Six Tricks to Upgrade Your Roku Experience

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Craig Hanks
YouTube Channel Manager & Streaming Expert
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September 02, 2020
4 min read

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Today, we're talking about some tips and tricks to make your Roku shine. Now we're going to be covering stuff you can do with Roku devices and Roku TVs. I'll kind of swap between the two, but I'll let you know when I do.

What we will not cover is content stuff. I'm not here to tell you which live TV streaming apps are the best. This piece is all about the device itself and using your Roku to approach its full potential. Let's dive in.

Before we get started, check for updates

All right, now first thing's first, if you want to get your Roku running at its full potential, you need to make sure the software is up to date.

Now, this should happen automatically, but you can always double-check to be sure it's working. Go into your settings and then go to “System.” And then there's something called “System update.” When you go there, it'll tell you when it was last updated and checked.

Tip 1: Grab a new remote

Tip number one: add a new remote to your old Roku or Roku TV. These remotes come with a newer Roku TV and have all the nice, new bells and whistles, including the voice search button.

But I have an older Roku TV somewhere else in the house that didn't have that voice search button. Well, the good news is I can grab a newer remote, either buy one online or kind of kipe one from a newer device, and I can add it to that older Roku TV or Roku device.

Then, as long as that software is up to date, I'm able to use the voice search on the remote to run the TV. Pretty nice.

If you’re frustrated with an older remote, you can always upgrade to a different remote—sometimes, they just don't feel as good in the hand, or they're a little too clicky. I prefer the rubber grip instead of the plastic ones.

Roku remote

Tip 2: Embrace the Roku app

Next up, tip number two: Use the Roku app and learn to love the Roku app.

Download the Roku app on your smartphone and use it either like a remote, or you can actually use it to browse through the available Roku stuff. So now I can turn on Netflix with a touch in the app itself. Like I said, you can use it as a remote with the arrow keys, OK key, play, and pause.

But one of the nicest things about the app is the keyboard. As you know, it can be a pain in the butt every time you have to put in your email address and password, if you want to search for something, or what have you.

Typing on the Roku interface or most streaming interfaces is not a pleasant experience. But if you go on the Roku app, you can pull up your keyboard and do it that way. Or you can use voice search like you would on the remote itself. It's very slick. I highly recommend that if you have a Roku, that you get to know and love the app.

Roku App as remote

Tip 3: Take advantage of sound leveling

Next up, tip number three is to use the auto sound leveling feature. This feature is going to be on Roku TVs, especially newer ones.

If you go into your settings, you can set auto sound leveling. And this setting is going to essentially kind of squish the top end and the lower end so that nothing is too quiet or too loud.

If you watch a lot of live TV with loud commercials, this will be a great mode for you to have. Or if you just prefer not to have a lot of variation in your noise level, then leveling is a good way to go.

There's also a night mode that caps the sound level completely. So if it's late at night and you're watching a car chase or a gunfight, then the loud stuff is simply dampened. It won't go above a certain sound level. Night mode is pretty great, but I am going to get to another idea if you're watching at night in just a moment.

Sound leveling on Roku

Tip 4: Screencast from your devices

Tip number four: cast to your screen, just like a Chromecast. If you've ever used a Chromecast, then you might know about this.

You can go onto your phone, open up an app like YouTube or Netflix, or what have you. And as you're playing a video, you'll notice a little icon up in the corner that allows you to cast. Chromecast users, like I said, are used to this, but Roku users can do it as well, as long as they have a device or a TV that is on the same network as the phone or the tablet that you're watching from.

Are you going to use this in the same way you would with a Chromecast where you're just running everything off your phone? Maybe not. That's the nice thing about having a remote. But if you are in a position where you found a nice video on your phone that you want to watch maybe something a little longer on YouTube—like, I don't know, a stunning 4K phone review from Tshaka that's 15-minutes long—it's a nice setting to have.

Tip 5: Don't forget about private listening

Tip number five is to use private listening. On some Roku remotes, on some of the newer TVs, or on the Roku Ultra, you'll get a little headphone jack in the remote itself. And oftentimes, like with the Ultra, it comes with headphones so you can do private listening.

This setup is nice when it's late at night, and you don't want to disturb anybody else. You can just plug headphones into the remote or go in through the app and do the same thing. You just press the private listening mode on the app. And as long as you've got headphones plugged into the phone, then you'll be able to use it there as well.

Private listening mode on Roku

Tip 6: Use Bluetooth headphones

Tip number six is closely related, and that is connecting some Bluetooth headphones.

Now, if you're using a Roku TV, you can do this directly to the TV itself. You just go into the Bluetooth settings and add a device there.

If you're using a Roku device, an older device, or maybe a cheaper device that doesn't have that Bluetooth capability … then you can still go in through the app and set up your Bluetooth device on your phone or your tablet and then use the private listening mode.

My final comment

There you go. That's just a few ideas for some tips and tricks on your Roku. I'm sure there are lots of others. And like I said, today we're not talking about the content itself. I want to hear about the device.

So if you have any tips or tricks that you like on your Roku, then hit the comments. I'd love to hear the best stuff you got.

Craig Hanks
Written by
Craig Hanks
Craig is a long-time writer, presenter, and podcaster, and he now runs the YouTube channel, where he strives to be far more charming and presentable than he is in real life. Within the umbrella, he has accidentally become a streaming expert after covering the streaming wars for almost three years. Craig is also the founder and host of The Legendarium Podcast, his outlet for his love of fantasy and sci-fi literature.

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