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Roku HD1000

Discussion in 'Televisions' started by cwick, May 4, 2004.

  1. cwick

    cwick
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    Thought I'd post a brief write up of the Roku HD1000 since I've received a couple of PMs about it recently. Not sure if it belongs in this forum but I had to pick one.

    What is it ? In brief, it's a set-top box for playing music and showing hi-def photos. Music support is for MP3 and WAV; I can't really comment on the photo side since I don't use it. It has no (well, none to speak of) onboard storage. The front panel hosts a bank of memory card slots on which your music or photos can reside, and it also handles network connected storage via either wired ethernet or a third-party USB WiFi adaptor. The ethernet is 10/100 - that'll come in handy later ;)

    On the back there's the ethernet, analogue L/R, co-ax digtal out, USB, VGA and two sets of component connections. One out, the other pass-thru. The pass-thru is passive, although the HD1K can be configured to 'sense' static screens on the pass-thru and start playing a slide-show (kind of screen-burn prevention) - implying that, perhaps, it's not entirely passive. It outputs 480i/p, 720i/p, 1080i, and a handful of computer resolutions.

    The GUI is nice, clean and simple. It's reminiscent of various PC frontends, with nice big graphics and text that are easy to read from a distance. Navigation thru photos is by thumbnail, whilst you browse music using a file-navigator. There's screengrabs on the Roku site, www.rokulabs.com.

    And that, out of the box, is pretty much it - music, photos, screensaver. And it does these things well and, for the price (<£200), it's not too bad at it. There's better for handling your music, although not a lot that'll do hi-def photos on your display.

    But it can do other things too. Inside, there's an ATI Xilleon 225 multi-media processor which, among other things, can decode 2 HD MPEG streams at the same time, with audio, while juggling kittens. To take advantage of that there's a beta application, StreamPlayer, that will playback raw transport streams (.ts files). And it does it very well - I noticed considerably less mpeg artifacts when compared with the elecard player via a Radeon 9600. Network bandwidth can be an issue here though - hence the 100Mbps port ;)

    It'll also play your ripped DVDs too. A thirdparty application, CinemaSix, will playback VOB files. Upscaled and deinterlaced, if you'd prefer. This one is *very* beta though, but once it's running, it will get through a whole DVD glitch free. This application will also accept HTTP streams from, for example, a VideoLan server.

    Right now video formats are limited to NTSC though. It will usually play PAL material (either VOB or .ts streams), but never well. There will either be poor sound sync on playback, or frame tearing (frame rate conversion problems, I assume), or no playback at all. Roku have stated that PAL will be supported in the next release though (well, they said '50hz formats'. I hope that means the same thing !), along with 'official' VOB support.

    It doesn't do anything other than MPEG, so no Divx or whatever. I've found using VLC to stream a transcoded HTTP stream to be workable (or have VLC transcode to disk).

    Audio-wise, only MP3 and WAV is a bit limiting. AAC and, I think, Ogg are on the way - Roku have also stated that the HD1000 will be kept inline with the SoundBridge (their clone of a SlimDevices Squeezebox) in terms of sound abilities.

    Finally, it's worth pointing out that Roku provide the SDK to all as an open API, and run an active developer mailing list that they actually respond to. This is encouraging people to start playing with the Roku ... finger crossed there should be some neat applications as a result (CinemaSix notwithstanding).

    Sorry, that was longer than expected. In short - cool toy, does neat stuff, requires you to roll-up your sleeves at the moment but shows much promise.

    Cheers, Carl.
     
  2. dsp fan

    dsp fan
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    carl,

    given your excellent write up, I am happy it only plays .ts streams but does it have to be over a cabled network from a PC, can it not be from a usb plug drive or firewire ?

    thanks
     
  3. cwick

    cwick
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    Hi mate,

    Been a while since I wrote that .... sold the Roku ages ago :)

    But, from what I remember, the USB is only 10Mbps max, so not fast enough for HiDef, and borderline for Standard def material.

    It doesn't have a firewire connection on it (and a USB to firewire dongle - assuming there is such a thing - would still be restricted to 10Mbps.

    Last time I was on the developer mailing list there was much talk about NAS solutions (big fast hard disks on Ethernet, in case you didn't know already), which some people had some success with. But I haven't kept up to speed so much of this info may be out of date.

    HTH.

    Cheers, Carl.
     
  4. museumsteve

    museumsteve
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    love my HD1000, wouldn;t be without it :)
     

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