As much as I love to brag about my Roku Ultra and Roku TV, the conundrum surrounding the browser support has been a troubling one.
Standing atop the paramount of the streaming game, Roku devices have made long and proud strides, implementing a simple and sleek UI along with support for thousands and thousands of channels, and there in lies the issue - the software.
Roku decided to side with a heavily modified, Linux-based, proprietary OS aptly named Roku OS. And since this is a proprietary operating system, not all the features you might expect will be present.
Roku does not have an in-built web browser. To get a web browser on Roku, you need to cast or share the screen from a phone or a PC onto the Roku. A few browsers were available in the channel store but they cannot be accessed anymore.
Depending on the device you choose to cast or share the screen, the procedure may vary. But before that, let's take a look at how to get a web browser on Roku.
Web Browsers on Roku: A History
The ugly truth is that, despite an excellent UI and thousands and thousands of channels present in the channel store, Roku simply ignores the need for a browser.
Users have lamented their despair for a long time, and still, nothing.
This might be a threat to Roku as a contender for the best streaming device title since most of their competitors have moved on and have implemented a browser on their devices, like the Amazon Firestick.
But this was not always the case with Roku devices because browser channels were present in the channel store up until recently.
Though developed by third-party devs, Web browser X and POPRISM were the most widely used web browsers on Roku.
Web Browser X was the closest to being a traditional browser, and I say closest because of its extremely outdated UI and lackluster formatting of web pages.
Limited to only browsing and reading content available on the sites, you couldn't access your favorite social media site using this browser.
Slow-loading media and the inability to type or write anything on websites or forums were some of the other nitpicks I could find. And to add insult to injury, a premium of $4.99 per month.
POPRISM was even more contemptible as it was a text-based browser, meaning there were no graphical illustrations, no media, and no formatting.
It was good for reading news and articles, which was a bit depressing. On the upside, it was free of cost.
That said, none of these channels are now available on the device.
When you search for a browser on the channel store, what comes up are some underwhelming results, especially when the search results reflect channels that has nothing to do with a conventional browser.
And it might be a blessing in disguise, this removal of such outrageous apps. Let's take a look at the different ways to use web browsers for Roku.
How to Cast a Web Browser From Your PC/Phone Onto Roku
As we are left stranded with only this option, let's take a look at the ways to use web browsers on Roku.
Screencasting or sharing basically lets you duplicate or share the screen of your device with an external display or device, mostly for convenience purposes and ease of viewing.
Watching content on a bigger screen is the intent of screencasting. But the process of casting differs from device to device.
Roku devices rely on the built-in Miracast feature to cast and mirror other devices.
Even though this sharing protocol has been known for many issues like unstable connectivity and frequent breakdowns, it is one of the most widely used sharing protocols, other than Airplay.
And since Roku devices have become compatible with Airplay, casting is even simpler for Apple devices.
Before you can cast your device with Roku, you have to enable the feature on Roku.
Enable Screencasting on Roku
To enable screencasting on Roku, follow these exact steps:
1. On the Home Screen, click and open Settings.
2. Click on System and then select Screen Mirroring.
3. Click on Screen mirroring mode and choose from the available options.
4. Prompt will inform you every time a device wants to connect with your Roku; Always Allow will not bring up any prompts, and any device can connect with your Roku; Never allow will disable mirroring.
Now that you have configured Roku, let's look at how to cast from various devices. Make sure to connect both devices to the same network.
Casting From Android
An Android device, be it a tablet or a phone, may well be within your reach. With its vast collection of browsers and ease of use, it might be the most versatile device to cast from.
To connect an Android device to Roku, follow these instructions.
1. Scroll down the control/notification center on the device and select the Smart view/smart share (or an equivalent option) tile.
2. On the next screen, select the Roku device after the scanning is complete.
3. Wait for a few seconds, and you will have to accept the connection if you have selected the Prompt option. Wait for establishing the connection.
4. You can now open the browser on your device and surf the internet.
Casting From Windows
The ideal device to cast a browser from is a PC. With its availability of computing peripherals, like a mouse and a keyboard, you will be able to browse the internet effortlessly.
A Windows PC may be the ideal device.
To cast the browser from a Windows PC, follow these instructions.
1. If you are using a Windows 10 PC, click and open the Notification icon from the Taskbar.
2. There, you can either select Project or Connect. Click on Expand if you cannot find either of the options.
3. If you have selected Project, four options will be available- PC screen only, Duplicate, Extend, Second Screen only. Choose either Duplicate or Extend. Additionally, you can click on Connect to a Wireless Display.
4. Either way, Select the Roku device on the next screen.
5. After the connection is successful, open the browser to surf the web.
Casting Using Airplay
Unlike the others in this article, Apple devices have their proprietary casting protocol called Airplay. And Roku devices are compatible with this feature.
But first, you have to enable Airplay on your Roku device. To do so, follow these instructions.
1. On the Settings tab, click and open the Apple Airplay and Homekit tile.
2. Turn ON Airplay.
Now you can connect an Apple device of your choice with the Roku through these instructions.
3. On your Apple device, select the Screen mirroring tile from the control center.
4. Click on the Airplay-enabled Roku device.
5. Enter the code from your TV onto the dialogue box on your Apple device.
And voila, you are all set. You can now open either Safari or a browser of your choice and surf the web at your leisure. You can also mirror iPad to Roku TV.
How to Fix Common Screen Casting and Screen Mirroring Issues
As with any novelty feature, issues and bugs frequently torment you while mirroring.
These issues can be connectivity-related, accessibility-related, or even incompatibility issues.
Either way, most of them can be resolved by simple troubleshooting steps on your Roku and the casting device.
1. Check for Compatibility
If you cannot find the Roku device while scanning for compatible devices to mirror with, it's high time you check whether your Roku supports mirroring.
Even though almost all modern Roku devices (released after 2017) support screen mirroring, certain models still lack compatibility with the said feature.
Roku Express (model 3700) and Roku Express+ (model 3710) lack support for screen mirroring.
To check your device's model number, follow these steps.
1. On the Settings tab, click and open System.
2. Click on About to acquire the info.
2. Update your Device
Running on the latest firmware is crucial for the well-being of any modern gadget. The same applies to the Roku and your Streaming device.
Like a well-oiled machine, a device running current operates like a gem. Make sure you update your device frequently to avoid being vulnerable to the bugs and errors of the streaming world.
To check and update your Roku, follow these steps.
1. On the Settings tab, click and open System.
2. Select System Update and click on Check Now.
If there are any updates, install them. Restart the device and try mirroring again.
You should also check for updates on your mirroring device.
3. Network Issues
As I've mentioned earlier in the article, both devices should be connected to the same network, to facilitate mirroring.
Internet connectivity can also be an issue while surfing the browser. Ensure that your network has stable internet with plateaued latencies for not screwing up the connection.
Check the speed and latency of your network using a speed testing software on your phone/PC.
If the speed is unstable and latency is out of bounds, try refreshing the connection. You can also change the internet speed on Roku.
Unplug the router/modem for a few seconds and plug it back in after the cool-off period. Check the speed now, and then try connecting the devices.
The internet has become an inextricable part of our daily lives, thanks to the vast, never-ending vista of information and services it houses.
Browsers form the harbor between this sea of information and ourselves. And hence, the accessibility of a browser has become a priority.
Sadly, Roku is yet to realize this reality and implement a browser in their devices.
And hence, we are left with the only option to cast/mirror the browser from our phones/PCs. This guide paves the path to that reality.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)
Are Google Services available on Roku?
Although not all Google services are available on Roku, Google play movies and TV channels are available on the channel store. Head over to the Channel store and select Streaming channels. Search for the channel and then click on Add channel to install the service.
Does Roku have a free Web browser?
Cut to the chase - No, there is no free browser available on Roku. There used to be a browser channel called POPRISM, but it has since been removed from the device.
How do I turn off mirroring on Roku?
To turn OFF mirroring on Roku, go to Settings> System> Screen Mirroring> Screen Mirroring Mode> Never allow. You can also close the screen mirroring option on your Phone/PC to stop the process.
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