Personal Content on the Roku

I recently purchased a new home router – the Netgear AC1600.  The router has a USB 3.0 usb slot.  I plugged a USB hard drive into the router and had an instant network drive.  I am thrilled the software worked out of the box.

We’ve never had cable television at my house, so all of my content comes from my Roku or DVDs.  We use the Roku to stream from Netflix and Amazon.  We also listen to SomaFM and our favorite radio stations through the Roku.

I own a few DRM-free movies, lots of DRM-free music, and more photos.  I want a solution to watch the movies, play music, and show photo slideshows on my television.  I want to stream content directly from my network drive.

I looked at a few solutions, and I’m not thrilled with any of them.  Here is what I found:

Roku Media Player

Roku Media Player is the most promising solution.  My router provides a “DLNA Media Server”.  I never heard of this protocol before trying to perform this install, but apparently Roku Media Player uses DLNA to catalog media content on a network drive.  So far, so good.

The good:

I installed Roku Media Player (RMP) and started the program.  RMP found my drive immediately.  I didn’t have to perform any manual setup – it just worked.  I was able to play videos and audio.  The photos were available to view.  So far, so good.

The bad:

The interface is awful.

Plex

Plex looks great, but it requires an always-on computer server.  I am trying to avoid this with the networked drive.

Apple TV

I could dump my Roku for an Apple TV.  Apple TV looks the best, but their forced ecosystem is a turnoff.  I’m not even sure if the Apple TV would let me maintain a network drive without a dedicated computer with iTunes installed.