Refining the Synth1 brass patches.
Recently, I have acquired a Roku 3 device after hearing it from a coworker. After crunching some numbers, I have discovered that there are various channels on the Roku box that I can subscribe to and I would end up with a more preferred content at a lower cost than my current cable subscription. I currently have basic cable, and I already use Netflix a lot more than my cable.
This is my adventure on getting a cost-effective TV entertainment solution. Including how to get streaming services outside of the US network. For those of you unfamiliar, Netflix Canadian content is horrible.
Prior to the Roku 3, I owned an Android Stick device MK808B. This was my main TV media center, I have Netflix and XBMC installed. While this hardware solution is cheap ($45 bucks for MK808B, $20 for Android compatible air mouse remote), there were few issues. The Netflix for Android has low quality, this seems to be a software limitation as they have recently started rolling out Netflix HD streaming for new Nexus 7 HD. A fellow XDA developer have also created a hacked Netflix allowing higher bitrate streaming. My biggest gripe though, is the software itself, it's horrible user interface is the reason why I was seeking for a new solution. The Android stick was also not very TV-ready, meaning that Android image for the stick still required the "touch" interface to be navigated efficiently. The air mouse I paired with the stick is great, but definitely not efficient. The UI needs to be cursor key ready, and that's where Android apps will fail as TV Media Center.
I'm not going to bother discussing why I picked the Roku 3 over the competitive products like the Apple TV or the ASUS Google TV, at the end of the day, it's all about preference. I will say that I chose the Roku 3 over the other cheaper models (Roku, Roku HD, Roku 2) since it has an ethernet port. I'm concerned about streaming HD content so I decided that an ethernet port would be a plus. In hindsight, this may not have been necessary as the hotel wifi I tested initially with seemed sufficient. (Yes, I bought it in the US because we Canadians get shafted with consumerism in every possible way). You would also choose Roku 2 and Roku 3 for 1080p as opposed to the 720p found on the Roku and Roku HD if you're obsessive compulsive with pixels. I wouldn't have mind a 720p but only the Roku 3 supported ethernet.
Getting the US network is the challenge. My coworker had informed me of Video Streaming DNS services like unblock-us. But it comes with a $5/month price tag. Yes it's considered relatively cheap, but I wondered if a cheaper alternative is possible since I've been meddling with networking for some time now. Now I'm no expert in networking, but I have enough knowledge to set up more than your average home networks. I've also been using SSH tunnels for the longest time as socks proxies to bypass browser based geolocation restrictions. How tough can getting Roku to stream US content for free be? Well it turns out it's not quite easy but definitely doable.
I had known that ROKU 3 does not support any proxy or even network configurations natively, so I had always known that an extra router would be required (I only want some services to be behind US proxy). Luckily I had recently bought a new router since the ISP provided router was garbage, this router was left behind by the previous owners of the condo so that basically means I can do whatever the hell I want with it. This ISP provided router DLINK G3810BN would reject connections past a certain threshold of connections. Maybe there were stale connections that wasn't being closed properly or I just had too many services running in my home network so I decided it was time for a new one. I ended up getting the RT-N56U. Great router, all dropped connection issues went away. Using this as the master router behind the modem. I could go ahead and flash some custom firmware but I didn't want to risk bricking this expensive router. So I've got DLINK to work with... but to my surprise this router can be flashed with custom firmware. Through research, openwrt is supported on this device, so I proceeded to OpenWrt 12.09 on it.
Part II (Setting up the network) of this adventure is coming soon!
Hi, I'm Kaiyoti. But the name is Paul Chen. I'm a musician, a programmer, a gamer, a web guy, a redditor, and some other stuff...
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