Foreground: a Tivoli Model One AM/FM table radio in our kitchen. Attached to its external input is the remote for the Roku 3 in the theater room (background).
Midground: our den TV playing the 007 movie “Never Say Never Again” (.mp4) on a 1st generation Roku box set on the Plex Channel, which is pulling the movie over wifi from a computer in our office.
Background: our theater room TV playing the same movie over Powerline from the same computer on a Roku 3 (3rd generation), which is transmitting the sound to its remote.
Not seen: In the bedroom, another Roku is playing the same movie from the same computer over wifi.
What you would hear in the kitchen is the radio playing the sound from the theater room. It feels a lot like being at the drive-in.
This particular setup has little practical value unless you really like to listen to movie sound in the kitchen (it’s not bad). But the Roku 3 can also play Pandora, TuneIn radio, or SomaFM radio, which is of value in the kitchen. Furthermore, you can pause either movie or radio from the remote attached to the radio.
In my previous post, I had railed against the Roku 3’s introduction of a new source of wifi interference (“Wi-Fi Direct”) on the same channel as our router, and even tried to put a tinfoil hat on it to block its radio emissions. I have since realized that Roku 3 isn’t significantly stepping on the toes of our wireless router, despite being on the same frequency.
I became sensitized to this potential issue when I previously discovered that our X10 video sender, broadcasting on the same 2.4 GHz band as 802.11b/g wifi, squashed any wifi signals unfortunate enough to be on or near the same frequency.
The Roku 3 is not obtrusive like the lead-footed X10 sender. There are people writing on the Roku Forum who say their wifi was squashed by the Roku 3 (bad previous software update relating to screencast?), but not me.
My mistake was analog thinking in a digital setting. The X10 sender IS analog, and emits energy continuously on its frequency.
Despite the Wifi Analyzer’s graphic that visually lulls you into thinking analog carrier wave, the Roku’s built-in software access point (AP) is only periodically sending out small ID and keep-alive packets on the channel unless it is actively sending content. Even then, there are large, i.e., multi-microsecond gaps between most competing packets.
I have had an occasional issue with jerky playback of .mkv files ripped from DVDs by MakeMKV software. It happens when I use Plex Media Server to transcode them on the fly and send them over wifi to 1st generation Roku boxes. (Of course, by using 802.11g wifi, I am not even up to Plex’s minimum recommended configuration, so that may be a big factor.)
Anyway, I saw that issue recur, noted the high signal strength of the Roku’s AP, read about the problems others were experiencing, then freaked out and presumed Roku 3 was the culprit. It isn’t. As I just proved to myself, two simultaneous video streams (first of “Fawlty Towers” and “The Swimmer” in .mkv, then 007 in .mp4) over our wireless network behave the same way whether Roku 3 is plugged in and transmitting audio or not. (Audio has a much lower bandwidth than video.)
So now I am free to enjoy the Roku 3’s Wi-Fi Direct features.
Being able to plug into the remote (which cuts the sound in the theater room) lets you either listen to the sound privately on headphones, even outside your house, do as I did with the kitchen radio, or plug it into a boombox in the workout room.
You can use the Roku app on your smartphone to stream a slide show of your phone photos to the big screen. You can also use it to stream any sound files on your phone to the big sound system. You can even do both at the same time.
The Roku 3 I bought was refurbished and at a reduced price. I found that the sound was intermittent when I plugged headphones into the Roku remote. But I was able to fix that by spraying a shot of QD Electronic Cleaner (like WD-40 for radios and TVs) into the jack and onto the plug. Handy stuff to have around for scratchy volume controls and tuning knobs, too.
The tinfoil hat wasn’t as becoming as I thought, anyway.