It’s not a secret that my favorite entertainment device in my entire house is my Roku. Let me clarify.. my 4 Roku’s. We have 2 Roku TV’s (a TV with Roku software baked right in) and 2 Roku devices. There are many things I love about Roku, and the really awesome part is there is a price point for just about every budget.
What really sets Roku apart from a regular smart TV, or other types of streaming boxes is the apps available for Roku (and a couple of other really awesome features). In fact, the main reason I went with Sling instead of DirecTV Now was because DirecTV Now doesn’t have a Roku app. Using a Roku device is also one of the best ways to get 4k content to your new 4k TV, and the Roku Ultra even supports an audio out jack for those times where you don’t want to rely on the TV’s speakers for your sound (which, should be always).
Speaking of audio… Ever want to watch TV in bed after your spouse goes to sleep, but don’t want to disturb them, or want to watch a movie after the kids go to bed, and still have that fully immersive audio experience? The Roku TV’s and Premiere+ and Ultra devices all feature a private listening mode. You can plug headphones into the remote control and listen to your movie or TV show without disturbing anyone else in the house. I’ve got to be honest here and tell you, I kinda use this every single night. My husband works really early in the morning, so he’s often in bed by 8:30 or 9 AM. I sleep in a bit, so I’m usually not tired by then, so I like to sit in bed and watch the shows that he wouldn’t want to see.
Another newer feature, exclusive to the Roku TV’s is the ability to pause live TV! When you have an antenna connected directly to the Roku TV you can pause the TV which would have been really helpful to me during the summer when I was watching the Olympics obsessively!
What I really want to talk about, though, is my favorite apps for the Roku! Basically, just go download all of these, cause they are awesome.
Netflix and Hulu are basically a given at this point. If you don’t have a subscription to both, I just don’t even know how to talk to you anymore. 😉 Netflix is great for TV Series, Disney Movies and original movies and series (please tell me you’ve watched Stranger Things already!). Hulu also has some fantastic original series’ like The Path and 11.22.63. It’s also the best place to catch up on most of your favorite prime time shows, especially if you cut the cord to cable already.
On the second tier (somewhat essential, but we can still be friends if you don’t have these) is Amazon Video (super awesome if you are already paying for Amazon Prime… which you totally should be doing already!) and Vudu. Amazon is releasing some great original content as well, and Vudu is the place I store ALL of my digital copies of movies. You know when a movie you buy at the store says Blu-Ray + Digital Copy. If you aren’t entering those codes in Vudu, you are seriously missing out! Even if you don’t plan on watching the movie through Vudu at the moment. There will come a day you want to, and you’ll be kicking yourself for not redeeming those digital copies!
Next up we have Sling and Plex. Both require a little more effort on your part, and the desire to have the functionality of each. With Plex, you need to set up a Plex server. This is where you can store all the physical DVD’s you have so you can watch them without ruining the discs themselves. You have to have some sort of DVD ripping software installed, and a place to store all the movie files, which I won’t get into in this post, but I will say, I love my Plex server! Sling is more like a cable subscription, and personally I think one of the best way to get some of the cable channels without having a cable or satellite subscription.
Now on to my favorite category… workout apps! My 2 favorites here, by far, are DailyBurn and Beachbody on Demand. DailyBurn has a new live workout every single day, along with tried and true favorites you can use at any time. Beachbody just barely came out with a new subscription model that gives you access to ALL of their award winning workouts for an annual fee of $99. Totally worth it for me. I was paying almost $40/quarter for access to SOME of their workouts, so it was a no brainer to “upgrade” to this new annual plan for me. DailyBurn costs me about $12/month, which I also have been paying for SEVERAL years now.
The last of my essential apps are the Mormon Channel and BYUtv (both because I happen to be LDS, you could check them out too, as they have great content, but if you aren’t LDS you may not be interested in them)
Honorable mentions will go to YouTube and Google Play Movies and TV (as I do have a few digital movies there), and Spotify (for my husband).
It would take a huge stroke of genius to upstage Roku in my house. If you haven’t used one yet, you really should try it out soon!
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Sarah Kimmel has spent the last 16 years of her career as an IT Manager supporting over 100 small businesses. During that time she started Family Tech to help families understand and manage the technology in their home. She has regularly appeared as a tech expert on KSL News, BYUtv and Studio 5, and has been invited all over the world from tech companies like Lenovo, Verizon, Microsoft, Dell, and Samsung. Find out more on her website SarahKimmel.com