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What an odd limitations. I wonder why they can't make subtitles work on the older hardware. Is it that these are line 21 closed captions rather than true subtitles, and the old hardware cannot support line 21?

Or is it that they're choosing to not make subtitles available on older hardware?


Buhhhhhh, I have 2 original Roku's. I thought the whole deal about Roku's was how upgradable they were. Unless there is a real, legit, reason that you can't run their subtitles technology on the Original Roku models I'm going to be a bit teetered off. With a baby in the house I sometimes live off subtitles.


@gir "Or is it that they're choosing to not make subtitles available on older hardware?"

Hopefully this is not the nature of Roku, the company. But this news does remind me of another company that developes user-friendly hardware but manages to keep their loyal customers buying "the next version" over and over again... (think Dancing Shadow Zombies)

James Heartney

This contradicts what I was told yesterday by Roku tech support. They specifically said that subtitles would be enabled on older Rokus after the next update.


"this news does remind me of another company that developes user-friendly hardware but manages to keep their loyal customers buying "the next version" over and over again"

I thought you were talking about Western Digital with their WD TV Gen1, WD TV Gen2, WD TV Mini, WD TV Live, WD TV Live Plus, and WD TV Live Hub that they release all within a two year period.


I too was told by Roku tech that subtitles would be on all Rokus soon as the update rolls out. With the lawsuits from the hearing impaired I can see this being a sticky issue for them. Perhaps Roku should be required to give a full refund or full price store credit to anyone who shows a need for subtitles?

Kevin Benore

I get subtitles NOW on other apps, like TED. So there should be no reason Netflix could not on this "older" hardware.


I could be wrong, but as far as I know there is no way to turn subtitles on or off in any of the Roku channels. Any subtitles you might see today are embedded. Embedded subtitles don't count; NetFlix is not going to put embedded subtitles in every one of their titles.

What we need is overlay graphic subtitles that can be turned on when needed. It may be that older Roku models aren't capable of doing overlay graphics (though that would be an astounding oversight on Roku's part).


gir, Subtitles can be turned on and off on the fly. Hulu does it just fine. Rumors were that the star button on the remote would be used for that.

Netflix has dropped the ball on this one. Hulu has dynamic video and subtitles, Amazon has 5.1. Netflix has simply chosen not to offer these features to original Roku owners despite the fact that we were the foundation of their streaming business. They can talk about codecs and such all day but it's crap.


Fair enough - then my money is on what the tech told you - Netflix subtitles will work on older models.

I thought I saw someone mention the 3.0 update was available. I'm going to go do an update check on my Roku.


FWIW: 3.0 is not yet available on my Roku. I tried forcing an update by checking half a dozen times. No dice.


Subtitles, etc definitely not on old (current) hardware. Read for yourself but it sounds to me like new hardware required for new Netflix streaming format.

From Roku forums:

"Roku 2 Netflix features and previous generation Roku players

Postby RokuTom » Fri Jul 22, 2011 7:29 pm
Hi everyone,

Roku 2 players take advantage of new encodings from Netflix that make several new features possible in the Netflix app:

• Adaptive bitrate streaming. That means the quality of the video signal will adjust constantly to the speed of your Internet connection.
• 1080p support for TVs that support 1080p.
• Dolby Digital Plus 5.1 pass-through to home theater receivers.
• Subtitles.

Unfortunately, these new encodings will not be supported on previous generation Roku players. We try to ensure that new features in a channel are supported on all previous generations of players. However, this is not always possible.

Thank you for understanding. Please write us at [email protected] if you have additional comments or suggestions you want to share.

Tom Markworth, Director of Product Management
on behalf of the Roku team"


When I had hulu plus, it did closed captioning fine. The reason I discontinued hulu plus, was because of network lag.



JohnD, we've seen what was posted. The fact however is that it's crap. The Roku can support subtitles. Netflix simply has to enable them. Hulu can do them on the fly so the new ap that has them selected before the movie should be a piece of cake.

Hulu also does dynamic streaming but I'd settle for subtitles.

I was against the lawsuits but I may change my stance on that. They really are telling people with hearing issues to not so politely suck it up.


Just another strike against Netflix. I was always told that ALL Roku devices were caption-capable (I have an original Roku box), so this has to be on Netflix.

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