If you're shopping in the Roku Channel Store, you might not know which channels to add. The best public channels for the Roku digital video player for the year 2011 let you access a wealth of both paid and free content at the touch of a button. And it isn't all TV episodes and movies; there are also Roku channels that offer other content, such as music, weather and news. Unlike Roku private channels, you don't need a computer to add public channels to your Roku HD player. You can add them right on your Roku box from the Channel Store, which is a Roku channel in its own right. Here is a list of the best public channels the Roku Channel Store has to offer. While the channels themselves are free, you may have to pay to access the content they provide.
By far the best and most popular public channel for the Roku Channel Store, the Netflix channel gives you access to your Netflix instant streaming account. You can watch commercial-free movies and TV shows, including shows in HD when available if your broadband Internet connection is fast enough. Your instant queue is available at the top of the channel. You can search movie and TV show titles by keyword in the Netflix channel, as well as browse by genre. Your recently watched activity appears directly below the search feature. Below this you can find the top picks Netflix has chosen based on your viewing and rating activity. The Netflix channel also makes suggestions of movies and TV shows that are like the ones you've already watched. If you can't find the movies and TV shows you want to watch, check out these websites for the best Netflix instant streaming movies and TV episodes.
Amazon Instant Video
The Amazon Instant Video channel for the Roku provides access to the entire Amazon library of movies and TV shows, including many in HD, making it one of the best Roku channels with a la carte content. You can search for movies and TV shows by title, description or actor's name. Amazon Prime Instant videos are also available through the Amazon Instant Video channel. Amazon Prime Instant Videos are available to members of Amazon Prime, a service which provides access to free shipping on certain purchases and commercial-free instant streaming videos. In the Amazon Instant Video channel you can also rent or buy movies, either in HD or in standard definition, then view your whole Amazon Video Library, which consists of movies and TV episodes you've rented or purchased. One of the best features of the Amazon Instant Video channel is Special Deals, which provides access to free and discounted movies, movie extras and TV episodes. You only have to watch free content once to add it permanently to your Amazon.com video library.
Roku USB Media Player
Although there is also a private channel for the USB port on the Roku XDS, HD-XR or Roku 2 XS, the best channel for accessing the high-speed USB 2.0 port is the official Roku USB Media Player. You must have a Roku XDS, HD-XR or or Roku 2 XS to use the USB Media Player channel. The Roku USB Media Player supports video files like MKV, MP4, MOV and WMV, music and audio files such as AAC and MP3 and image files such as JPG and PNG. To use a USB drive on your Roku using this public channel, it must be formatted in FAT16, FAT32, NTFS or HFS+ format. The channel works both with USB flash drives and external hard drives. Plug your drive in before accessing the channel for best results.
This Roku public channel lets Hulu Plus subscribers view unlimited TV episodes and movies, including many new and popular current-season TV shows. Many shows are available in 720p HD. Unlike other services that stream on the Roku digital video player, Hulu Plus is partially ad-supported. The advertisements are primarily shown in TV episodes, and the movies are often uninterrupted by commercials. If you haven't subscribed to Hulu Plus yet, you can still add the channel and watch sample videos for free.
Pandora Internet Radio
Pandora Internet Radio is the best public channel to stream free music on your Roku digital video player. Pandora's free streaming radio service is now ad-supported, although the advertisements interrupt the music infrequently. Using the Pandora channel, you can create a new radio station based on your listening preferences or listen to a radio station you've already added. The Pandora Radio channel also has a QuickMix feature, which automatically creates a radio station based on your listening history.
The Weather Underground channel for the Roku provides free weather information for your city. You can program this Roku public channel with your city and state so that you can quickly access your local area's current temperature, wind speed and direction, humidity and 5-day forecast. This Roku channel also has free radar, satellite and webcam data.
This Roku private channel gone public has a free lineup of recent news programs from various networks such as FOX News, ABC, CBS, NBC, CNN, PBS, NASA, CNET, Current, ESPN, CSPAN, NPR and BBC. Typically, you can watch or listen to news programs that have aired over the last several weeks. Most of the shows are available only on the day of or the day following the air date.