Roku can now play your local content via the new Plex channel

We all know Roku is a marvelous media streamer box, the best there is considering how many web clients it implements (the big three Netflix, Hulu Plus, and Amazon Video on Demand) plus hundreds of others including Pandora, Revision 3, etc (See our Roku review here). Where the box is lacking though is in local content support when other solutions like  WD TV Live Plus and Boxee Box beat Roku boxes hands down. Slowly, things are starting to change, not necessarily thanks to Roku but thanks to 3rd party players like PlayOn. The last one to enable local content (local as in located on your home network) playback is coming from Plex.

Plex solution consists in two components: the server, which has to run on a computer (PC or MAC) on your network and will take care of video transcoding as well. The client, comes in various shapes, usually as software for popular devices. Currently, Plex has clients for Android / iOS  and, with the addition of a new Roku channel, on Roku boxes as well, starting today. A Roku box can play only h.264 video so the server will have to execute the video transcoding. Beside local content, Plex server can also stream a number of online services including Netflix and Hulu (only for MAC servers at this point) and even YouTube (Roku had a dedicated un-official YouTube channel, but it was removed some time ago at Google’s request).

If you are interested in additional way to watch local content, PlayOn also has an un-official channel but you’ll have to get the PlayOn premium edition which last time I checked was priced around $60. Plex solution is free for now.

How to add Plex channel to Roku and play local content? Simple! (just bear in mind the channel is still in beta for now). Go to your Roku account and using the “Add a Private Channel” option, use “plex” name. Then, go to your Roku box, enter in the channel store, exit and you should see the new Plex channel right away!