Tuesday, September 3, 2013

YouTube on Plex for Roku

We just bought a Roku player.  Previously we had our computer hooked up to the TV so it was so easy to pull up whatever I wanted to watch (YouTube, Hulu, Netflix) and watch them. But my husband started school again this week and wanted to move the computer in the bedroom for privacy to study. So we wanted somehow to watch TV in the living room.
We were debating between a smart Blu-ray player and the Roku. The smart player has all the same apps as the Roku plus YouTube (at least the Samsung one) which is one of the channels I use the most so it was a tough decision. We were looking at the basic Roku which is $50 and the Blu-ray player was $90. Since we're on a budget the Roku seemed the better option but I kept debating whether we needed the actual Blu-ray player for playing discs and also whether I could find a way to watch YouTube. Since my husband wants to get a PS4 (Robbie beat our PS3 to death) in the next year, I didn't want to waste the money on the actual player. $40 may not seem like a lot of money to some people but I didn't want to spend the money if we weren't gonna use the player in a few months. Plus the Roku is small so we can "hide" it from Robbie.  The Blu-ray player would have to lay flat and we'd have to figure out how to keep it out of Robbie's reach, as he literally killed the PS3 by hitting it (sounds so violent!) 

So we chose the Roku (Target didn't have the base model so we got the Roku 2 HD for $60) and rigged it above our TV out of Robbie's reach. I had Googled how to put YouTube on the Roku and it seemed easy enough. It involves an official app called Plex (which is awesome!) At first I used the option where you can pull up the video you want to watch on a computer, then "bookmark" it. Then I found it worked better to use the option to email the links to my Plex server with an email they provide to you. This was kinda cumbersome and I wanted to work automatically, as the Blu-ray player would.  I kept searching for a way and one option I found suggested many times was to send the RSS YouTube feed to the Plex email. I tried using Digg and it was successfully creating the feed but it wasn't sending to the Plex email (as far as I could tell.) I kept trying the RSS feed on multiple websites but it wasn't working. I continued Googling with different search phrases and I would see people talking about a YouTube app on the Plex forums but had no idea what they were talking about. A YouTube app? They weren't specific as if it was a secret! I finally searched "Plex YouTube app" and found this post from "The Beer's on Comcast" that made me go "DUH!" I went to the Plex server and there is a bunch of "channels" you can download! On the most popular tab there was the YouTube app straight up! How had I not found this solution days earlier? It was not so blatantly stated that "Plex has a YouTube app/ channel that allows you to stream extremely easily!" I feel soooo silly that I tried all those RSS and emailing the links when I just took like one minute to setup the channel and it was there! Now instead of having to copy and paste the URLs in a email, it updates automatically! I'm starting to really love the Roku. So far we're pretty much using the apps that we used on the computer like Netflix, Spotify and now YouTube (through Plex.) Plus with Plex, you can treat your computer as a server for the Roku and stream video and music from the files in your computer! Yes, the computer has to be turned on to act as the server but it was on all day before when we used it with the TV anyway. The Roku also has hundreds of "official" apps like HBOGo but also even more unofficial apps. It'll be fun to explore all the options as  becoming quite the technophile (lover of technology)! 
I hope this helps someone as it was terribly overly complicated for me to find this extremely easy solution to YouTube on Roku!

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