didn't get a box because the sales person at Best Buy basically told us the only major difference is you get a headset for private listening (maybe there is more to it, but can't remember). The stick is just like a usb stick that goes in the side of the tv. There is a power cable on the other end that goes into an outlet. Once connected, follow the instructions to set up. We just got rid of our DirectTv as our family is content with the movies and TV shows on Netflix. These are generally behind a season, by the way, so no, if you are waiting for a Network Season Premier then you would miss out. Kids wanted Hulu, etc, but other than Netflix we are not willing to get any of the other "pay" channels. I am thrilled because, like others who posted, the shows are commercial free, are shorter because of this, and the variety is huge. I, too, get my news from the internet and am set up for weather alerts from my phone. If the internet goes down (which happens during storms) then no tv, but that's not the worse thing, right?

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answers from San Antonio on

This is the only way we watch tv, let me give you a quick run down of how it works. :-)

It is a small black box that attaches to your tv and to your internet connection (either with a cord into the wall or on the box becasue I think their are two different to plug in and one for using wifi).

Once you hook it up to your tv and internet it offers you access to many many different channels. Some are free like PBS, TEDTalks and weather channels. Other channels you subscribe to like Netflix, HuluPlus, or Amazon Instant Streaming.

We paid around $60.00 for our Roku at a big box store years ago. Now we pay $8.00 a month for Netflix, and $8.00 a month for HuluPlus, and $36.00 for our internet. Our "cable bill" is $52.00...and we would have internet anyways so really $16.00 a month. Right now we have Amazon Instant Streaming on a free trial period, but won't keep it for $10.00 more a month.

It is really a plug and play device. Easy to set up.

My husband and I don't watch sports (so that can be a deal breaker if you have cable for that purpose) and we don't mind watching our primetime shows a day after they are played on cbs, nbc or other channels. It takes Hulu about 24 hours to post new shows. Like for instance, I watch aired last night the first new episode of the season. I will watch it tonight on Hulu.

I hope this can ask me any other questions via PM. :-)

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answers from Las Vegas on

My husband uses it for movies. I think there are some TV series on there too. It has a pretty good selection, but not every movie is available on it. He has a Roku box that is hooked up to the Internet. He had to explain to the telephone/Internet guy what his needs were and they hooked it up.

I think it is linked to my Internet box.

My daughter uses Hulu. My husband went over there and hooked the TV to the Internet and she can access it via the computer or TV. She does not have satellite or cable, so she cannot access local channels. She cannot even get a news channel and I think the shows are a day old. I think she pays $10 a month or something minimal.

I don't know how to use that box, don't have the patience for it, and have no interest in learning. I rent movies from the library and watch them on my computer while I work from home.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Washington DC on

Glad you clarified because no, you can't turn on the TV and see "Castle" at 9:00 on Monday on network TV when it's initially being broadcast fresh and new -- not on Roku, at least not that I know of!

You do have to have Internet service. Roku is a streaming service of shows and movies but does not provide your local network affiliate channels; you can see their shows only eventually, when they are finally done broadcasting them and make them available via streaming. Same idea as waiting for a show to come out on DVD when the broadcast season is over on its network.

You get a huge catalog of what's in their library of TV shows and movies, so for instance you wouldn't see this whole season's episodes of "Castle" until the broadcast season on ABC is over and it's made available as a package on Roku probably next spring or summer. Some shows may be made available sooner, as the season progresses; I'm not sure. I know that ones we want to watch sometimes take many months to update with new episodes.

You can get Netflix, Amazon Prime, PBS streaming, and other channels, some of which are cool and some of which are freaky.

We use the Netflix a lot and the free services such as PBS streaming on there (again, not "live" PBS from the local affiliate station, but PBS programs that are done on TV and now are available to stream). But it can be quite a wait. For instance, we watched all of the first few seasons of "White Collar" months ago, and so far, the following seasons have not yet been made available for us to stream via Roku/Netflix. We could order the DVDs in "hard copy" format and have Netflix mail them to us (it's a rental, not for keeps) but we'll probably just wait for the show to turn up on streaming.

One thing to know is that HBO does not let Netflix stream any of its shows so if you like HBO programming, it's not on Netflix, period, so I'm told. It may be available by DVD but not via streaming.

I would not give up my local TV news and replace it utterly with streaming. We do not have cable or satellite but use an antenna for local TV. Since antenna TV is not an option for you, maybe look around at how good your local stations are at broadcasting over the Internet. That's where I go for urgent weather alerts. But Roku isn't for you if you like to keep up with a TV show week by week as it's broadcast -- you'd have to wait quite a while for it to turn up on streaming. Some networks do make things available online in full episodes for a short time after initial broadcast! Not sure if ABC does that but NBC does it on Hulu for about one week after things are first broadcast (then the show disappears). Or at least NBC used to do that -- havent' tried Hulu for a while.

Hope this helps.

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answers from Williamsport on

You pay once from about $60 to $100 for the Roku device, which is a little black box and remote control. You hook it up to your TV and your internet, so it accesses channels for you. You use your remote control to choose the channels, shows, episodes, etc.

We have MANY free channels and the only paid one I subscribe to is Netflix which is about $10 per month. So basically our entire monthly TV/movie billI is $10.

I haven't had any satellite or cable in 4 years. I get my live news from computer. Once in a blue moon I miss live TV stations for things like the Olympics or Thanksgiving parade, but the overall savings and fact that we aren't inundated with commercials and stupid tv shows WELL makes up for it. And you can always see highlights of live things you miss on youtube anyway.

I LOVE ROKU because I watch what I want, when I want, with no commercials. Hour long shows are like 40 minutes. Half hour sows are like 20 mins. I've seen all the great PBS series, HBO and SHowtime series I wanted, and of course, movies. And I stream music on Pandora or NPR news through nice TV speakers. There is way more available through the Roku than I would ever have time to watch, so I've never bothered to subscribe to anymore "paid" channels than Netflix. And I think you can stream free Amazon movies if you have Amazon Prime...

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answers from Albuquerque on

We have a roku 2, I may have to look into the roku 3, I don't know about the live stuff. So basically you just buy the box and plug it into your tv, you do have to register it with some kind of bank card/ credit card also. And yes you do need to have high speed internet. So once you have it then you can browse the "channels". Some are free and some you have to pay for. The free channels are older content, documentary stuff, kid stuff etc. These are a different entity from Roku. So for example, if you want to watch Castle or any other local channel show, you can watch it on hulu plus a day after it airs. For cable shows you need to wait until after the season is over and watch it on Netflix, depending on the show. I think maybe you could purchase from amazon prime too but you mentioned that you don't want a bunch of subscriptions. I would think you could get weather info from your local news channel website, right? It really sucks that you can't just put a cheap antenna to watch local channels. We have a $12.00 antenna on ours and it works fine. Anyway Netflix, hulu plus, and amazon prime have free trial periods, that may help you decide, you could check it out on your computer before you decide on buying the Roku.

ETA: just wanted to add, Roku has a free weather channel too where it states temp., wind speed, etc. Not sure how accurate it is in comparison to your local station.

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