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Roku 2

Ryan Michael Downey

One of the easiest ways to watch American TV stations online is a service called USTV Now. The service, which is available via its home page as well as through apps for XBMC and a private channel

US TV Now Provides US TV Channels Online
US TV Now Provides US TV Channels Online

for Roku allows users to watch an American based cable package overseas. Viewers using the service via a browser can access the basic networks; CBS, NBC, ABC, CW, Fox and PBS for free. Apple TV users can access the service via mirroring and a compatible laptop or IOS device.

Private channel for Roku, Tablets and other devices adds loads of content

Originally published 9/2013, this article has been republished due to repeated questions and the increased interest in Hulu with the Fall TV Schedule launching.

This article is going to focus on accessing the free version of Hulu  at home on TV’s and mobile devices via PlayOn, a multifaceted media server and DMR (Digital Media Renderer) application with many capabilities.

Everybody’s Favorite Next Day Channel
There is not a more popular legal way to watch current TV shows through a computer or mobile device then Hulu. The company which is a joint venture between Disney, Fox and Comcast has millions of users utilizing both the “Freemium” online service and Hulu Plus pay service which was developed as a mobile app for use on tablets phones and select media streaming boxes.

Apples and Apples
There are a few subtle differences between the free version of Hulu when accessed through a computer and Hulu Plus. But one of the obvious differences is that one does not have to pay to access Hulu while using a computer. For 7.99 per month Hulu Plus also provides its users with full seasons of many current shows and even shows long since cancelled along with a wider selection of movies. It’s programming is available on the go through a smart phone or tablet and at home through a streaming devices which include game consoles, Roku products and Apple TV, Fire TV and the Chromecast through wireless devices. Both services allow users to view shows after they air on broadcast television.

It seems that as long as one is anchored to a desktop or even lugging a laptop the company will give you a break, but you pay a monthly “convenience tax” for the ease of portability. Remember when a slim laptop seemed like a portable convenience? This appears to be the unifying theory of the Hulu universe. But like many seemingly absolute theories further research sometimes opens another path.

How can I use the free version of Hulu?

Enter PlayOn.  PlayOn is a media server based app for multiple platforms produced by Media Mall which allows users to access an entire universe of official and third party apps on their televisions and mobile devices. For our full article on PlayOn click here The app requires users to download a simple to install media server program to an internet connected laptop or desktop computer. Once installed one can stream content to many devices including, Roku boxes, Google TV, tablets, phones or even be utilized on dedicated HTPC’s, computers connected to TV’s for home theater entertainment purposes. For a complete listing of compatible devices see  Playon’s official site click here

In order to utilize PlayOn on an HTPC it is helpful to have some sort of media center software such as XBMC or Windows Media Center. The computer must either be wired in to the same router or have a wireless card.

The PlayOn channel for Roku has many options but one of its most popular features is Hulu and like I said, this is the free version that you would otherwise only access via a computer. The reason this works on streaming boxes and mobile devices is that the actual media is being fed to the devices from a computer instead of directly from the internet. Playon is built from Microsoft’s windows explorer so Hulu’s website interacts with the program the same way it would directly accessing from a PC based browser instead of shifting the user to a mobile based web portal. If you are a user who generally utilizes Hulu online to catch up with shows week by week then utilizing Hulu’s Free content via a TV or tablet may be the perfect solution for your media needs. The free offerings include current shows from all major networks excluding CBS, who is not a partner with Hulu. Along with the traditional networks many cable offerings are also available. The app behaves differently depending on what platform you are utilizing it on. For Instance the app/channel for Roku utilizes a side scrolling method similar to many other Roku apps while the apps for IOS and Android devices and  are optimized for a mobile platform. XBMC explores Hulu with a simple to follow list.

Where can I get the App
The PlayOn app is free to download but in order to utilize all of its features you must purchase the program. The company offers numerous special offers including lifetime access keys for $50.00 or less. Free Mobile Apps for phones and tablets are available via iTunes store, Google Play Store as well as the Blackberry  official app store. The PlayOn Roku Channel can be added to your Roku via PlayOn’s own website or by clicking here. Once there, users are linked to Roku’s add on screen and prompted enter a short code.  I personally purchased the program over a year ago and have used it on android tablets and an iPad and a Roku.

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Roku has a number of free Spanish language channels.

1. Roku is not a cable box
Customers looking to save money on their cable subscriptions sometimes look to Roku as a replacement for a cable box. Roku This is not what the Roku isdesigned to do. There is one caveat. Time Warner Cable has a Roku channel that works in tandem with the companies cable boxes. Customers who have at least one cable receiver can add the TWC channel to their Roku and access their cable channels via the Roku. This can be a fee free option for customers looking to add HBO go access to a guest room or another television in the home. As of now there are no other companies with such an arrangement.

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FilmOn, the controversial and popular app found on XBMC and other media server programs is again available for Roku set-top boxes as a private channel. This is not the first instance of FilmOn that has been available for Roku and we do not know if its addition will be a permanent one. But until we are informed otherwise we can report that the channel is in fact active. Learn more about it and how to get it bellow.

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you have kids in the home? Finding content for kids can be a challenge without a good lay of the land and for families that depend on streaming it can be difficult to navigate the choices. Summer vacation will be here before you know it and if your family is like mine, you may not have an unlimited  budget for major family trips, day camps and other activities, and there will also be days where it is too hot or rainy to be outside. Today we give you our top ten kids apps for Roku for days when we are all stuck inside. This article will tell you whether the app is free or paid and try to help paint a picture of what one might find.  Enjoy!

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February and March have been full of speculation about the future of the set box market. Rumors surrounding Apple TV and Amazon have been at the center of most of the speculation but there has yet to be an announcement by either company three months in to the new year. The company that has been busy this year is Roku. In the face of never ending rumors of an Apple TV set Roku announced its own branded TV sets at the CES in January.This was  followed in March with the release of the HDMI version of the Roku stick seemingly meant to compete with the Chromecast at the lower price point of 49.99. Does the company have anything else planned going forward?

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Ryan Michael Downey

If you are a Roku owner who has not discovered the joy of private channels then you are missing out on a lot of fun and Roku interesting content. Did you know that some of Roku’s most popular channels began as private channels? Plex, which is consistently ranked as a top 10 Roku channel, began as a private channel and now is prominently offered as a suggested channel for new users. For a little more info on Plex click here. PBS is another hugely popular Roku channel which existed as a private channel until the network jumped on board officially. There are private channels for both video and audio Podcasts, 24 hour news channels, sports channels and more. Almost all of them are free and they offer content you can’t find in the official channel store.

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As Hulu Plus continues to revamp its interface to be more usable in a TV and tablet environment the service has added new categories to its main menu choices to its Roku interface. The categories are displayed at the top of the page. The new look debuted in May of 2013 and included categories for  Kids, TV, Movies, Que and Search. Recently the service has added more sub categories that further simplify content discovery as well as placing an emphasis on its own original programming.

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Ryan Michael Downey

What Ever Happened to that Apple TV and Roku Killer?
We have pointed out repeatedly on this site that simply labeling a product as a the “killer” of an already established brand does not Samsung Logo Picmake it so. One such ballyhooed Killer that debuted in the past year was  an item to take on Roku  line and Apple TV. No not the Chromecast. We are talking about the Samsung HomeSync. The last time I stepped in to a Best Buy there were three models of the Roku for sale The Roku 1,2,3 and the current Apple TV was also prominently on display as was the Google Chromecast, but the HomeSync was nowhere to be seen, maybe it was sold out.

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The second season of House Of Cards will debut today as Netflix continues its march towards building its own library of coveted programming.House of cards Pic 2 For those who have yet to begin watching the series or even those who are already took it in, Netflix has integrated DVD/Blu-ray like audio commentary tracks. This is a fun option for those looking for insight on the writing and creation of the show. After garnering 3 Emmy nominations anticipation for the second season it high. Netflix which sees itself as an Internet based TV station as apposed to simply a video service has been aggressively adding content and experimenting with new pricing plans. Will people be spending Valentines with Frank?

Click here to sign up for Netflix.