A big update for the Plex Roku Channel - Plex Blog

A big update for the Plex Roku Channel

, , | 08 Dec 2012 | by 74 Comments

The Roku is one of our favorite ways to get Plex on the big screen. I actually used to own two Roku SoundBridges back in the day, so my love for the company goes way back. But seriously, what’s not to love about those sexy little boxes? They’re affordable, reliable, and have 1080p output; we know people with 4 of them connected up around their house, all streaming from a Plex Media Server.

Speaking of streaming to multiple devices at once, our friend @andersnorberg conducted an interesting test with the new release of the media server, which has some really nice optimizations to reduce CPU usage. He was able to stream 720p and 1080p content to twelve devices at the same time from one of the new Mac Minis without a problem. He literally ran out of devices without being able to overload the server (see photo below). Got any other crazy stories for us about how you’re running Plex in your underground vampire-themed club in Berlin, or on your laser-shark-equipped 200 foot yacht in the South Pacific? Let us know.

Plex roku

Anyway, we have a nice update to the Plex Roku channel which we’d like to tell you about. As you might know, the channel is open source, and we always welcome contributions. We’d like to give a shout out to flyryan, whose changes we’ve incorporated into this new version. Here is the full list of changes:

  • Some internal re-architecting to use a single message port/loop. Not exciting, but a ton of work and the thing that enabled most of what’s on this list. It also means the code should be a bit cleaner, feel free to contribute!
  • Background audio support: Audio no longer stops playing when you leave the screen on which you started playing it. Among other things, you can listen to music while browsing for videos or more music to play, and you can start a slideshow while the music continues to play in the background. You can navigate to the currently playing audio from the home screen or by hitting the * key on most screens. How cool is that?
  • Remote control: You can actually fling media over to the Roku and control it with another Plex app (this requires an updated media server which will be out in a week or so).
  • Added myPlex recommendations to the home screen.
  • Added global Recently Added and On Deck to the home screen.
  • Additional display preferences, home screen rows and section display rows (all, on deck, unwatched, …) can be reordered.
  • Improved the load time on grid screens.
  • Added preference for subtitle color (soft subs only)
  • Added a delete button, when the media server is configured to allow deletion.
  • TV theme music!
  • Basic support for stacked (multi-part) videos.
  • Small bug fixes around subtitles and surround sound.

We are aware of one high profile bug that has not been addressed yet; some people
see crashes on some files with 5.1 audio. We’re working with Roku to figure
out what’s causing the problem, likely some combination of transcoder and Roku firmware.

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74 Comments so far

  1. Pete Warner December 8th, 2012 12:55 pm

    YES! YES! YES! Thank you for the delete button! I am going to my Roku box to update NOW!

  2. shortguy91 December 8th, 2012 1:02 pm

    just wanted you guys to know that switching the plex app on the roku to 2.0 sound seems to fix that freezing problem. but my videos sometimes still randomly stop playing but all I do is just select play again and my video starts playing again. FYI.

    THANKS GUYS. plex and roku have changed my life

  3. Rodney Wilson December 8th, 2012 1:34 pm

    Does Plex no longer worker on the older Rokus? Been trying to start it all day and it just crashes my box. Really bummed–I use Plex every day.

  4. David Lucas December 8th, 2012 2:05 pm

    It seems my Roku 2 got the update last night and when watching movies this morning it would stop playing and start over at various times in the movie but it never got over 20 minutes. So, I’m not sure if this is the bug you are referring to? Also, I noticed on some movies that it’ll list the movie as “unwatched” but when I selected the movie it started from the beginning and not where it was left off. The Plex Media Client on my Mac Mini had no issues with the same movie.

  5. Andy December 8th, 2012 2:08 pm

    Hi.. I was just wondering how you add a recommendation for a movie. I dont see anywhere to do it?

  6. danl December 8th, 2012 2:15 pm

    Is this the same version that is now crashing all rokus on start except the full version 2s?

    Neither of my v1 units will start Plex they hang and then crash. There’s a thread or 50 in the forums about this.

    Otherwise exciting changes though!!

  7. Jason December 8th, 2012 2:18 pm

    IS there an ETA on continuous play with TV show. Like Plex will play the next episode of a show on its on for maybe 3 or 4 episodes. My son would love this option. It’s all Plex lacks really. I still use my PS3 for that very reason to stream Plex.

  8. elan December 8th, 2012 2:31 pm

    @danl: Nope, this is a subsequent release which fixes that issue :)

  9. elan December 8th, 2012 2:32 pm

    @Rodney Wilson: We ran into an issue with the older ones, and pushed a new update. Should be all good now.

  10. danl December 8th, 2012 2:49 pm

    @elan: Thanks! Can’t wait to try the new features.

  11. Charles December 8th, 2012 2:51 pm

    6 Rokus actually, great little boxes…

  12. thejinx0r December 8th, 2012 3:10 pm

    Wow!
    I got thew roku update pushed and I noticed that it was much snappier as advertised :)

  13. Brian December 8th, 2012 3:15 pm

    Thanks for the update although now my plug in channels such as BBC iPlayer now crash and kick me out of Plex when i select play.

  14. Arbies December 8th, 2012 4:10 pm

    Just wanted to leave a comment to say a big thank you to the developers! Really loving this release… so many new features.

    And to answer Justin’s question, I’m pretty sure you can turn off the theme music in the main preferences in the Roku Plex app. Many new preferences were added, and I’m positive I saw that one there.

  15. stacey stuwe December 8th, 2012 4:51 pm

    I am having the worst time with plex on my roku, when it works it’s fantastic! I think i will love it as much as everyone else does once i figure out what the problem is. (i’m sure it’s something i’ve done wrong!LOL) Some channels don’t play anything at all, even though the info is there. Some channels play fine for a while and just quit on me. Could it be the box?? I have just the basic. I’ve uninstalled and re-installed the media server. I’ve installed the updates. It seems to only want to work when i restart my computer and it kicks the server on automatically. Even then i don’t have access to some channels. Any Advise? I love my Roku’s and i want to love Plex too! Thanks!

  16. Mike December 8th, 2012 6:02 pm

    My 4 Rokus will be very happy..

  17. BB December 8th, 2012 7:27 pm

    The update keeps crashing my Roku, too. How do I downgrade to the previous version?

  18. Jill December 8th, 2012 7:45 pm

    Delete not working for me. Definitely enabled on the server (ReadyNAS). Is this limited to any particular server platform or should it work on all?

  19. Oliver December 8th, 2012 7:57 pm

    It is very disappointing to see the new update still doesn’t address the foreign character encoding issue. Specifically, if there are East Asia (Korean, Chinese) characters in the folder name or title, it doesn’t display and render the channel not usable.

  20. Ulm December 8th, 2012 8:27 pm

    I’ve been having a problem since the 2.5 update where the video periodically stop, and tries to restart. Looking at the logs, it actually says the roku issued a video stop (/transcode/segmented/stop) then tries to restart the video. To make it worse, it also forgets where it was and starts from the beginning (‘Got a request to stop a transocde session without a session GUID’). This is on a Roku 2 XS

    Just FYI…

  21. Ulm December 8th, 2012 8:30 pm

    Justin: In the plex preferences page on the roku, there’s an option under Section Display to disable the theme music. I agree it’s an interesting idea, but my problem is that by default it’s way too loud for browsing. It would be nice if the default volume of it could be set as well.

  22. OptimusB December 8th, 2012 9:15 pm

    Wow… this update didn’t cost anything?! They way plex has been rolling these days I thought for sure this would have been a paid update.

  23. Harman December 8th, 2012 9:16 pm

    The update has screwed up plex for me. I am no longer able to play any new video which I am adding since the channel update. Old added videos still play but for the new ones give the error of unsupported format and enable the sever to help.
    Not sure where the real problem lies

  24. unisonruss December 8th, 2012 9:21 pm

    This update rocks, and so do you! Loving the changes :)

  25. Lion December 8th, 2012 10:59 pm

    **Added myPlex recommendations to the home screen.
    **Added global Recently Added and On Deck to the home screen.

    I really wish that this was an option, to be able to turn it off.

  26. Schuyler December 9th, 2012 6:34 am

    @Oliver: The issue with Asian characters is that the Roku doesn’t have a font capable of displaying them. As Roku is starting to sell more boxes outside the US they’re starting to think more about those sorts of issues, but the history of the box is very much rooted in CP-1252. We may try to figure something out ourselves at some point, but I’d prefer that Roku add decent Unicode support themselves so that we can use that. You could let the Roku folks know that’s something you’re interested in.

  27. Katharsys December 9th, 2012 6:45 am

    So far I am loving the update – except the theme music for TV shows. I cannot find the preference setting to turn down the volume or turn it off! The forum is no help, since it makes mention of options that don’t exist on my player (running a Roku HD – 1st Gen).

    Outside that, wonderful changes. :)

  28. Dave Kokandy December 9th, 2012 9:30 am

    Thanks for the update, but starting today I am no longer able to play content (Movies, TV shows, or Podcasts) via the iTunes Video Channel. Everything still works on my other Plex clients. Please fix this – it is my most-used feature on the Roku app.

  29. Mychal December 9th, 2012 10:43 am

    How can you differentiate between remote video quality and local video quality? Either the myplex content takes a very long to load or the local quality get transcoded and scaled down.

    Hitting the back button after playing a video to get back to the main screen closes plex and the message retrieving (every time).

    You note contributions in the blog, but you didn’t link up where.

  30. Jim December 9th, 2012 12:39 pm

    since the day I got my roku and plex about a year ago, it took a few days to figure out but I love it. As of today though it will only play 7 minutes of any movie or show I’m streaming to it, it crashes and says server unable to play media or something to that affect, but then I can play from the beginning and fast forward to where I was at.

  31. Jimmy December 9th, 2012 4:26 pm

    Will the reductions in CPU usage also apply to NAS based media servers?

  32. Mark December 9th, 2012 7:22 pm

    Was having the “video stops partway through” issue on both of my roku boxes. Uninstalling and re-installing the channel SEEMS to have helped, over an hour of playback with no crashing yet.

  33. Mike December 9th, 2012 10:40 pm

    12 devices on a Mac Mini PMS? I wonder how many my dual quad core xeon Linux PMS could support!?

    AWESOME update to the Roku app, and the recent PMS update too. Keep up the good work!

  34. Nick December 10th, 2012 5:04 am

    I know of a Ukrainian billionaire who uses Plex Media Centre on all 8 of his yachts. It’s actually how I first heard of Plex a year a go.

    Myself, I use it in every room of the house steaming from a Dell R210 server in the garage to Roku’s, Windows PCs, iPads, iPhones and, my latest addition, the new iMac Mini in the living room.

  35. Geo December 10th, 2012 11:13 am

    Makes me want to run out a buy a Roku….

  36. Hedegaard December 10th, 2012 11:44 am

    Have someone seen a link for an video, that shows the new updates for PLEX on a roku, they could share with us?

  37. Jamie C December 10th, 2012 12:39 pm

    This upgrade is stopping my shows and movies about 10min into them. any word to when this bug is going to be fixed. i saw a few posts with the same issue

  38. elan December 10th, 2012 1:31 pm

    @Jimmy: yes.

  39. aRaRa_70 December 10th, 2012 1:38 pm

    Awesome, thanks !!!!!!

  40. Mike December 10th, 2012 3:25 pm

    I see a “Roku 2 XS” showing up on my PLEX/WEB now.. although I haven’t gotten it to work. I’m assuming the aforementioned PMS update may have something to do with it. Also, I have 4 ROKU’s and only one shows. Great job.. Just need the DTS Audio issue resolved and the ROKU client is complete in my book. (Do you need sample files of movies that have this problem?)

  41. Dave Kokandy December 10th, 2012 3:26 pm

    This is a follow-up from my previous post – I was still not able to stream video from iTunes earlier today, but after checking the Channel Store 5 mins ago, I got a Plex update, and I can report now iTunes video playback is working again for me! Thanks, devs!

  42. Jamie C December 10th, 2012 3:27 pm

    @Mark I tried re-installing the channel and I am still running into my videos stopping. Did your issue get fully resolved?

  43. Schuyler December 10th, 2012 9:49 pm

    @Jamie, Mark, Dave:

    Sorry about that, those issues should all be fixed now in the 2.5.2 update (which was released a few hours ago).

  44. Schuyler December 10th, 2012 9:51 pm

    @Katharsys, unfortunately the Roku audio player API doesn’t give us a way to control the volume. It’d be nice, I agree with you. We might have some crazy ideas for how to do it, but I’m not sure they’ll work out. In the meantime, if you want to disable it you can go to the Preferences -> Section Display -> Theme Music.

  45. Schuyler December 10th, 2012 10:07 pm

    @Lion, there are preferences to hide those rows if you don’t like them. Pull up the Preferences and it can be configured in the Home Screen section.

  46. Schuyler December 10th, 2012 10:09 pm

    @Mychal, are you asking about how to contribute? The Roku client is hosted at GitHub, https://github.com/plexinc/roku-client-public

  47. Ellen December 11th, 2012 6:22 am

    I’m not sure if this applies to anyone with Roku issues after the update, but I was having the same trouble – video either giving an error code and not playing at all or starting and kicking off at 10 or so minutes, and when I restarted, I had to FF back to where it left off. I had noticed that instead of “Play” button after selecting a video, it had changed to something like “Live Stream/ Transcode.” So, I went into the settings and found the button for transcoder. I changed it back to “Automatic.” That was it. All issues totally resolved. Hope this helps. Also, I had not been able to play videos from Hulu channel. While in settings, I increased the time available for the video to load – at least that is what I think I did. (Not very tech savvy, me.) It now works again!

  48. Jamie C December 11th, 2012 2:05 pm

    @Schuyler – You guys are truly fantastic! Thanks for the update and super quick fix!

  49. Ross Harrison December 13th, 2012 12:33 am
  50. ron felder December 16th, 2012 9:16 am

    I am having an audio sync issue with the latest PMS software.I am using a Roku 2. If I exit a movie while watching the title and then restart it the audio is out of sync. Should I start the video from the beinning the sync is ok. Should I start the video from the beginning and then fast forward the title and start the movie from the new point the audio is again out of sync.

    This never happened with the previous version of Plex. My girlfriend’s laptop has PMS too and is connected as well to my Roku2. We are both running the same version of PMS. I started a video title that was mostly over and the audio is in sync.

    Any ideas as to what my problem is?

  51. newplex December 16th, 2012 9:21 am

    Can you please tell me how to reorder my added channels / channel list? I added about 10 channels and now I have no way of sorting how they appear left to right. Thanks!!!

  52. fon relder December 17th, 2012 11:55 am

    I too am having the audio sync issue described by Ron above. I have multiple clients and only the Roku is exhibiting the audio sync problem that begins when the video is stopped/started (but not when it is just paused) or fast-forwarded/rewound. Happens across multiple containers (.mkv/.mp4).

  53. Bellicus December 18th, 2012 10:30 am

    Loving Plex on the roku but the delete feature doesnt seem to be working?
    is this still coming out in a new version of PMS?

  54. Romano December 19th, 2012 6:43 am

    Sweet! Thanks flyryan, awesome dude!

  55. ShavenYak December 22nd, 2012 7:17 am

    I have two issues, first is certain movies crash after playing for a while, and cause the Roku to restart. Second is that all the library sections on the main screen display the same image, a movie poster from one of the sections.

  56. william bowman December 27th, 2012 1:31 am

    I kept having this black window keep opening up and everytime i clicked it it kept opening another on my PC so i ended up just uninstalling the media server from my PC…Anyone with a fresh media server link for windows 7 that i can try and reinstall…I just updated my silverlight(though i use chrome for my “plex it” bookmarklet…any feedback would be helpful, Thanks!

  57. Mike W December 29th, 2012 2:20 pm

    Good to see you’re working on the 5.1 issue! That was biting me in the A today and I couldn’t figure out what the issue was!

    Keep up the good work!

  58. Khurram T December 31st, 2012 4:22 pm

    Since the update on my Roku 2 XS, Plex has not been very reliable. More often than not, I would start a video (any video) and it just hangs my Roku. I am not sure if its the server running on my Mac (which also has been recently updated and now displays the library in a browser window) or the Plex client on Roku 2. I really hope that a resolution comes soon enough.

  59. Mark W January 3rd, 2013 12:35 pm

    Amazon had a great deal on the Roku2 XS right before the holidays, so I picked up two to further expand my Plex Connection and to replace my ATV2. After a weekend of frustration with plex consuming nearly 75% of my server’s CPU, I shut down the faild ROKu experiment and returned to my ATV2.

    All said, the ATV2 provides a wholly better experience. When I’m using plex I know what I’m there to do and what I want to see. With the Plexapp the most recent Beta for the ATV2 the UI layout is no contest hands down better for the ATV2. Playback performance? As I said, the Roku crippled my server which had no problems to transcoding or playback prior to the Roku.

    I’ll prolly keep the Rokus just to keep testing the Plex client, but so far the ATV2 wins.

  60. Plex+Roku=Awesome January 3rd, 2013 1:41 pm

    The roku itself is pretty good but with Plex the whole device becomes truly amazing. I have tested the major channels ABC, CBS and Hulu and they work flawlessly. Local media streaming is outstanding. I have been watching Seinfeld on it for days.
    I can finally use my laptop and watch my local media (on the Roku) at the same time. Thank you guys! I wouldn’t mind paying $40-$50 for this. Great job!

  61. Lyle January 21st, 2013 8:14 am

    I really like plex for roku, The best feature is that I can watch so of my shows / videos that I like in HD

    But it still needs a few improvements.

    First of all I add all of these videos to my queue but there is no way to sort them in different categories.

    Second there should be a way to search for the videos that I add.

    Third it does not go to the next video automatically. I would like to see a way to add the videos to the playing queue. That way you can keep the videos going.

    And fourth some video websites I cant add the videos so it kind of defeats the purpose.

    Other than that I do recommend plex, it just needs a few improvements.

  62. Ken January 22nd, 2013 9:21 am

    Love Plex on the ROKU … great job!

    Feature Request : As I get more and more movies on my Plex server… it be nice to have a search feature like the other Roku Channels… (Netflix, Hulu, Amazon etc).

    Does that sound doable?

  63. iamcartz January 22nd, 2013 7:27 pm

    The only problem i found with plex on roku is that there is no browse by categories. the pc version you can go to a folder and sort by year and stuff like that in roku u just have to do by alphabetical order.

  64. Helen February 3rd, 2013 5:03 am

    I have never been successful in playing any of my itunes video content. I’ve searched the forums and tried several fixes and still can’t play my movies and tv shows that I purchased through itunes. The videos are there, the theme music plays when I click on the video but it will not play the movies and tv shows. I am also having difficulty with the android ap (now you see it,now you don’t; the content is there and then it’s not). I will revisit Plex in a year or so when it is no longer in it’s infancy. Plex is a great concept that has not arrived yet for me. See you next year.

  65. elan February 3rd, 2013 10:51 am

    @Helen ~ iTunes video content can and will never play with Plex (or anything other than iTunes/Apple software) since the DRM on those files prevents it.

  66. somed February 6th, 2013 8:15 pm

    what might be causing my roku XR to crash playing an mp4 file through plex? I have updated software for plex and the roku itself. most files seem to play file, but some mp4′s cause the roku to crash and restart. changing the direct play/transcoding settings don’t work. it’s already set to stereo play and not 5.1. are there other known issues with the XR? will I need to upgrade?

  67. Mike June 25th, 2013 3:59 pm

    I am more than tired of the shitty Plex on roku. Its unreliable ridiculous UI and features from the 80s…been using plex and roku for years and it keeps leaving my super disappointed and I dont recommend it to anyone at all. Love the concept, but in reality anyone I know says it just sux….prove me wrong, I would love for it to work stable, solid and the community full of life….but it aint so…..disappointed!

  68. elan June 25th, 2013 5:26 pm

    @Mike ~ you’re in the minority, thankfully, but if you have any constructive details on how we can make it better, we’re all ears!

  69. Rokumen July 1st, 2013 1:41 pm

    Plex works very inconsistently with both of my Roku’s. Sometimes my queue appears, sometimes it doesn’t. Sometimes channels are available, sometimes they aren’t. It’s as unpredictable as the weather. Plex is like a box of chocolates……

  70. carolyn September 28th, 2013 5:05 am

    The first time I connected Roku3 with Plex it worked. I could see the content on my computer. Each subsequent time I have tried, no content appears. I’ve tried getting new pin. Doesn’t seem to work. Any advice out there? thanks, carolyn

  71. Cyberxion January 10th, 2014 10:43 am

    Plex is working fine with my Roku 2XS. However, I used to be able to click on a video in Plex/Web and send it to the Roku. Now every time I try it I just get an error. Is it because the program was updated on the PC side, or is it the Roku update that killed the functionality?

  72. elan January 17th, 2014 10:54 am

    @Cyberxion ~ control to the Roku should work fine, please let us know if that’s not the case after updating the Plex roku app.

  73. Cory February 6th, 2014 1:30 pm

    The new casting feature only works for me when the app is open on the roku. If the app is open, casting works fine but that limits the usefulness. Is there anyway to cast from plex to the roku without the plex roku app already being open? Similar to how the Netflix/Youtube casting works on the roku?

  74. elan February 8th, 2014 7:21 pm

    @Cory ~ not at the moment, but it’s something we’d like to do, if it’s possible.

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