Daydreaming about nabbing a Roku 3, but have a few Q's.
March 18, 2013 2:58 PM   Subscribe

I think a Roku 3 is what I want: A little box that'll sit next to my TV and feed me media. But I also have a few special needs...

Need 1: Can I stream from my laptop to Roku? I download quite a bit of TV. If I have a file on my laptop, can I be like "Hey ROKU, play this on whatever you're hooked up to!"

Need 2: Can I screen mirror? i.e., if I've got STEAM running and I'm playing Bioshock or whatever, can I use Roku to mirror the content to my TV?

Bonus Q: If Roku doesn't do these things (Either natively or via an app), what does? Or am I asking for a miracle?

Note: I'm running off a PC, so Apple TV is a no-go.
posted by GilloD to Technology (11 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
No. Generally speaking that is not what Roku is for; it is much more pitched to people who want to watch streaming video WITHOUT messing around with a computer. Some models have a USB jack where you can attach a thumbdrive and watch saved videos that way; check the Roku website for acceptable formats, etc.

Why can't you just take a VGA or HDMI out of your computer and plug it into the TV? Your TV will need to have HDMI in anyway if you want to watch anything in HD from the Roku.
posted by Joey Buttafoucault at 3:08 PM on March 18, 2013

I have a Roku 2 XD and use an app called Plex to stream things from my PC to my TV via wireless. Basically, Plex turns your computer into a little media server.

However, I am unable to mirror my screen from my computer onto my TV without a big ol' HDMI cable. I don't know the exact specs on the Roku 3, but I would doubt you would be able to do this.
posted by antonymous at 3:09 PM on March 18, 2013 [2 favorites]

You can't currently do this. Here is a report that this function will be coming soon to some Roku devices (how soon, I don't know).

Why can't you just take a VGA or HDMI out of your computer and plug it into the TV?

Presumably the appeal is in not having to have your computer physically proximate to the TV.
posted by enn at 3:16 PM on March 18, 2013

I just bought a Roku 3 to run Plex. It does a great job playing downloaded video. Can't comment on screen mirroring, that's a surprisingly difficult problem. I think an Apple TV can do that with AirPlay Mirroring to a Mac, with degraded quality. There might be a Roku app store app that'll do it too, haven't looked.
posted by Nelson at 3:17 PM on March 18, 2013

Apparently the Roku 3 hardware supports Miracast, which is Broadcom's answer to Apple's Airplay, although there hasn't been a software update to enable Miracast support yet and Roku hasn't officially announced when that will happen. In the CES demo video here, they should video being streaming via Miracast and Angry Birds being played, but not faster twitch FPS games like Bioshock, so I remain skeptical about latency until it's officially out.

On preview: Enn beat me to it.
posted by bluecore at 3:17 PM on March 18, 2013

1. yes
2. no

Use the aforementioned Plex, works great. I would suggest getting the model with a ethernet jack. that way you're going from Your laptop to router via WiFi, but from router via ethernet.

As far as mirroring, there are devices that do (Roku does not) that but i don't know how well it would work with gaming.
posted by pyro979 at 3:17 PM on March 18, 2013

Why can't you just take a VGA or HDMI out of your computer and plug it into the TV?

That's what I'm doing now, but its a pain in the butt and my laptop is often 20+ feet from my TV. I'd love to just turn on the TV and have access to whats on my laptop. Sounds like Plex would work, but Screen Mirroring is still a dream.

The headphone jack on the remote, though. That's a killer feature for those of us whose ladyfriends fall asleep in the middle of a movie.
posted by GilloD at 3:24 PM on March 18, 2013

Need 1 :: Even though you have a PC, I believe you can to do this with AppleTV. You put the file into iTunes and tell iTunes to stream to the AppleTV. I do this at my place (with my Mac) and it works nicely. You can also use the Apple remote to play/pause/choose another file, which is handy for lazy days on the sofa.

Need 2 :: Not supported by AppleTV, but AirParrot supposedly lets you screen mirror from Windows. I haven't used it and cannot vouch for it; looking around the web suggets it might not be able to do enough fps for something like Bioshock.

Perhaps if you have a friend with an AppleTV, you could give it a try?
posted by Georgina at 5:24 PM on March 18, 2013

Seconding looking to see if AppleTV will work with iTunes on your PC. We got one for the back bedroom because we were propping an iPad on a music stand to watch Netflix while riding exercise bikes, and the sound wasn't strong enough. But the AppleTV streams Netflix and Hulu and is connected to the server where my husband has stashed all of our ripped DVDs (I swear, the man is totally averse to watching from a physical disc if he can rip it and stream it), and it also streams directly from the iPads if we've got media on them like video we've bought from the Great Courses, or YouTube...which technically has an app on the AppleTV, but it's hard to find stuff easily with it.

My husband says that you can stream games from fairly recent Macs running Mountain Lion--just mirror to the AppleTV. That might include sound, but he hasn't tried yet. He also says you might be able to hack the AppleTV to allow your PC to do it, and there's an active AppleTV hacking community (as in lots of people doing it, as opposed to one specific place) out there on the intarweebs that should be able to tell you how, if it's possible.
posted by telophase at 6:10 PM on March 18, 2013

I think this is what WiDi and Miracast are for, so if the Roku 3 enables Miracast you should be able to do it. Alternatively you could test a WiDi dongle and see if it handles the games with a decent framerate?

As I understand it WiDi comes built in in the new Intel chips [Ivy Bridge] and basically replaces the HDMI cable with a custom WiFi connection. So Airplay...
posted by xqwzts at 4:07 AM on March 19, 2013

Have you considered a Western Digital TV Live box?

I haven't checked out the Roku 3, but setting up the 2 to stream or share files from my home PC'
s was a PITA. I ended up purchasing the above mentioned box to replace it. It doesn't do screen mirroring (I doubt that would work very well for gaming anyway due to lag issues, especially if it streams over your home network.) So far, the WDLive has been able to play every filetype and codec I've thrown at it - no conversion needed.

The WD box can access network shares, or you can plug an external hard drive into it which you can access from any other computer on the network. I just hooked a 1TB drive into mine and save all of my TV-Watchable media onto it. This keeps my PC space free and makes it easy to just unplug the HDD and take it with me should the desire arise.
posted by Th!nk at 9:49 AM on March 19, 2013 [1 favorite]

« Older How can I efficiently harvest Google's entire...   |   David Letterman's tortoise shell frames Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.