The Roku has picked up a lot of steam over the last decade for being one of the most far-reaching, powerful and popular platforms in the world of streaming. Giving users access to a giant selection of channels, including streaming giants like Amazon Prime, Netflix, Hulu, and Youtube.
Kodi, a powerful cross-platform, open-source media center is similarly popular with users who enjoy access to video, audio, and live streams. It would seem that the Roku and Kodi would make natural allies, which is why it is odd and unfortunate that it is not so easy to install Kodi on the Roku.
The methods provided in this guide are meant to assist with the process of getting around the hassles of installing Kodi on a Roku device. This method of “unlocking” or “jailbreaking” the Roku will ease the otherwise monotonous process of installing Kodi on it.
The Benefits and Ease of Roku
Roku is a very powerful platform. Its power lies in how vast the options and choices it affords the users to enjoy while navigating an easy, intuitive user interface. By any measure, Roku’s 4000+ choice of channels is an awe-inspiring number. It is not hard to identify and find desired channels for interest with Roku’s fast and accurate search capability. Searching for almost any apps, movies, tv shows one is interested to find generates a “type-ahead” style lookup, prompting the user with suggestions of the sought after search.
This simplicity of use is paired with a vast selection of channel types. From a multitude of video streaming options (YouTube, Netflix, etc), to audio networks for enjoyment of music and podcasts mediums (Deezer, TuneIn, Spotify, etc.), to a specific search for movies or tv shows that a user may want to find, Roku provides an almost instant ability to reach most entertainment desires.
While some channels might be limited by their geographical region, having thousands of choices is still a staggering number of options to pick from. However, with all the choices at hand, Roku, much like other streaming devices, has built-in restrictions and controls what is available and what is accessible. The Roku’s reach is wide (and growing) but it is far from unlimited.
While it is typically explained as a protective strategy to guard the Roku against malfunctions, the reason for the limits and restrictions set by Roku is more about control of the content than looking to minimize crashes and errors of the Roku device itself or its operating system. Despite the large variety of choices provided by Roku, there are quite a few in existence which may interest Roku users. Roku wants the users to have a far reach but does not want it to be unlimited.
Roku may not permit access to some of the latest movies or tv shows and may curb the ability to reach a significant number of live streaming sports channels. This restrictive nature leads many users to “jailbreak” (get around the restrictions of) the Roku, and allow themselves the ability to reach an even greater number of valuable sources of entertainment.
Not Easy, But Not Impossible
Roku’s restrictive impositions are tough to crack. This is by design and therefore has been done with the foresight to guard against Roku users taking such action. But, for users looking to stream content from third-party software, there are methods of bypassing the limitations the Roku chooses to put in place.
Roku’s control largely confined to their app store. In fact, some of the apps largely meant for their specific particular uses, can often be leveraged by Roku users to access content otherwise not readily available by the device. For example, some older Roku versions contain a USB port. So a video loaded to it from a PC could then be played on the Roku using a multimedia application equipped for playing music, viewing pictures and videos. Unless the file being played is incompatible with the application design or the file is simply corrupted, Roku pushes no restrictions about what can be played from here.
Later models abandoned the USB port but obtain casting capabilities. This will be important to note later.
More About Kodi
As mentioned earlier, Kodi is an application that many Roku users would love to have access to. While alternatives do exist, Kodi has support for a multitude of hardware platforms. It also works on almost any existing operating system and runs on any device containing a 3D GPU (graphic processing unit) chip.
Kodi’s main feature is to act as a home theater hub, but its many add ons allow it to have a far more reaching grasp on a wide array of online services. Unlike the multiple alternatives to the Kodi who impose boundaries on what third party software can be utilized, being an open-source platform, the Kodi does not set limits on their uses but welcomes them.
Many of the restrictions prohibit the access of content not deemed as authorized by Roku, so the streaming capacity is limited to only applications that do not carry what might be considered “pirated” content.
It is little wonder that Roku does not play nice with a platform like Kodi as it is actively vetting any allowed applications for unauthorized material. So it is easy to understand why Roku would make it difficult to operate something like Kodi through its service. Having said that, utilizing Kodi with the user of the Roku is not out of the realm of possibility.
How To Use Kodi on Roku
Installing Kodi directly to the Roku device is not possible. It will not be available through the Roku app marketplace as a choice, nor can it be reached as a “private” channel. However, other options are available, ones that do not require any sort of tinkering with or manipulation of the Roku itself, but rather just require an additional device, and potentially an HDMI capable in case of older Roku devices.
1. Cast Kodi to Roku Through Another Device
This method requires the use of Roku devices which are not older than a Roku 3. The reason for this is simply that the Roku devices preceding 3 did not possess casting capabilities. Along with a capable Roku release model, a Kodi compatible device is also needed. This includes a PC or a smartphone equipped with a 3D GPU chip on the hardware end, or a compatible operating system (including Windows, MAC OS X, Android IOS or Linux).
To utilize these methods, the Roke device should first be updated to the latest version of the software available. The update can be triggered manually by going into the Roku settings of the main menu and following the prompts to check (and install) the most recent system update.
Kodi will likewise need to be installed on the hardware device which it will be casting from. From the Roku main menu, it is then time to navigate to Settings and find the option for Screen mirroring. Choose to enable screen mirroring and click Ok. As long as both the Roku and the external device have options, there should be an option to add the Roku as a wireless display on the PC or phone. Once the Roku is connected to the external device, streaming from Kodi from the device will mirror the screen to the Roku, allowing the user to enjoy the benefits of Kodi outside of Roku’s restrictions.
2. Utilize Roku As An Output Device Using an HDMI Cable
The main difference between this method and the first is that while the former connected Kodi to the Roku virtually via wifi connection, this method hardwires the pair of platforms. What is needed for this method is the Roku, the external device of choice (PC or phone), and an HDMI cable. The compatibility may also depend on the connection of the external device. While an HDMI cable cannot be directly linked to a phone as it can most modern computers, there are adapters that will meet the needs of the phone’s output and have an HDMI end for the Roku side of the connection.
Once again, it is a good idea to make sure that the Roku is updated to the latest software version before setting up this process. Installing the version of Kodi that the operating system compatible with on the external device would be the next step, followed by establishing the wired connection between the device and the Roku. The Roku will need to be added as a permitted device in the settings as done in Method 1 on the external device end of the hookup.
Other than the hardwiring nature of this method, it established the same principle as the first, connecting the two devices with the ability to broadcast the signal from the external one to the Roku, opening up the ability to access a whole new array of entertainment media.
Keeping The Use of Kodi Private
The one area where there is an issue in this process is the actual content of what can be streamed from the Kodi to the Roku. Kodi, being an open-source, all material welcoming platform that it is, has multiple third party add ons. The content which may be broadcast on through these add ons may not carry the proper authenticity and thereby be considered “pirated” material.
To stay clear of trouble, it would be wise to remain anonymous if using Kodi, whether it be through the Roku or simply on an external device. While it is difficult to remain true and completely anonymous online in this day and age, there are some options. The most notable one is the implementation of using a VPN (a virtual private network).
To browse any website or service, one must connect to their internet service provider (ISP). The provider links to websites, and while doing so is capable of logging and collecting information about any websites accessed, media viewed and files downloaded. A VPN encrypts and hides online activities by redirecting all web traffic through a specially configured private server. Anyone seeing the encrypted data will just see it as a collection of characters and icons, not being able to draw anything from it. This method would keep any third party material accessed with Kodi from monitoring eyes.
Additionally, a VPN will unlock the ability to access content from formerly unattainable sources. Third-party applications that impose restrictions, similar to those implied by Roku, may in some cases become more readily available for use as the VPN may not be bound to geographical constraints.
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