I still haven’t gotten around to having our house wired for internet. But I wanted to see how much a wired Ethernet connection (vs. wifi) would improve the performance of a Roku box.
I found a refurbished Roku 3 on sale at Woot! and picked one up. This is the top of their line, but the reason I wanted it was for the wired Ethernet connection (and a 5x faster processor). I connected it to a Windows 7 computer by gigabit switch.
The Roku 3 also boasts a remote with headphone jack for private listening, and direct cast to TV from the Roku app on your smartphone.
These features were the source of a ridiculous problem. Ridiculous, because it never should have gotten out of the lab this way.
I noticed on my Wifi Analyzer app that there was a new item on our current wifi channel 11: the Roku itself. It was broadcasting on our channel,
jamming it, resulting in degraded wifi performance. (see the next post for a correction to this.)
No need for any transmission at all since my connection is wired (unless you want to use the direct cast feature or headphone attached to the remote). But it turned out that I couldn’t shut wifi off. In fact the only way to stop it was to unplug the Roku 3.
I did some Googling and found that others discovered this, too. The best and most current thread is this one from Roku Forums:
No workaround has yet been found besides a “Faraday cage”. This consists of blocking the transmission with a metal screen. Aluminum foil was mentioned as working for one poster.
So I tried it. I covered up everything I could, leaving the wires sticking out the back and a little hole for the infrared port.
As you can see at left, the Roku’s own wifi was attenuated somewhat, but not enough to stop it from interfering. (The readings were taken beside an older Roku box in the den.)
I think I will go back to the Roku LT until Roku pushes out a software or firmware update to let you turn off wifi.
Roku probably should have used Bluetooth to implement these features. Or, considering how cluttered the 2.4GHz band is, they probably should have just left the features out, or made them work only on the 5 GHz band.
(By the way, the Roku 3 on wired Ethernet connection worked well. I was trying a semi-competitor to Plex, called Media Browser. MB was able to play a Windows TV (.wtv) recording smoothly, once the puny Celeron processor in my mom’s old Win 7 computer transcoded and buffered enough of the file for it to get started.)
Bulletin for all cranks: you are going to have to do better than a tinfoil hat if you want to keep the NSA from monitoring your mind.
(See the next post for a retraction of the comments about my degraded wifi performance. But I still wish there were a capability to turn off Roku 3’s wifi.)