My Top 5 less than obvious Roku channels

rokuThere are a number of streaming set-top boxes on the market these days. My box of choice happens to be the Roku. These are a few of my must-have Roku channels beyond the obvious (Netflix, YouTube, Hulu+, etc.) ones that everyone uses.

1) RARflix
RARFlix is is amodified version of the official Plex channel. Unlike the official channel, which now requires that you purchase it, RARflix is completely free. All you need is a computer running Plex Media Server. The official channel is decent, but RARflix offers a nicer, more customizable interface. RARflix is currently not listed in the Roku channel store, and must be loaded as a private channel.

2) Instant Watch Browser for Netflix
The Netflix channel on Roku, while very good at streaming video from Netflix, is absolutely terrible about showing you what’s new. Instant Watch Browser fixes this by giving you Roku a tool for viewing not only new releases (and adding them directly to your watch list), but showing you what’s coming soon to Netflix, and what’s getting ready to expire. It also let’s you browse by genre, actor, director, and other categories. Instant Watch Browser is not a free channel (though there is a free “Lite” version that lacks some of the paid version’s features), but if you’re a heavy Netflix user, it’s worth the one-time payment (currently $3.99). A public channel, this one you can purchase straight from your Roku in the channel store.

3) channelPear
channelPEAR is a cloud-based media library. All content is user submitted, so you never know what you might find. There are livestreams of free-to-air television, movie and TV show collections, channels that show 24 hour cartoons, and more. channelPEAR must be loaded as a private channel.

4) Roku Media Player
Available in the Roku channel store, Roku Media Player lets you browse and play content from any USB storage device you happen to plug into your Roku. Great if your friend brings some movies over on a portable HDD, or if you don’t have the time/technical know-how to set up Plex. It also supports multiple media servers, including Twonky, Windows Media Player, Plex, and Tversity.

5) Amazon Instant Video
Behind only Netflix and Plex, this is one of my most-watched channels. The subscription pricing is on par with Netflix, but it offers some things that Netflix doesn’t. For one, you can purchase or rent shows and movies that aren’t part of the “Free with Prime” collection (this includes numerous current seasons that are still airing… you get access the day after the new episode airs). Your Amazon Prime subscription also gives you access to free 2-day shipping on Prime-eligible items on, access to Amazon Prime Music (similar to Spotify), Amazon’s unlimited cloud-based photo storage, and the Kindle lending library. Overall, it’s a pretty good deal for the price.

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Nikki Blight – Web/PHP Developer