Jun 19 2012

Roku with PLEX, Playing ISO’s = Very cool.

235o5h4i_thumb Roku with PLEX, Playing ISO's = Very cool.

My entrance in to streaming video and Internet content with set top boxes is really an experience that I would classify as ‘testing the waters’. I’ve been looking hard at the options with Internet TV boxes and set top boxes to stream all kinds of Internet content directly to my living room TV… I finally decided to purchase the Roku 2 XS.

There were other options, but I believe Roku has pushed itself right in to the publics eye more than others… but that’s my opinion. Thanks to my website [LEHSYS] I’m able to afford to get products and test them out from time to time and this was one I thought I was a ‘must do’… The Roku I got was only $99; you can look up the website for the specifications.

In another post, I talked about cutting the cable for ‘cable’, but I also wanted something to work with my electronic entertainment; such as my movie ISO’s and my MP3 collection. Right out of the box, Roku doesn’t do this, but the beauty to Roku is the channels/applications that you can add to it.

My movie collection is largely ISO’s; I hadn’t wanted to convert these to make them work with any particular streaming box, like Roku, and I was very happy when I could make my Roku stream my ISO’s directly to my TV without any conversion.

My experience with Roku is that it does have lots of Internet streaming options; some aren’t as organized as others, but it does work. The Internet interface works for me and if you have used Netflix, you won’t have any issues with adapting to it.

Having never seen the Roku, I was very surprised at the size of the unit when I first opened it; it’s very small. It was roughly the size of my palm and only about as think as a [US] quarter, with just a power cable and a remote to keep it company. It’s a very simplistic packaging. I was left very curious with the contents of the box, I was searching for instructions on streaming, what formats were supported, how to get media from your local network and other obvious questions; nothing was there… but the Internet is always on— so I went digging.

With Roku, you add channels [not applications] to the device. In my case, I chose to install a channel called PLEX. Plex is a channel on Roku that allows the Roku to connect to a resource on your network that’ll function as a media server, pushing the content to the Roku. This whole process is really not overly documented in the Roku, so the setup takes a little reading.

But to simplify the process, on the Roku, load the PLEX channel. Now go to your local server/PC, browse the web for Plex [http://www.plexapp.com/getplex/]. There’s two parts to PLEX the server and the Media Center… technically, all you need is the ‘server’ portion.

q3vc02wb_thumb Roku with PLEX, Playing ISO's = Very cool.

The installation of PLEX server only takes a few minutes to complete, top to bottom. The interface to PLEX is a browser page, so you can access the server with any device with a browser and connection to your network.

You have to tell the PLEX server where your media files are… You can name the sections, add the media folders you want; it’s fairly straight forward.

ptvfdfuy_thumb Roku with PLEX, Playing ISO's = Very cool.

Your movie collection is read, tagged and organized by PLEX; the GUI is very well planned. The server will take some time in digging through your collections, don’t be upset when the system seems unresponsive or kind of slow; it’s working the in the background.

cn0xceo2_thumb Roku with PLEX, Playing ISO's = Very cool.

Back over on the Roku, running PLEX for the first time, it’ll search out your PLEX media server. If you can’t find it auto magically, you can add it manually with just entering the IP of the PLEX server.

Now using the PLEX channel, you can now start running through the music and movies collection you’ve just setup.

2rimfbez_thumb Roku with PLEX, Playing ISO's = Very cool.

Now earlier, I was discussing playing my movie collection [just the feature movie ISO’s] directly to the Roku; well that’s what PLEX does, it’s reading the ISO’s and converting that on-the-fly to be displayed on my TV. I may have missed the announcement, but I couldn’t find where PLEX supported ISO playback, but it was doing it; and doing it quite well.

If it doesn’t do it natively, it could be because I have a codec [K-lite] pack loaded on my PLEX server PC [maybe]. All I can say for sure, it that it’s working. I’m able to enjoy my entire ISO collection without having to convert a single file or waste anymore hard drive space.

My focus was on the ISO’s, but Roku supports many other formats as well, and I have not had any issues with those. The music and photo browsing isn’t as good as I’d like, but that’s okay— it does work.

But what this means to me is that I can Facebook, Netflix, Amazon, HuluPlus, Pandora AND watch my own content using Roku. At this point, this leaves me paying for TV service at a premium… My son is hooked on cartoons and I have to keep cable for just the kids shows; everything else I can get via Roku and streaming services. At $99 it’s a good option.

Now, not only can you stream your media to your Roku/TV with PLEX, PLEX is a media server, so you can stream this same content to your other devices like Windows, Android and iOS. Making a fee small changes to your local firewall, you could stream this content anywhere.

So, yes; Roku with PLEX, playing all my ISO movies, MP3’s and browsing my home movies and pictures on my living room TV, very cool.


Thank you,
Larry Henry Jr.

…via Dragon NaturallySpeaking 11

zemified_c Roku with PLEX, Playing ISO's = Very cool.

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  • Fabio

    Dear Larry,

    Can you please tell if it is possible to access the Dvd menu from the Roku interface ? Like selecting languages, subtitles, extras, etc.

    • Sorry for the late reply; I've been on on vacation. Well, Roku isn't doing the DVD reading. It's coming from Plex. I don't rip movies with the menus, but it's something I could try… So far my experience with Plex and Roku have been great.


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  • Charles S.

    I definitely would like to know what you did to Plex to get it to stream ISO's successfully! It's the one hurdle that is preventing me from using Plex, as like you, I have my media library was ripped to ISO format and I just don't have any desire to covert 2000+ ISO's when they work on my Patriot Box Office and Popcorn Hour.

    If you are transcoding on the Plex server, on the fly, then in theory I would think my LG "Smart" TV and its built in Plex App might work as well.

    • I'm running Plex server on my PC. From what I have read Plex doesn't support ISO, but it's working for me. Now, I do have a codec pack loaded on my PC which may be allowing Plex on my PC to read the ISO's and play them on Plex media center. When I tried Plex MC for the first time, the ISO's worked which got me kind of excited, but the glee was when I was able to stream that to the Roku Plex channel… I'm still playing with it.

      I hope this helps…


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  • Charles S.

    Its definitely promising that you are able to do it, it would be even more so if we could figure out specifically how. I would have thought that if it was as simple as adding a codec pack, one of the super-geeks (I say that in a good way) would have figured it out long ago. I wonder if the Roku is actually playing an ISO or is your PC converting it , on the fly, to a format it can read. I wonder if you check your CPU load, while watch an ISO on the Roku, if you could see any particular application taking up a high percentage of the CPU. I truly do hope its something on the computer side as then I don't have to rely on Plex releasing updates for my Smart TV and any other Plex capable device I may purchase. 🙂

    • I have another machine, that has no codecs; I'm going to install Plex server on that machine and see if I get the same results. The reason I chose my machine was the hardware specifications; the other machine is lower on the performance side— I was trying to avoid buffer issues… I will report back when I've done that… my paying gig is getting in the way right now. 😀


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      • Charles S.

        Yes, work has a way of interfering with one's personal life! 🙂 I'm monitoring the thread so I look forward to your update with your test results. If you do load a codec pack , please keep track of the exact one so i can test at my end as well. I think the only pack I have installed in the Klite pack presently and I'd have to check that as I can't recall if its on my Windows 7 boot drive or just my Windows XP boot drive.

        • Okay, I have tested the Plex server on an older machine with no codecs no special stuff and found that although Plex says they don't officially support ISO play back, Plex server DOES play ISO's. I have also confirmed that if you don't have a server powerful enough to run Plex server, Plex on the Roku box will experience heavy buffering issues. I have to encode a full DVD to test for DVD menu options— we'll see.


  • Charles S.

    If Plex did support ISO and its based on the server side software, the it would work on my LG Smart TV, but it does not. Maybe its a combination of the Roku and plex. Menus cant be the diference as i have ripped many without and I still get erors trying to load them. I may have to get the Roku 🙂 Can you post the version of plex on your pc and which Roku model you have. im in Canada, so hopefully the US versions of Roku's are the same, with the exception to the access to the diferent netflix, hulu, etc.

    • Plex-Media-Server-0.9.603.140-9c9f5ce-en-US.exe
      I concur that the Roku isn't doing the work, Plex is. And the Plex server is adding the reading and transcoding to the ISO's. I'm sure there's more to it… Roku 2 XS…

      I hope this helps…


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  • Bob

    Loading it up now, so far so good…

  • BOB

    Ok,movies play, but i get no audio..any ideas?

    • I had someone report that to me the other day too. Although I'm not having an issue, they were having it. But they found that if they updated to the beta version of Plex server the audio worked… something to make an attempt at. Also, I have found that the Plex doesn't allow for language selection with ISO's. So, if you run in to a situation where the language is incorrect, you'll have to re-encode with just a language you want; then it works fine.

      I hope this helps…


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  • Paul


    Which codec pack are you using on your Win7 PC ?

  • I tried this, but it doesn’t seem to work very well. For one movie, it decided to play the french audio, and for another movie, it just brought up the DVD menu and wouldn’t let me navigate the menu to play the movie. Suggestions?

    • Technically, Plex doesn’t support the playback of ISO, although it does work. In my experiences, I have run into situations where some ISOs have problems; but I don’t know why. But in regards to your problem, I have seen this issue too; the correction/workaround is to create an ISO from the original ISO, but remove the other language streams from the ISO.

      As far as navigation, navigation is not supported by Plex, in the movies that I use that are ISO, are just the movies.

      If you decide that trying to play ISOs is too much of a difficulty, I have another article that explains how to convert your ISOs to MP4, as a batch command.


      I hope this helps…


  • Hi Larry, all my movies are in ISO format and I recently bought a Roku and installed Plex. I moved the Boxee to the bedroom which plays ISO’s perfectly. I cannot get Roku to play my ISO’s at all. You mentioned a codec pack for Plex. Can you explain that? It would take weeks to convert all my movies and I would love to be able to avoid it if possible.

    • I should mention that Roku with Plex doesn’t support playing ISO’s natively, so getting them to work at all, is a plus, but it does work for me. In my case I’m playing only the movie ISO. you might want to make an attempt at this first before making any other changes to your system…
      I hope this helps…


    • 172pilot

      @Todd: Does the Boxee let you interact with the menus too? So, just like if you put the DVD in? That’s what I’m looking for.. (Roku didn’t work for me either!) Also – @Larry: When you say you’re “just playing the movie ISO” I don’t know what you mean.. did you rip to AVI and then burn to another ISO or something, or are these original ISOs that when burned, have the menu structure? Will I be able to use closed captions?

      • Just the movie ISO was ripped; not the entire DVD with menus. The ISO is then/or could be converted to any format you’d like. If you are looking to use closed captions MKV files seem to be the way to go there.

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  • Larry, you keep saying the same thing in your responses to people. If it worked for you, can you explain how? If you have such a codex…what is it? Otherwise you might put a big warning tag on your article because on its face it’s a big push for Roku which really doesn’t support ISO.

    • Sure— but again, I’m playing the movie ISO using Roku and PLEX [in the title], not the whole DVD [w/structure]. I mention this in the article and I’ve added the k-lite codec mention in the post. It’s a standard codec pack/suite; nothing special. I have already laid out what I did. I can’t say that every PC is going to work because Plex doesn’t officially support it. And to the point of me misleading my readers; I do mention PLEX in the article many times and with the screenshots. I’m sorry you feel like you were mislead.