Roku Releases Official Support for USB Drives

Dave Zatz —  February 1, 2011 — 14 Comments

roku-usb1

Roku has finally launched official support for accessing USB-housed media via the current XD|S model and discontinued HD-XR. The “Roku USB Media Player” builds upon what was essentially a public beta by slightly broadening file support and reworking the interface. Unfortunately, release notes are slim and it’s not clear what the exact file encoding requirements or limitations might be. However, here’s what we do know thus far:

Plug in your USB drive to your Roku player and enjoy your digital movies, music and photos on your TV. Currently supports MKV (H.264), MP4 (H.264), MOV (H.264), WMV/ASF (WMV9/VC-1), MP3, AAC, JPG, and PNG files.

This channel requires firmware version 2.9 build 1529 which began rolling out last week. More detailed information on the latest firmware release and USB channel will be available soon.

As it’s 7 in the morning, I haven’t actually hooked up a drive and taken the new functionality for a spin – other than snapping these pics. Mari covered the pre-release channel, so perhaps we’ll go ahead and delegate an upcoming hands-on to her.

(Thanks for the tip, Chad!)

14 responses to Roku Releases Official Support for USB Drives

  1. Dave:
    The channel says it supports MKV (H.264), MP4 (H.264), MOV (H.264), WMV/ASF (WMV9/VC-1), AAC, JPG, PNG files. Oddly MP3 is not listed.

  2. Is there a drive size limitation? Also, does it support playlists? I’d love to use one of these for an upcoming project where I need to show a series of MP4 files unattended.

  3. MP3 is supported.

    Playlists are not support at this time.

    Drive size limitation is 2GB as anything larger requires support for 4k sectors.

    Patrick
    Roku Developer Program Manager

  4. Thanks, Patrick.

    Additionally Roku’s posted some info related to higher fidelity audio, but nothing official yet regarding bitrate capabilities/limitations as far as I know.

    Dolby Digital in MKV, MP4 and MOV movies and DTS in MKV movies are supported via pass through only. You must connect your Roku player via HDMI or S/PDIF (optical) to a TV or receiver capable of decoding Dolby Digital or DTS in order to hear videos with audio tracks in those formats.

  5. Patrick, did you mean drive size or file size? Because I am using a 16GB flashkey from LaCie without problem.

  6. Sorry, drive limitation is 2TB, not 2GB, of course. File size limitations are based on the filesystem, so 4GB for FAT32.

  7. Patrick, what profiles/resolutions and bit rates are supported for h.264?

  8. I have some .m4v files created by Handbrake 0.9.5 with the default settings and stored on a SDHC card using a IOGEAR GFR209 usb adapter and the couple I played worked OK – Nice! I also tried a couple .MOV files from my wife’s Kodac Z18 ? pocket video camera and they played OK but i did not try the HD mov file as I did not have any. MP3 files played OK as well and most even had the album cover pictures.

    Overall I am really happy, may not be perfect but good enough for now

  9. Patrick, any word on whether/when AVI format will be supported without file conversion? Thanks!

  10. I tried to play HD .mov files from my kodak playsport and they would play crystal clear for about 5 sec. The retrieving bar would come up and the roku would lock up tighter than a bow string. I tried several of the .mov home movies and they were all the same (about 5 sec of play) bummer city, I had high hopes. I will try some in SD mode and see if they play, it might be just HD mode that craters. I will write back and let ya’ll know how the battle goes.

  11. fyi…. I was playing them off a 500 GB usb drive.

  12. The Roku 2 Usb media player was a disapointment. It no longer plays mov files. I bought a second box as an upgrade for my bedroom and none of my movies that were on my portable hard drive that were in mov format will show. In the help section it says it only now supports only mp4 and mkv format. They actually downgraded the player! Im one Angry bird!

  13. Use Handbrake (free) to convert your files to .m4v/.mp4.

    The only problem I have with the USB is when I want to pause a movie or rewind a movie, it will usually take the roku quite a while to respond. And sometimes it will make the Roku reboot.

    This is with a 1 TB passport drive. Then again, if I’m 20 minutes into a Frasier (netflix) and try to rewind, the same thing happens. Rewind. Play. You get the audio and then the picture eventually catches up (maybe).

  14. Even with the fact that I can’t easily rewind a video quickly when I’m well into it, that hasn’t stopped me from using the combo of AnyDVD and Handbrake to put my entire DVD library on my passport and use the Roku to play whatever I want.

    My CD and DVD collections are gone (with the exception of a handful of DVDs for the kids). Technology rules!

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