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Roku To Go Open Source

timothy posted about 6 years ago | from the what's-in-the-box dept.

Television 140

ruphus13 writes "Time-shifting via Tivo changed the way we consume television programming. Now, Open Source enters the fray. Roku, the streaming-media set-top box has decided to Open Source its software. Roku had received praise for its streaming solution, and was in the press recently for its deal with Netflix, allowing users to stream Netflix movies directly to the box. From the article, 'Roku will release an open source version of its software by the end of the year. The CEO says he's looking for deals with content providers to stream their products through his device, and hopes to sell a bunch of them as a result.'"

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If only all companies had this vision (3, Insightful)

gladbach (527602) | about 6 years ago | (#25206723)

I dream of the day that I don't need to pay for cable, and can go strictly on demand for a reasonable price point.

Re:If only all companies had this vision (1)

MightyYar (622222) | about 6 years ago | (#25206815)

iTunes is sooooooo... close. Even at $2/episode, that's like 30 episodes of TV for the cost of a $60 cable bill. Movie rentals are in the ballpark with Blockbuster or on-demand. They need more selection, the quality is not yet up to broadcast, and the price needs to drift down so that you wouldn't consider cable.

Me, personally... I'd use it a lot more if they'd drop the DRM. I don't want an Apple TV, thank you very much - and my DVD player can do mpeg4 just fine. It even has a usb port.

Re:If only all companies had this vision (1)

internerdj (1319281) | about 6 years ago | (#25206907)

Depends on your viewing level. Having things on demand is nice but at an average of 6 hours of viewing a day, $2 an episode is hardly cost effective for most people. At an average viewing level you would reach a cable bill in less than a week and a premium package with all the bells and whistles in less than two. The price needs to drift way down before it is main stream.

Re:If only all companies had this vision (3, Insightful)

MightyYar (622222) | about 6 years ago | (#25207041)

I agree about price, but...

SIX HOURS A DAY!!!! OH MY GOD!!! The price of iTunes is the least of your worries! Even a whole movie a day only gets you in the 2 hours a day ballpark.

I mean, yeah, I watch a few shows... The Office, Weeds, South Park, Family Guy... but holy shit, 6 hours? Even if you're disabled that's a lot of time on your ass!

Re:If only all companies had this vision (1)

internerdj (1319281) | about 6 years ago | (#25207107)

Not me. That was the last average figure I saw on US viewers. I think it was early spring when I saw it. I agree that is alot of time wasted.

Re:If only all companies had this vision (1)

Firehed (942385) | about 6 years ago | (#25210151)

I think (and certainly hope) that a good portion of that time is really just "TV on as background noise". I don't think there are enough hours in the day for anyone with a job to actually WATCH 6 hours of TV a day. Hell, I'm a freelancer working at home and I couldn't find nearly that much time to sit on my ass doing nothing *cough*slashdotdoesntcount*cough* if I wanted to, not that I do.

Of course, the only shows I watch that are on regularly are the Colbert Report and the Daily Show, which is about 45 minutes total four times a week (yay Hulu and fairly short commercials and no longer having to screw around with bittorrent), just over 2.5 hrs. I'll also watch BSG and Mythbusters when new episodes are out, which would equate to about another 45min/show when they're out, not more than once a week. And I only watch either just before bed or first thing in the morning, depending on when the shows hit my RSS reader (and whether I've been working until 5am again), so I'm not really losing time that could be otherwise spent on something particularly meaningful.

The idea of watching TV taking up the same amount of time as a full-time job just blows my mind. And it explains a decent amount about people's priorities and why we're dealing with all of this economic nonsense.

Re:If only all companies had this vision (1)

Ngarrang (1023425) | about 6 years ago | (#25207451)

Even if you're disabled that's a lot of time on your ass!

Don't have a kid, do ya? My TV is on Noggin, Nick, Cartoon, or Baby First TV all day. The programming is educational and entertaining at the same time for much of what my 3-yr watches. And he is learning Spanish while he is at it.

I will stick with my DirecTV, thank you.

Re:If only all companies had this vision (4, Insightful)

characterZer0 (138196) | about 6 years ago | (#25207579)

Man, too bad my kid is missing out on all this packaged education while she is reading books, playing with blocks, playing outside, and "helping" her parents.

Re:If only all companies had this vision (3, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 years ago | (#25207667)

Stacking blocks will be good practice for her future career as a late night stocker at Wal-Mart.

Re:If only all companies had this vision (1)

j-pimp (177072) | about 6 years ago | (#25207881)

Stacking blocks will be good practice for her future career as a late night stocker at Wal-Mart.

Or as a foundation to the fine motor skills necessary to effectively manipulate objects such as pens, mice, and keyboards. Even knowledge workers have to do some physical labor.

Re:If only all companies had this vision (1)

maxume (22995) | about 6 years ago | (#25208835)

A normal child given no attention whatsoever will pretty much go ahead and develop the fine motor skills necessary to effectively manipulate objects. I think you would have to actively work to prevent them from doing so (i.e., immobilize their hands, prevent access to graspable objects, etc.).

Re:If only all companies had this vision (2, Interesting)

Abreu (173023) | about 6 years ago | (#25207819)

No need to get all holier-than-thou on this.

My kids (ages 4 and 1), also get the full-parenting experience: playing with blocks, reading/crayoning books, learning english...

However, BabyFirstTV/DiscoveryKids/NickJR are absolute lifesavers when we need them to stay in their room for an hour or so.

BabyFirstTV also has THE BEST sleep-inducing programming after 9pm

Re:If only all companies had this vision (0, Offtopic)

gumpish (682245) | about 6 years ago | (#25208059)

"God is dead" - Nietzsche, 1882

"Nietzsche is dead" - God, 1900

LOLOLOLOLOLOLOLOLOLOLOLOLOLOLOL

Re:If only all companies had this vision (1)

Chyeld (713439) | about 6 years ago | (#25207853)

Every now and then we remove the bung from the bunghole in the barrel we keep ours in and pour some more gruel in. They seem appreciative: "Thank you sir! May I please have some more?", and it's alot cheaper than the alternatives.

Re:If only all companies had this vision (1)

SETIGuy (33768) | about 6 years ago | (#25207877)

Are those building blocks, or are you giving her mental blocks to play with?

Sure building blocks are fun now, but mental blocks she'll keep for the rest of her life.

Re:If only all companies had this vision (1)

street struttin' (1249972) | about 6 years ago | (#25207829)

Isn't this the plot of that movie, "Cable Guy"?

Re:If only all companies had this vision (1)

MightyYar (622222) | about 6 years ago | (#25207975)

I do have a kid, but I don't have cable. We restrict her to a single episode of Dora or Backyardigans or some such per day.

There are studies linking TV to ADD in young kids.

We tried the current "no TV until 3 years" advice, but while combing through her really curly hair she would just cry for 10 minutes or so. This way she at least doesn't cry, so hopefully it won't be too bad for her.

Oh, we also whip it out on trips. It only works for 45 minutes or so, but every minute counts on a long car ride.

Re:If only all companies had this vision (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 years ago | (#25208585)

I have a 2 and 4 year old and they only get an hour or so of TV every day. They are both far ahead of our friends' kids that watch more TV. TV is not a babysitter.

Re:If only all companies had this vision (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 years ago | (#25209863)

I've got two kids, 3 and 5 (soon to be 4 and 6). They watch a couple of hours of TV a week.

So what's your point?

Re:If only all companies had this vision (2, Informative)

juiceboxfan (990017) | about 6 years ago | (#25207365)

...but at an average of 6 hours of viewing a day...

Apparently you are off by about 50% [nationmaster.com] . But Four hours [cedmagazine.com] a day is still a lot.

In the US only old people watch TV [broadcastengineering.com] anyway.;-)

Re:If only all companies had this vision (1)

dwarg (1352059) | about 6 years ago | (#25207445)

Netflix is actually much closer to this than iTunes already. For $52.25 you can sign up for their 8 DVDs at a time plan which could easily provide you with 4 hours of TV or movies a day just from the DVDs, it also allows unlimited streaming content. But I think the amount of TV watched would go down dramatically with this model.

Which brings us to the other major benefit of a strictly "on demand" model. Less time wasted channel surfing and zoning out to stuff you don't really care about.

Once people are actively deciding, and paying money for, what they're going to watch they start to make better choices, save time and ultimately money.

Not to mention this would provide an escape from offensive and intelligence insulting commercials-aside from product placement and slashvertisments of course.

Re:If only all companies had this vision (1)

mattack2 (1165421) | about 6 years ago | (#25209069)

Which brings us to the other major benefit of a strictly "on demand" model. Less time wasted channel surfing and zoning out to stuff you don't really care about. ...
Not to mention this would provide an escape from offensive and intelligence insulting commercials-aside from product placement and slashvertisments of course.

Umm, Tivo/DVRs/DVD recorders, and before that, VCRs, have allowed this ability for literally decades. (Unfortunately, there's also the "bugs", i.e. animated logos, that show up a lot on TV shows within the past decade or so.) Though I still tend to see most commercials I hear people talk about.. once. (Even some commercials are worth going back to -- e.g. new Jack in the Box commercials.. I can tell what the commercial is while 30 second skipping through them.) Strangely, the new show "Fringe" is telling me how many 30 second skips I have to do to get through the commercial break on most of the breaks (all but the last one, IIRC).

I watch a lot of TV, so $2/episode is WAY too much for me.. but even though I have lifetime-subscribed Tivos, I would prefer the ability to pay for each individual show, without commercials.. The prices are just way too high, and at least the current offerings don't seem to keep the old shows online forever. OTA HD + Netflix (including a Roku box, which
I don't have), with more current cable offerings (e.g. even the World Series of Poker, one of the very few things I need ESPN for) would come very close to fulfilling what I want to watch.

Re:If only all companies had this vision (1)

HiVizDiver (640486) | about 6 years ago | (#25207655)

I agree with this as well. I haven't bought any episodic television off of iTunes. My girlfriend does all the time, though - she watches shows while she works out. I can't swallow even $2 for a TV show, though - it just seems like it would add up very quickly to me. I'd also feel like I had to be way more choosy about what I watch, as I am at heart a "channel surfer", I'd feel pretty restricted.

Interestingly enough, I don't mind renting movies that way (through PS3, etc.). Maybe because I can rent an entire movie for $3 (standard definition) vs. $2 for 42 minutes worth of television. I know, we're talking about fractions of a dollar difference per unit of time, but somehow my brain is programmed that way.

Re:If only all companies had this vision (1)

mweather (1089505) | about 6 years ago | (#25209229)

You think $60 for ~10 hours (15 hrs, sans ads) of TV is a good deal? That 2-3 days of TV for the average person.

Re:If only all companies had this vision (4, Insightful)

electrosoccertux (874415) | about 6 years ago | (#25207003)

That's exactly what they're trying to prevent, with things like the 250GB cap. They'll let you get all the internets you want, but when it infringes on their space (content), they don't want any of that kind of competition.

Otherwise people could just download all the HD movies and shows they want through a subscription service like Netflix (or hopefully through a cheaper, bittorrent backed solution), and get rid of the cable TV.

Re:If only all companies had this vision (1)

fm6 (162816) | about 6 years ago | (#25207641)

Do some math. A DVD holds 8GB, which is actually a lot more than the movie itself needs (hence all those extras). That means that even with a 250GB cap, you can watch a DVD-quality movie every day of the month without going over. And most online video streams are not DVD quality.

Re:If only all companies had this vision (1)

TooMuchToDo (882796) | about 6 years ago | (#25209393)

My Roku box, streaming at maximum quality Netflix provides for a standard def. movie, uses about 6Mb/sec. Just throwing the stat out there.

Re:If only all companies had this vision (1)

fm6 (162816) | about 6 years ago | (#25209875)

If I could get a 6Mb connection at a reasonable price (mine's less than 2Mb, and it's the best available) I'd consider a 250GB cap a cheap tradeoff.

Re:If only all companies had this vision (1)

mweather (1089505) | about 6 years ago | (#25209557)

Most online streams TODAY are not HD. The only possible reason they wouldn't be in the future would be if ISPs imposed bandwidth caps. Coincidentally, these ISPS are rolling out their own video on demand services at the same time they are capping the amount of content you can download from other providers.

Re:If only all companies had this vision (1)

fm6 (162816) | about 6 years ago | (#25209957)

In case you hadn't noticed, nobody gives a heck about HD. The number of folks willing and able to spend the bucks for the necessary hardware is pretty small. For most of us, the problem is getting access to content of any quality. And there the problem isn't some strange conspiracy to impose bandwidth caps. It's the unwillingness of the content hoarders to release it, except as part of overpriced bundles.

Re:If only all companies had this vision (1)

LotsOfPhil (982823) | about 6 years ago | (#25207079)

What are you watching? I haven't had cable for 3 months now and am doing okay. You can watch a lot on Hulu (Colbert Report, Daily Show, Battlestar Galactica) and NBC.com (Heroes, The Office). Netflix has some shows, too, as part of their instant view. Hulu and NBC have ads, but are free. Netflix has no ads and starts at ~$8 a month.
There is a lot out there and am not referring to torrents.

Re:If only all companies had this vision (2, Interesting)

edmicman (830206) | about 6 years ago | (#25207617)

In my experience trying to get web-based video like Hulu and the respective network sites hooked up to a TV for a true TV-like experience is a PITA. Sure, you can s-video out, or have something like Media Center or MythTV....but ultimately I've found you still have a computer hooked up to a TV, with the same interface pitfalls.

Watching your shows on a computer monitor may work in the dorms, but for relaxing on the couch with the wife, it doesn't cut it.

Re:If only all companies had this vision (1)

LotsOfPhil (982823) | about 6 years ago | (#25210313)

I'm watching it from my couch on my (SD) TV. When you click full screen with Netflix, it is not apparent that you are watching via a computer. All the other ones are the same, better or worse. The point of my post is that there is a lot of free and easily accessible content out there. This is pretty important if you are hoping to be able to ditch paying for cable.

Re:If only all companies had this vision (1)

TooMuchToDo (882796) | about 6 years ago | (#25209517)

You can watch Heroes the day after it airs on Netflix Watch It Now, even with your Roku box. That's how we do it, since we don't have cable or an outside antenna.

Re:If only all companies had this vision (3, Informative)

lysergic.acid (845423) | about 6 years ago | (#25207271)

TV is already becoming an anachronism when almost everyone has broadband internet access through which they can receive on-demand content uncontrolled by the major television networks. now all that needs to be done is for a legal and user-friendly solutions to be developed.

Miro (formerly known as Democracy Player) is one service that directly connects content-producers with end users without going through traditional distribution channels. thus television networks are no longer the gatekeepers of media distribution.

Re:If only all companies had this vision (1)

mattack2 (1165421) | about 6 years ago | (#25209169)

But the "major television networks" also produce many of the good shows on TV. (They produce a lot of crap too, but that's just Sturgeon's Law.) I will include some of the cable channels nowadays too, since they are making more content too (but e.g. even things like "Monk" are under the NBC umbrella and are showing up on NBC itself).

Basically, we also need a way for the *production* of shows to happen without the networks (or a way for shows to continue when the network is no longer interested, via PPV.) I've thought that you could probably get enough people PPVing a Star Trek series to keep it on the air, even if UPN didn't think Enterprise got good enough ratings.

Re:If only all companies had this vision (1)

0100010001010011 (652467) | about 6 years ago | (#25207373)

tvrss [tvrss.net] + pytvshows [sourceforge.net] + rtorrent [rakshasa.no] = Tivo for me.

I work second so it's not like I notice anyway, everything is done by time I get home. All over the waves stuff anyway. I just count it as someone else does the recording and encoding for me.

Re:If only all companies had this vision (1)

Drencrom (689725) | about 6 years ago | (#25207595)

Why do you need pytvshows for? I usually add the rss links directly into ktorrent and download from there.

Re:If only all companies had this vision (1)

0100010001010011 (652467) | about 6 years ago | (#25207711)

rtorrent doesn't support rss feeds and I don't use a gui torrent client (My file server is shoved in a back room with XBMC as the front end)

Re:If only all companies had this vision (1)

gladbach (527602) | about 6 years ago | (#25209467)

tvrss [tvrss.net] + pytvshows [sourceforge.net] + rtorrent [rakshasa.no] = Tivo for me. I work second so it's not like I notice anyway, everything is done by time I get home. All over the waves stuff anyway. I just count it as someone else does the recording and encoding for me.

I already do the same thing combining utorrent/rss/and my original buffalo linktheater for a few years now. However, its not "legal" and I've honestly had my cable turned off for downloading an ep of House. I'm looking for a one stop shop of on demand that works well, is not a pita, and is legal. I'm willing to pay for it too, as long as its reasonable. There is also not a lot of "outside of the mainstream" content out there yet either. I enjoy watching the diy network, and some of the lesser cable networks and shows.

Re:If only all companies had this vision (1)

LeedsSideStreets (998417) | about 6 years ago | (#25207689)

I dream of the day that I don't need to pay for cable, and can go strictly on demand for a reasonable price point.

Exactly. The Netflix + Roku combo seems to be getting really close. You don't have a huge selection of movies - usually not a lot of new releases, so those have the bottleneck of mail service, but you get a lot of other movies instantly and without limit.

I haven't yet pulled the trigger on the Roku device, but this announcement is even more encouragement so I intend to vote with my dollars and support this because they are going in the right direction.

Re:If only all companies had this vision (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 years ago | (#25207805)

It will only matter if I can select content channels on the same image. What would be a much better move is if Roku could have one standard interface and a standard metadata syndication schema and the content provider just uses that and provides some Xml that Roku than reads and says new content provider found that you may like.

Roku big sticking point currently is you have to Queue up movies at Netflix and provides zero discovery experience from the set top box. So the experience is very premeditated and there is no way to just browse like I can on Cable on Demand or a site like Hulu.

Really Roku is going to go obsolete. Once someone figures out how to do Internet browsing on TV in a mainstream way. Why do we have to go to this AOL business model where I have to enslave myself to one content provider over another. There is only so many services I willing to pay 9.99 to 20 dollars a month to :)

Roku problem is they are answering the wrong question.

content? (1)

internerdj (1319281) | about 6 years ago | (#25206727)

Great news, but how is this going to help Netflix case of increasing their streaming selection. If we can see the source much less edit it, aren't the content providers going to just say we can't have any of that. You aren't protecting our IP...No soup for you...

Re:content? (1)

gladbach (527602) | about 6 years ago | (#25206749)

I doubt they are opening up the netflix drm code. I am reasonably sure they are opening everything up to the degree that we will be able to add other sources of content besides netflix.

Re:content? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 years ago | (#25206771)

Great news, but how is this going to help Netflix case of increasing their streaming selection. If we can see the source much less edit it, aren't the content providers going to just say we can't have any of that. You aren't protecting our IP...No soup for you...

Roku makes set-top boxes. The more set-top boxes they make, the more abundant netflix-over-the-internet is. The more money they (netflix) make through their inexpensive streaming, the more incentive they have to convert dvds to streamable content. Netfix tries to compete, everyone wins.

Interesting, captcha = recoded.

Re:content? (2, Insightful)

Neon Spiral Injector (21234) | about 6 years ago | (#25206789)

I have a feeling they'll provide the source to their UI and networking stuff. But the WMV DRM decoding will remain proprietary.

This way other content providers can customize the Roku to work with their service (and plug in their own DRM module).

Hopefully the device can be improved greatly. I had one for a week. Maybe it was just too simple, but I wasn't impressed. I sold it to a friend. I'll just get an Xbox 360 for my Netflix streaming.

Re:content? (2, Informative)

sacherjj (7595) | about 6 years ago | (#25206969)

Roku has the capability to play MPEG4. It doesn't have to deal with the inferior WMV.

Re:content? (1)

Neon Spiral Injector (21234) | about 6 years ago | (#25207307)

Which MPEG4? I'd say that VC-1 (WMV9) is superior to ASP, but indeed prefer AVC to WMV.

As for my complaints about how the Roku currently stands. It only supports DHCP, there's no way to statically configure an IP. While HD support is promised right now it is limited to 480i/p. It does support an anamorphic mode, but that distorts the UI, and actually decreases the available resolution of non-widescreen content (it sends black pillar bars to the left and right of the squashed 4:3 picture which is then stretched to 16:9).

DHCP can give static IPs (1)

tepples (727027) | about 6 years ago | (#25207433)

It only supports DHCP, there's no way to statically configure an IP.

Then set up your DHCP server (in your home NAT router?) to reserve an IP address for your set-top box's MAC number.

Re:content? (1)

Bearhouse (1034238) | about 6 years ago | (#25207947)

Mod parent up.

Otherwise , where's the business model?
I guess they're hoping that the OSS community will create and/or enable more functionality than they can alone. But what then?

1. Software open, so anyone can copy / use / extend.
2. 'Open' hardware becomes equally available, (think IBM-PC)
3. Clone boxes with cracked DRM become freely available.
4. Content providers bail.
5. Profit!!!! Oh wait.

Jobs did not kill the Apple clones for nothing.

And that's before Google gets into the game. Android on a set-top box anyone? The wheel turns full circle - you get all the 'free' movie you want, but you also get the ads big G wants you to get. Next up, 'noscript' for Android?

Re:content? (1)

StreetStealth (980200) | about 6 years ago | (#25206837)

This isn't about just Netflix anymore. Roku's little $99 box just became a potential home for Hulu, Joost, or heck, any one of the huge numbers of companies doing IPTV or even video podcasts now.

This is it. This is the $99 box o' IPTV we were all wating for. Oh, and it even does Netflix!

Re:content? (1)

thrillseeker (518224) | about 6 years ago | (#25207653)

this sort of ability is one of those things I simply can't understand Sony's inability to see that it'd sell more PS3s to have such a capability - instead everything they do seems to be slow leak and excruciatingly Sony-specific in the area of video-on-(quasi)demand - talk about slowly cutting one's own throat

Couldn't find it... (1)

TTURabble (1164837) | about 6 years ago | (#25206745)

So against slashdot convention, I read the article, and it does not mention anything about open source. It does mention opening up the service to anyone and providing an SDK to publish a channel.
See the quote from this article. http://news.cnet.com/8301-1023_3-10050649-93.html [cnet.com]

"We're opening up the platform to anyone who wants to put their video service on this box," Wired cites Wood as saying. "We're going to release the software developer kit, so anyone can publish any channel, and users can access Web content on their TVs."

Re:Couldn't find it... getting a bit ahead (2, Informative)

petes_PoV (912422) | about 6 years ago | (#25207005)

The story says that Roku will release an open source version - in the hope that it'll help them sell more boxes.

This (slashdot article) is a story about a story of something that will/might happen in the future. I wouldn't hold my breathe waiting for the outcome.

MythTV? (1)

SanityInAnarchy (655584) | about 6 years ago | (#25206757)

Is their software significantly better than MythTV?

If so, how?

If not, why don't they just sell a MythTV box?

Re:MythTV? (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 years ago | (#25206849)

Is a Ford Escort significantly better than a 3 Ghz Core 2 Quad with 2 GB of memory and 1TB disk space?

Re:MythTV? (1)

jedidiah (1196) | about 6 years ago | (#25206977)

You "watch TV" on a Roku. I "watch TV" on MythTV.

How does your gibberish make any sense in light of that fact?

The Roku is cheap and simple and is of course somewhat limited.

That still doesn't mean that someone with more than 5TB of space
in his MythTV setup (like me) isn't going to eyeball this thing
too (Roku). ...a little unlikely, but still possible.

100 bux is like 3 BluRay titles...

Re:MythTV? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 years ago | (#25207239)

You "watch TV" on a Roku. I "watch TV" on MythTV.

How does your gibberish make any sense in light of that fact?

The Roku is cheap and simple and is of course somewhat limited.

That still doesn't mean that someone with more than 5TB of space
in his MythTV setup (like me) isn't going to eyeball this thing
too (Roku). ...a little unlikely, but still possible.

100 bux is like 3 BluRay titles...

I believe they are trying to say that it is a comparison of apples to oranges.

Re:MythTV? (2, Insightful)

H0p313ss (811249) | about 6 years ago | (#25207605)

I believe they are trying to say that it is a comparison of apples to oranges.

Sounds more like they were saying it is a comparison of apples to Orangutans.

Re:MythTV? (1)

norminator (784674) | about 6 years ago | (#25207851)

Currently, the Roku box is only used to stream certain NetFlix titles. You don't really watch "TV" in general on it, although there may be certain TV shows available in NetFlix's streaming catalog (I've never used it, but from everyting I've heard, it's a pretty skimpy catalog). The Roku box is not a DVR, though.

It may be possible to use the Roku as a MythTV FrontEnd, but that would just be one of the available channels, which is the point of releasing an SDK so that people can make up whatever video channels they want for it. If someone does create a Myth Frontend channel for it, I would probably strongly consider buying one, although I would imagine that with the limited hardware in the Roku box, it wouldn't have all of the functionality of a regular Myth frontend (I would imagine it would have the bare-bones functionality of just browsing your library and playing shows, it probably wouldn't have the whole Myth UI and themes, and maybe you wouldn't even be able to create and edit recording schedules)

The Roku box is certainly not equipped to be used as a backend, as it has no significant storage, no recording hardware, and not a lot of processing power, aside from being able to decode video.

Re:MythTV? (1)

lordofthechia (598872) | about 6 years ago | (#25208041)

As long as it can surf Hulu and play its media, it would be well worth it.

Re:MythTV? (1)

TooMuchToDo (882796) | about 6 years ago | (#25209597)

I'd also like the LED on the Roku box to flash red instead of be on solid blue when it checks my Hulu queue and finds new content in there for me to watch.

Re:MythTV? (1)

jedidiah (1196) | about 6 years ago | (#25208245)

Currently, the Roku box is only used to stream certain NetFlix titles. You don't really watch "TV" in general on it, although there may be certain TV shows available in NetFlix's streaming catalog (I've never used it, but from everyting I've heard, it's a pretty skimpy catalog). The Roku box is not a DVR, though.

Sounds like HBO or PPV.

There's no good reason that such a system can't constitute "watching TV".

Some of us "watched TV" like that in the 70s.
The difference now is that you can do it on your own schedule.

There's no point in fixating on arbitrary labels.

Re:MythTV? (2, Insightful)

StreetStealth (980200) | about 6 years ago | (#25206925)

MythTV resides in an entirely different market from this.

Myth's featureset has always been built around DVR features; your Myth box sits downstream from a cable box or tuner. The Roku box, on the other hand, is the content source.

Right now, it's being sold as a Netflix streaming device. In the future, though, any company could theoretically provide client software for it to stream other proprietary or open content.

Re:MythTV? (1)

jedidiah (1196) | about 6 years ago | (#25207031)

Not quite.

I can use MythTV as a jukebox and get a lot of the same
niftiness that people get out of the roku or the AppleTV.

If the picture on the Roku sucks then MythTV has a clear
advantage. Although the "target market" might not care.
Then again, that might drive them to AppleTV.

When looking at their demo units (atv), I see a lot
of stuff for sale there that's already on my mythvideo
jukebox.

Re:MythTV? (1)

spectre_240sx (720999) | about 6 years ago | (#25207127)

Who said the picture on the Roku sucks? I've been quite pleased with mine.

Re:MythTV? (1)

gladbach (527602) | about 6 years ago | (#25207477)

Using it as a jukebox, not considering it as a dvr, then yeah, the roku could certainly be far better. At that point, you'd be better off buying a popcornhour or other such media set top than wasting your time on a mythtv, having it sit by your TV making noise etc. Toss a few Hard drives into your existing computers, open them up on various network share types, and let a set top box like the roku (once opened) or a popcornhour, or any of the many devices to the heavy lifting. So yeah, not considering the dvr functionality, its likely to be superior to a mythtv setup in both functionality and upfront costs.

Re:MythTV? (1)

jedidiah (1196) | about 6 years ago | (#25208579)

This is the 21st century.

A PC is not necessarily large, ugly and noisy anymore.

If you've got a setup that you can plug a popcorn hour into
then there's no reason you can't use any random media server
software.

Re:MythTV? (1)

gladbach (527602) | about 6 years ago | (#25208977)

You are absolutely correct. However I did mention cost points. 99$ for a roku, or 200 for a popcornhour vs significantly more for a PC version that isn't large, ugly and noisy.

Re:MythTV? (1)

edmicman (830206) | about 6 years ago | (#25207637)

Can you stream Netflix video on your MythTV box?

Re:MythTV? (1)

GaidinTS (1322087) | about 6 years ago | (#25207789)

Yes, but only through virtualization of windows. The benefit I see to open roku is that we might be able to use the software to stream netflix natively.

Re:MythTV? (1)

sacherjj (7595) | about 6 years ago | (#25206991)

You can have multiple heads for only $99 a piece and the head is smaller than a large paper back book. THAT is how it is significantly better than MythTV. I would have a MythTV backend that can stream to multiple Roku front ends. This would make me very happy.

Re:MythTV? (1)

bill_mcgonigle (4333) | about 6 years ago | (#25209471)

You can have multiple heads for only $99 a piece and the head is smaller than a large paper back book. THAT is how it is significantly better than MythTV. I would have a MythTV backend that can stream to multiple Roku front ends. This would make me very happy.

Parser error... are you suggesting these won't sell like hotcakes as Myth front ends? I'll take three, thank you.

Re:MythTV? (1)

cmacb (547347) | about 6 years ago | (#25207289)

It runs on a fairly low-end box. I don't own one nor have I tried Myth TV so I can't compare.

But I've got three of the older Roku audio players and I suspect there is a lot of common code.

These never crash, hang, or act-up like PC devices often do (at least in my experience) and behave more like you would associate with an appliance.

Re:MythTV? (1)

stefanlasiewski (63134) | about 6 years ago | (#25208741)

If not, why don't they just sell a MythTV box?

The Roku Netflix player is a very different product. The Roku is not a DVR. Roku doesn't want to compete with the DVR market, which is dominated by a few large players.

My Roku box cost $100. The streaming videos are included with my regular NetFlix subscription ($15/month). It took me 5 minutes to set up the Roku for my encrypted wireless home network. The box is silent and simple to use. It takes about 1 minutes to start a new video.

These are all features which are hard to find on a MythTV box.

Limits (1)

CopaceticOpus (965603) | about 6 years ago | (#25206845)

The core Roku software will be open source, but applications such as the streaming service from Netflix will still have proprietary DRM code. You won't be able to build your own Roku equivalent box, or stream Netflix movies onto your Linux watch.

I believe the point of this is to make it easier for other video providers to work with the Roku player, which seems like a wise move for Roku.

Hopefully we'll move towards the point where any service (Netflix, Hulu, etc.) works with any box (Roku, PS3, Xbox, etc.) This would be easy to accomplish if not for the DRM monkey wrench.

Is there a way to get this on my Series3 TiVO? (1)

BigHungryJoe (737554) | about 6 years ago | (#25206877)

Is there a way to run anything other than tivo's software on my series 3 tivo? I'd like to give this a shot, because I'm tired of paying tivo monthly, and no way I'm buying the lifetime deal when I'm expecting tivo to go under any day now.

Also, is it possible to get cablecard decoders from Time Warner that don't cut out 10% of the time on certain channels?

Very strange target market: quality tradeoff (1)

compumike (454538) | about 6 years ago | (#25206883)

So, from reading the reviews, it sounds like the video quality isn't that great. To me, this indicates that it's something you'd want to watch on at most a PC-sized screen anyway. But yet this is exclusively a TV display device.

Still a cool device, and I suspect they'll now sell a bunch to the torrent-download crowd too. The big partnerships with the networks probably won't have been affected by the existence of an open source tree. So really I think they're doing it to win over the hacker crowd (and I mean that in a positive way).

--
Learn electronics! Microcontroller kits for the digital generation. [nerdkits.com]

Re:Very strange target market: quality tradeoff (1)

sacherjj (7595) | about 6 years ago | (#25207009)

If you have a fast internet connection, the level 4 (highest level) video is indistinguishable from a DVD. This is playing on a 32in 720p LCD. If they use the MPEG4 Roku is capable of, it will look even better than the WMV that Netflix requires.

Re:Very strange target market: quality tradeoff (1)

Billy Emu (62361) | about 6 years ago | (#25207099)

I own a Roku box. The video quality is just fine on my cable connection at about 4 Mb down. I have it connected to the closed circuit loop in my house so that it can be watched on any TV in the house. That requires using the analog RCA outs on the back of the device as opposed to the fancy digital outs that I hear are popular these days. I don't own any digital tvs, so it doesn't matter to me. The quality is better than "Medium" recordings on a series-1 TiVo and about the same as a DVD player on the same closed circuit loop. It's also about the same as a 1.4 GB DiVX movie as played via XBMC on the same loop.

I'm really happy with the Roku. I'm just waiting for them to team up with Hulu so that I have more TV to watch! I've gone through about half the TV offerings from Netflix that interest me in the last 3 months. I joined Netflix on the $9/month plan to buy the device and I'd say it's definitely worth it from a skinflint like me.

-Billy

Re:Very strange target market: quality tradeoff (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 years ago | (#25208859)

The people complaining about video quality MUST be comparing it to extremely high quality HD sources. Even over a 1.5 MB DSL connection, its fine. At higher rates, it's like a DVD. I have one and it just works, period.

AI (1)

Spatial (1235392) | about 6 years ago | (#25207053)

Roku, the streaming-media set-top box has decided

The AI is coming along fantastically, too.

Do this now for $80 Netflix, Hulu, ESPN and more.. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 years ago | (#25207149)

Original Xbox from Gamestop now just $50
Playon from themediamall.com $30

A little of your time to setup XBMC on the xbox and boom you get a great media center AND the ability to stream in Netflix and Hulu right off the bat.

Damn I sound like a commercial.

XBMC is also now available for Windows and Linux based PCs.

Also Playon works with any UPnP device such as the Xbox360 or PS3 so you may only need to pay $30 to get Hulu and Netflix on your TV right now.

I have a Roku (1)

TheModelEskimo (968202) | about 6 years ago | (#25207169)

It's a good little device. When friends bring their kids over (we don't have kids), I'll queue up some kids' videos on the Roku. When family come over, like to flip through the queue on our TV and spend a lot of time just commenting on what's in the queue, as if that's entertainment enough. :) One funny thing though...I'm not sure if Netflix just realized they have an african-american audience or what, but last night about 30 movies made for that demographic suddenly appeared in the "new additions" RSS feed. "The Hit," "Sinbad," "Kinky Killers," etc. it was sort of humorously frustrating to go through them, not seeing anything I'd watch, like dropping in on a video store on a whim and finding out it's run by former Black Panthers and staffed by members of the neighborhood chinese triad, when you're as white as Cool Whip.

Re:I have a Roku (1)

gladbach (527602) | about 6 years ago | (#25207603)

Yep, I agree that I love my roku. I have played it on both my 42in plasma (through component), and my 32in lcd through hdmi. The picture on both was perfect. No, it wasn't a blue ray, but who cares. Blue ray is pretty over rated short of block buster action flicks in my opinion. The 4 quality setting is great in my experience. I've even had friends make that comment, subsequently had them over, and had them walk away wondering what people were complaining about.

Re:I have a Roku (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 years ago | (#25207619)

One funny thing though...I'm not sure if Netflix just realized they have an african-american audience or what, but last night about 30 movies made for that demographic suddenly appeared

Your Roku thinks you're a nigger? You've got it easy - my TiVo thinks I'm a queer! [typepad.com]

Not Open Source (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 years ago | (#25207253)

I read TFA, but did't see any indication that Roku is going to open their software, or allow the Linux Hackers Of The World (tm) to run their code on their hardware. It sounds like all they're doing is looking for other video streaming sources beyond NetFlix.

I've heard this before somewhere... (1)

PRMan (959735) | about 6 years ago | (#25207363)

I'm not saying they won't get around to it this time, but on the Photobridge we were (unofficially?) promised that they would open source it, and they never did.

http://forums.roku.com/viewtopic.php?t=500 [roku.com]

Having been burned before, I'll believe it when I see it.

Tivo didn't change anything (1)

flyingfsck (986395) | about 6 years ago | (#25207585)

VCRs introduced time shifting and advert skipping a helluvalongtimeago already. Tivo may have made it a little more convenient, that's all.

Re:Tivo didn't change anything (1)

jedidiah (1196) | about 6 years ago | (#25208661)

...oranges and orangutans.

VCRs were legendary for being too user hostile to use.

Set a recording rule once and forget about it....

The machine will find shows as they move around, even
from channel to channel if necessary.

How is a VCR even remotely like that.

It's like trying to compare a VAX to a Jacqard loom.

Re:Tivo didn't change anything (1)

mattack2 (1165421) | about 6 years ago | (#25209379)

Set a recording rule once and forget about it....

That is a HUGE exaggeration. I am a very big fan of Tivo, and have several of them.

However, there are times when you can miss shows. Usually it's due to the networks changing the schedules within a day-ish of airtime. Tivos contact the service a bit less than once a day.

I check my To Do list very often (though less so now that I have more tuners and can manually put specific show on specific Tivos, e.g. some networks on one Tivo, some on another, to deal with conflicts.)

Unless there are FAR more tuners and/or cooperative scheduling (which I would pay a one time fee for, though I have lifetime service on my Tivos), for those of us who actually don't want to *miss* a show, it's really just an evolution, not a revolution. (Even then, last minute guide changes could affect things, but if I had about 2x the tuners I had, and could pad every show ~half hour on each end, then almost all conflicts would go away.)

Again, I say this a huge fan of Tivo and its UI.

Open Source? (4, Interesting)

Fnord666 (889225) | about 6 years ago | (#25207633)

I wouldn't get too excited just yet. I have not only read the linked article (which is a real dog's breakfast in both organization and apparently facts), but the articles that it links to and the ones that they link to. I didn't find anything that said Roku will be going open source. The nearest thing I can find is commentary with the word open in it that indicates that they are opening up the box to other content providers.

Roku, the maker of a set-top box used to stream online video on a traditional TV, will open its platform to any content provider over the next few months, says Roku CEO Anthony Wood, speaking at Streaming Media West. "We're opening up the platform to anyone who wants to put their video service on this box," says Wood. "We're going to release the software developer kit, so anyone can publish any channel, and users can access web content on their TVs."

Jennifer Guevin over at cnet has a decent article [cnet.com] that talks about where Roku is really going with this. Keep an eye on Roku's press releases [roku.com] for the real deal if and when it's announced.

Re:Open Source? (2, Interesting)

peterw (88369) | about 6 years ago | (#25207983)

That's my read, too. TFA doesn't say anything about even releasing source code, let alone using an OSI-approved open source license. All it promises is an SDK. You know, like the iPhone has.

In fact, one of the articles linked to from an article linked to by TFA suggests that Roku is considering charging for software upgrades that provide HD playback capabilities (http://techpulse360.com/2008/09/24/streaming-media-west-roku-to-open-netflix-player-with-sdk-shifting-to-new-name-soon/). I know that's a "Gratis" issue, not necessarily a "Libre" issue, but still, this doesn't look at all like Open Source.

SlimServer/SqueezeCenter competitor (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 years ago | (#25207815)

This is fantastic news. Hopefully they can make a decent competitor to Logitech's SqueezeCenter platform (also open source, multiplatform). It's fantastic for streaming across many different platforms, but is a bit clunky to use.

Re:SlimServer/SqueezeCenter competitor (1)

peterw (88369) | about 6 years ago | (#25208085)

This is fantastic news. Hopefully they can make a decent competitor to Logitech's SqueezeCenter platform (also open source, multiplatform). It's fantastic for streaming across many different platforms, but is a bit clunky to use.

Dream on. SqueezeCenter is server-side Free Software (and client-side free-as-in-beer-but-not-speech software [SqueezePlay]); Roku only has client-side software, and they're only TALKING about releasing a free-as-in-beer SDK. So they're talking about releasing a subset of the sort of client-side free-as-in-beer code that Logitech has had for a while, and none of the free-as-in-speech server code that Logitech has offered for even longer.

And that's before you consider things like stability (Roku boxes crashing every 500 hours?). Kudos to Roku's press office for scoring the misleading /. headline, but ain't nothin' to see here.

Video RSS Feeds :) (1)

ThomasMc1337 (1147055) | about 6 years ago | (#25207825)

If it does indeed go open source, I'd love to modify the source to make it able to subscribe to video RSS feeds such as Revision3 shows. That'd be fucking awesome.

Soundbridge, too? (1)

dousette (562546) | about 6 years ago | (#25208503)

Anyone know if this applies to the Soundbridge, too? I have an M2000 that I have to keep at an older firmware level because the 2.7 and newer will not play certain M4A files. There doesn't seem to be any rhyme or reason to which ones it will play and which ones it won't, but Roku never responded to my support inquiry on the subject. A fellow from the UK told me on the forum that it was a common problem, but nothing that Roku was interested in helping solve.

It wouldn't be so annoying except that it asks me every time I turn it on if I want to upgrade to the latest firmware. An open source solution to run on my Soundbridge would be great (if for nothing else than to disable the firmware update notification).

roku is amazing and cheap! (1)

myfigurefemale (1009667) | about 6 years ago | (#25208621)

do any of you actually HAVE rokus? because i have to say i love mine. i have the worst internet offered through earthlink ($30/mo) and a old 20 inch tv and the quality is perfect. it looks exactly like regular tv, except it's on demand and commercial free! cable costs over $100 a month in my neighborhood, so this is by far a cheaper and better option for me. if it had hulu added on, it would be even more worth it. but even with just the 12,000 titles netflix offers, i always have something to watch. it only cost a $100 plus the netflix membership - a big savings compared to cable.

I'll stick to XBMC (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 years ago | (#25208721)

Never heard of Roku, but in my experience, nothing can yet beat XBMC [xbmc.org] on either my old Xbox, or a low-spec HTPC.

Posting anonymously because the Myth mods will get me otherwise :-)

Re:I'll stick to XBMC (1)

gladbach (527602) | about 6 years ago | (#25209209)

Never heard of Roku, but in my experience, nothing can yet beat XBMC [xbmc.org] on either my old Xbox, or a low-spec HTPC. Posting anonymously because the Myth mods will get me otherwise :-)

I've looked at putting xbmc onto a small little pc. Does it have good remote control support?

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