How to Set Up USB Media Playback on a Roku 2 XS

How to Set Up USB Media Playback on a Roku 2 XSWhen I first got the Roku 2 XS, I was thrilled at all the channels that were available to users. What made me even more excited was the ability to play media directly from a USB drive.

Unfortunately, the process of enabling USB playback isn’t exactly obvious, especially given the current channel software which isn’t very supportive of search. You actually have to dig and seek out the USB Media Player channel from the main channel directory. Not only that, but Roku has kind of buried it in two categories: Music and Photos.

So here’s a look at some of the steps you’ll need to take to get your Roku player ready for USB media playback.

  • Select the Roku Channel Store from the Home screen.
  • Navigate down to either the Music or the Photos and Video category.
  • Browse to the left or right until you find the Roku USB Media Player channel.
  • Select the channel by hitting the OK button.
  • Choose Add Channel from the menu.

This should add the USB Media Player channel to your Home screen. From here, you can select it and load the content located on the USB drive. You can plug the USB drive directly into the port located on the side of the Roku player (Point B in Figure above).

Things to Keep in Mind

I tried attaching a large-capacity USB drive formatted in FAT32. Unfortunately, the Roku didn’t recognize it as being a legitimate drive. In order to get it to work, I had to transfer the content to an actual standard thumb drive. This might be different with your individual hardware, but that’s how it worked for me.

According to the Roku site, only these video and audio formats are supported.

  • Video — MKV (H.264), MP4 (H.264), MOV (H.264), WMV/ASF (WMV9/VC-1)
  • Music — AAC, MP3
  • Photo — JPG, PNG

If you experience jitters or buffering in your video playback, you might be using a slow drive or a video that has a much higher bit rate than what the Roku can handle. Roku recommends videos with a bitrate of 8 Mbps on average. Anything more might be too high.

If your drive still isn’t recognized, you might want to make sure it’s not formatted in a proprietary file format. FAT32 and FAT64 work fine (on most non-platter drives) while NTFS and Apple’s journaled formats may not.

Do you own a Roku? What problems and/or questions would you like us to tackle in a future article?

Image: Roku

Article Written by

Ryan Matthew Pierson has worked as a broadcaster, writer, and producer for media outlets ranging from local radio stations to internationally syndicated programs. His experience includes every aspect of media production. He has over a decade of experience in terrestrial radio, Internet multimedia, and commercial video production.

  • Andrew Dalbey

    thanks! not sure why they made this so difficult to figure out. the average user would not have know to A) add a channel for this feature and B) to look in either of these categories, considering most people want to watch videos from a USB. cheers