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Roku Now Licensing Its Media Player Design

timothy posted more than 3 years ago | from the what-about-open-source-maaaaan dept.

Movies 53

DeviceGuru writes "Roku has begun licensing its A/V media streaming set-top-box hardware and software technology to third-party device makers. Netgear, Roku's first licensee, will soon offer a Netgear-branded version of the recently size- and cost-reduced Roku XDS box through Best Buy, Fry's, and Radio Shack stores. Although Roku's licensing move follows closely on the heels Google's October rollout of the Google TV platform, the $60 to $100 Roku XD player design's low-cost, low-power, compact design, and sheer ease-of-use make it a compelling alternative to Google TV, assuming Google's platform results in prices like Logitech's $300 Revue. As a small example, the Roku player most likely uses an inexpensive, power-stingy MIPS-based NXP processor in contrast to the Revue's more power-thirsty, expensive, and spacious Atom processor."

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53 comments

Frothy Piss (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34146512)

Frosty Piss, Bitches!

The content is all shitty. (0, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34146588)

What's the point in buying these devices if the content you can watch on them is all utter crap out of New York or LA, or worse, some horrid anime tripe out of Japan or Korea?

I used to watch a lot of TV, but the shows got so fucking stupid that I had to stop watching. It's so much better to go down to the local jazz bar to hear some live music, or to go to the theater and watch a live play. I suppose a benefit of this is that you're helping support real people in your community, rather than some cockdangling actor or TV executive.

Re:The content is all shitty. (1, Insightful)

WarJolt (990309) | more than 3 years ago | (#34146600)

You could always rent a foreign film from amazon on demand.

Re:The content is all shitty. (-1, Troll)

Lord Byron II (671689) | more than 3 years ago | (#34146646)

Please don't feed the trolls. Thank you.

Re:The content is all shitty. (1)

aliquis (678370) | more than 3 years ago | (#34146846)

I'm foreign (to you) and all our films suck way beyond anything American.

British and German TV may be OK, don't know, got some German news in the morning (DW, no BCC or CNN.)

Top Gear, Scrapheap challenge, (Married with children, How I meet your mother) are all nice.

As far as TV shows goes I suppose the national ones may be very good, especially comedies, but maybe because that's because those are the ones I like to see.

Anyway, low budget, low ideas, low standard, government subsidized socialist movies aren't the best either ..

Anyway, if he don't like it don't watch it. Very easy to avoid :)

Re:The content is all shitty. (1)

hedwards (940851) | more than 3 years ago | (#34147316)

It's the size of the industry that dictates that. We produce more crap than pretty much everybody except India combined. It's just that we also produce more gems and the crap tends to be forgotten fairly quickly. Unfortunately the same doesn't work with music as we're still stuck with Bieber.

On a side note, he's Canadian, can't we just revoke his papers for being a public nuisance and send him back anywhere other than here?

Re:The content is all shitty. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34148228)

no... we dont want him back, eh ?

Content NOT all shitty (3, Informative)

fyngyrz (762201) | more than 3 years ago | (#34148238)

We've got a Roku XDS, and we didn't buy it to watch garden-variety television. It does Internet radio, a large variety of channels, also Pandora, and that alone might get it a place in my media cabinet, but that's not all by any means. There's NASA TV and SpaceVidCast, news sources, iTunes access, flickr, Khan academy (math, science, economics)... all that and I've barely scratched the surface of the non-TV content.

As for "gems", Netflix seems to be ahead on that score. They've really got a decent variety of movies, and they're starting to pick up some of the edgy cable shows like Weeds, too. The Netflix capability of the Roku is excellent.

It's also worth mentioning (especially here on Slashdot) that the Roku's "channel" mechanism is implemented by an open-source kit; anyone can create a channel, and any content that isn't outright illegal is good to go. For example, they've got a porn channel, fairly basic - there's a BDSM component, a gay component, and a hetero component; doesn't show up on the site (these are called "hidden" channels) but getting to it is no problem when you find the offer for the channel (it's called EVTV, that's enough to track it down.)

The fact that there's a lot of crap out there in no way says that you have to watch (or listen) to it. On the other hand, if you're a connoisseur of crap, well, there's no shortage, that's for certain. :)

The XDS has some problems yet, notably a really lame and broken wifi setup (you're MUCH better off to set it up as wired ethernet until they fix that) and a few annoying bugs like the radio app being unable to "favorite" a station that's been found by search, but these are pretty minor compared to the latest AppleTV's inability to support many DVI connections, component systems, or work in anything other than HDMI/720p.

As a user of both, the Roku is the *far* better unit. Hugely better connectivity (component and composite, analog audio, none of which are available on the Apple unit, also properly supports DVI, again, not available from Apple), better compatibility (any HD mode up to 1080p plus SD, the Apple only does 720p), standard USB connection for your media files up front and handy (the AppleTV's USB connection is in the rear and doesn't appear to be supported except for upgrading), the Ethernet connection is better, sporting connect and speed LEDs, even a better remote (Apple's is typically minimalist, and consequently, as usual, functionally retarded. You end up navigating a lot more than with the Roku, for instance.) Both support wifi, ethernet, physical HDMI and TosLink optical audio. the Roku is also far ahead in content at present. Considering they're both the same price, as far as I'm concerned it's a slam-dunk in favor of the Roku XDS,

I have no relationship with either company other than as a customer.

Re:Content NOT all shitty (1)

Phoghat (1288088) | more than 3 years ago | (#34153176)

I bought the ROKU when it first became available, mainly for its Netflix capability. I also used it for Pandora, which was a pleasant surprise. Lately, ROKU has added a metric shit ton of content, and it seems to be growing constantly. I have looked at products like Google TV, Apple, and Boxee and none of the seems to come close to the ROKU in terms of content and ease of use.

At first I had the ROKU in my bedroom, using wireless WIFI, and it worked well enough. Since then I moved it to my living room and hooked up via ethernet and that's also good.

I will not give up my ROKU until they pry it from my cold dead hand

PS-What's with the CW? The only place "Supernatural" is available is on iTunes. No HULU or even HULU Plus

Re:The content is all shitty. (1)

nxtw (866177) | more than 3 years ago | (#34146930)

You could always rent a foreign film from amazon on demand.

Why? Do you think non-American films are overall better than American ones?

They have a bunch of bad movies too; those ones don't get international attention. So the "foreign films" that get marketed and played in the United States are much better on average than the average American film.

Re:The content is all shitty. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34149426)

Well yes, but you are looking at from the wrong angle.

Suppose the US produces 100 films a year and the rest of the world 1,000. And suppose everyone produces 90% crap. That means once a US resident has watched the 10 good home movies, they still have 100 good foreign ones to view.

Re:The content is all shitty. (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34146770)

We watch them so we don't get superiority complexes like SOME people do.

That is all.

Go away, you're not 21 (2, Insightful)

tepples (727027) | more than 3 years ago | (#34147444)

It's so much better to go down to the local jazz bar to hear some live music

Children and college underclassmen aren't allowed into the establishment due to alcohol control statutes. What do you suggest for them?

or to go to the theater and watch a live play.

Ordinarily, these live plays don't end until the city buses have stopped running for the night, and a cab ride home is cost prohibitive.

Wise up (2)

WarJolt (990309) | more than 3 years ago | (#34146590)

Great....maybe netgear will wise up and put a toslink connector on the back of it so some of us can still use our old avr systems. Stereo doesn't cut it.

Re:Wise up (4, Informative)

Lord Byron II (671689) | more than 3 years ago | (#34146610)

HDMI can carry 8 channels of audio and considering that's the direction everyone is heading, I doubt you'll see your fiber optic connection.

But more to the point, most of Netflix's selection is only in stereo. If you're serious about quality, you should be renting Blu-rays and not streaming.

Re:Wise up (1)

aliquis (678370) | more than 3 years ago | (#34146882)

If you're serious about quality, you should be renting the actual film from the studio!

FTFY.

Being a cinematophile will be so much more expensive than a vinyl head :D

Re:Wise up (4, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34147436)

Take a look at the HDFury3. You get hdmi in and component/digital audio out. If also handles the hdcp.

Re:Wise up (1)

antdude (79039) | more than 3 years ago | (#34149166)

Or download. :)

Re:Wise up (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34146640)

Not going to happen, toslink is effectively dead, you'd better start saving for new amp/receiver, or converter box.

Wrong. (1)

fyngyrz (762201) | more than 3 years ago | (#34148258)

toslink is effectively dead

Both AppleTv and the Roku XDS include TosLink optical audio; works great on both - I own both and use the TosLink audio connections for audio.

Re:Wise up (1)

TheRaven64 (641858) | more than 3 years ago | (#34146710)

It seems that there aren't many people who care about analogue audio anymore either. I recently replaced my DVD player, because the drive had worn out. I wanted to replace it with a similar machine, but there don't seem to be any new ones made that can output DTS audio to 6 analogue channels. Few had DTS decoders built in and none that I found had 6-channel analogue output. It was either digital or analogue stereo.

In the end, I bought a second-hand one. I looked at getting an external DTS / DD decoder (most cheap players can pass the DTS data straight through the digital output), but the cheapest one that I found was three times what I ended up playing for the DVD player.

Re:Wise up (1)

aliquis (678370) | more than 3 years ago | (#34146896)

What's your point?

Your amplifier can't decode DTS? Or is it stereo? If it's stereo I don't see why the number of channels matters. If it's not stereo I wonder why it doesn't decode DTS itself. Is it some ProLogic equipment? Expensive (but old) gear?

Personally I wouldn't buy a DVD player today in the first place, but regardless I'd rather have my decoders in the receiver (if it's not the very last ones I don't know if it matters that much, don't know how big noticeable gain there is of using any of the newer ones (if the movies at least also supply some backwards compatible or old format.))

Re:Wise up (1)

TheRaven64 (641858) | more than 3 years ago | (#34147188)

My amplifier is analogue. It takes six analogue inputs. It is just an amplifier, not a digital decoder. The decoder in my old player was built into the DVD player. This made sense at the time, because new audio encoding standards were likely to appear, but not on older media. Newer formats will often have 5.1 channel AAC audio, for example, and having the decoder built into the amplifier would mean that this couldn't be played. It also made sense from a synchronisation perspective - outputting digital audio requires you to delay the video slightly to avoid skew from the audio decoding time. This is why HDMI puts both audio and video in the same channel and makes something else decode them both; so that the timestamps can be synchronised after decoding.

The amplifier and speakers still work fine - you feed them electrical signals and they produce audio. I have absolutely no desire to replace them, and replacing them with something equivalent with digital input would probably be quite expensive.

All of the newer equipment wants to use either S/PDIF or HDMI to output more than two channels. With HDMI it makes sense, because you need the audio and video decoding to happen in the same place (although decoding the DTS to PCM or similar before pushing it through the HDMI would simplify life for the audio decoder). With SCART, composite, or s-video, it does not.

My point is that upgrading one piece of the stack - the player - requires either replacing the amplifier, adding a separate (very expensive) decoder box, or replacing the display and speakers. The end result? I bought an older second-hand player and the hardware manufacturers didn't get any money from me this time.

Re:Wise up (1)

aliquis (678370) | more than 3 years ago | (#34148214)

But if it was all the new formats, would it be possible to solve your issue by using a software player? As in a PC with sound card (with multiple analogue outputs in that case.)

Or are there no such software?

Does any blu-ray players offer all the decoding on board?

No cheap home cinema receivers offer line-outs on all channels I assume?

Suck that a standalone decoder / DA converters will have to cost much more than a integrated device with more functionality.

Maybe you should start making them yourself and sell them to other audiophiles (if you use high-end DA converters at least.)

analog is all good, though (1)

fyngyrz (762201) | more than 3 years ago | (#34148278)

Roku XDS has analog audio outputs, they work just fine with gear from 1960's Marantz tube classics to whatever else you have. Classic gear owners haven't been completely forgotten. :)

Re:analog is all good, though (1)

TheRaven64 (641858) | more than 3 years ago | (#34149264)

Did you actually read my post? The XDS has analogue stereo output, but only digital 5.1 output - exactly the same combination as new DVD players. If I wanted to connect one to my speakers, then I'd need another decoder box, which costs more than the XDS itself.

5.1 optical toslink to analog 5.1 (1)

fyngyrz (762201) | more than 3 years ago | (#34149412)

Sorry, missed the 5.1 thing.

Seems easily dealt with, though. Go to ebay, buy a cheap older receiver (pre-HDMI) that has outputs to drive external amps, and at least one optical audio input with decode support. That'd be most of them from a several year span. Like this one. [ebay.com] It's cheap as I write this, but if it doesn't end that way, there's always something on there. Both my Sony and my Denon have analog outputs that can output the decode from the toslink optical inputs.

Even a parts unit would likely work - amps are usually what fail.

Plug in your optical source, set the old receiver to that, set the decoding to 5.1, take the analog signal from the amp outputs, and your problem is solved, no?

Re:5.1 optical toslink to analog 5.1 (1)

TheRaven64 (641858) | more than 3 years ago | (#34150710)

Three days left, and it's already going for more than I paid for my DVD player. If it's anything like the ones I looked at, it will end up 3-4 times that by the time it actually sells, making it at least the same price as the XDS (oh, and it's in the wrong country for me).

Re:5.1 optical toslink to analog 5.1 (1)

fyngyrz (762201) | more than 3 years ago | (#34151782)

It was just an example. It's still just $38 as I write this. Your complaint was decoders were as expensive as the XDS. I'm pointing out that EBay (or a good will shop, or a dumpster, or your brother's uncle's sister's aunt) can get you a (very good!) decoder for less from the zillions of used stereos that are out there. It's your job to find one that is in your country and in your price range. I can't do *everything* for you. Isn't it enough that I pointed out that your problem can be solved? Now get to work and solve the problem. :)

Re:5.1 optical toslink to analog 5.1 (1)

TheRaven64 (641858) | more than 3 years ago | (#34153324)

If you'd read my original post, you'd see that looking for an external decoder box was one of the first things I did. And, yes, I did look on eBay. The cheapest one I found went for over £75, which was three times what I paid for the DVD player. Putting the electronics in the device would cost almost nothing. They're already decoding the streams, they just need a couple of extra DACs and some more traces on the board and sockets in the case. Buying an external device costs a lot more. The result? I'm not buying any of the current generation of home cinema stuff.

Get the Roku XD|S (4, Informative)

pavon (30274) | more than 3 years ago | (#34147210)

The XD|S model has optical audio, as well as component video for those of us that bought high quality systems before HDMI was widely available. Unfortunately there aren't enough of us around to justify putting those on the base model where saving cost is high priority, so we have to fork out for the high-end model.

Re:Get the Roku XD|S (1)

fyngyrz (762201) | more than 3 years ago | (#34148306)

Yeah... but "forking out for the high-end model" is a majestic $99 -- exactly the same as the AppleTV, which is barely compatible with anything, doesn't do component video or analog audio, can't support a DVI connection properly, doesn't do SD (and so has no composite connection either)... It seems to me that if you're committing to a device that's going to entertain you for years, the difference between $60 (low end Roku) and $99 (XDS, the model with everything) should direct everyone right to the XDS. It's a $30 one-time cost difference that is justified by tons of long-term payback. Maybe I'm crazy, but to me, that seems affordable to almost anyone.

Re:Wise up (1)

Labarna (945915) | more than 3 years ago | (#34149068)

I bought the Roku XD|S because it has a toslink connector on the back.

Re:Wise up (1)

Ant P. (974313) | more than 3 years ago | (#34156652)

Knowing Netgear, it'll probably have composite and S-Video out, and locked-down firmware.

Question about roku (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34146748)

For those of you that have one... Can you rewind/ffwd through movies that you rent from Amazon MarketPlace (AMP)? I rented an AMP movie via my pc and streamed through my xbox, and it wouldn't let us rewind or fast forward. I wasn't sure if this was an AMP feature or just because we downloaded the file.

Re:Question about roku (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34146924)

Yes you can indeedy.

Re:Question about roku (1)

wbean (222522) | more than 3 years ago | (#34147474)

Yes you can rewind and fast forward. There's a progress bat to show you where you are but the image doesn't change. That makes it harder to find a particular spot. There's also a delay after a ffwd/rewind operation while it buffers the appropriate part of the file. That said, I love the Roku.

A couple of annoyances (0)

Ichijo (607641) | more than 3 years ago | (#34146756)

Compared to a DVD remote, the Roku's is missing next and previous chapter buttons. When I'm watching a show, I like to jump past the opening credits, thank you.

And why are they still using an old-fashioned AC adapter? They ought to power the box through industry standard USB or PoE.

Re:A couple of annoyances (4, Informative)

nxtw (866177) | more than 3 years ago | (#34146862)

And why are they still using an old-fashioned AC adapter? They ought to power the box through industry standard USB or PoE.

Standard USB doesn't provide enough power for a device like this, especially if the device itself is a USB host. And Power over Ethernet is not a standard for consumer electronics.

Re:A couple of annoyances (1)

Ichijo (607641) | more than 3 years ago | (#34146938)

Standard USB doesn't provide enough power for a device like this, especially if the device itself is a USB host.

Standard USB allows for up to 1A. My Roku uses about 3W, which at 5V is 600 mA. That still leaves the Roku box with 400 mA (4 unit loads) left over to send through its own USB port.

Re:A couple of annoyances (2, Informative)

nxtw (866177) | more than 3 years ago | (#34146970)

from Wikipedia [wikipedia.org] :

A unit load is defined as 100 mA in USB 2.0, and was raised to 150 mA in USB 3.0. A maximum of 5 unit loads (500 mA) can be drawn from a port in USB 2.0, which was raised to 6 (900 mA) in USB 3.0.

Devices like media players should provide the full 500 mA for each port, ideally with two ports, so they will work with bus-powered USB 2.5" hard drives.

Re:A couple of annoyances (1)

Ichijo (607641) | more than 3 years ago | (#34147058)

Devices like media players should provide the full 500 mA for each port, ideally with two ports, so they will work with bus-powered USB 2.5" hard drives.

from Wikipedia [wikipedia.org] :

A portable device can draw up to 1.8 A from a Dedicated Charging Port.

So if the Roku is given 1.8 A and uses 600 mA for itself and powers two USB ports at 500 mA each, that still leaves 200 mA left over.

Which device has a Dedicated Charging Port? (4, Insightful)

tepples (727027) | more than 3 years ago | (#34147494)

from Wikipedia [wikipedia.org] :

A portable device can draw up to 1.8 A from a Dedicated Charging Port.

In order not to have to ship an AC adapter, the manufacturer would have to be certain that a nearby device has a Dedicated Charging Port. Which device might this be?

Re:Which device has a Dedicated Charging Port? (1)

Ichijo (607641) | more than 3 years ago | (#34147590)

In order not to have to ship an AC adapter, the manufacturer would have to be certain that a nearby device has a Dedicated Charging Port. Which device might this be?

One example is a 5V 2.0A USB iPad charger [apple.com] .

Re:A couple of annoyances (1)

Ichijo (607641) | more than 3 years ago | (#34147076)

Standard USB allows for up to 1A.

Correction: 1.8 A [wikipedia.org] .

Re:A couple of annoyances (1)

Paralizer (792155) | more than 3 years ago | (#34146870)

I don't have a USB or ethernet port on my TV. It would be a nice option but AC is still necessary for many of us old-fashioned people.

Re:A couple of annoyances (1)

hedwards (940851) | more than 3 years ago | (#34147340)

My HD TV does, but it's not really meant to be used. Basically it's just there for servicing the unit, and I have no idea what they actually do with it.

Re:A couple of annoyances (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34148062)

My TV has a USB port, and you can play media file on a USB drive with it.

Moving Roku ahead by scene (1)

yelvington (8169) | more than 3 years ago | (#34149158)

Compared to a DVD remote, the Roku's is missing next and previous chapter buttons. When I'm watching a show, I like to jump past the opening credits, thank you.

It works differently with Netflix than you do with YouTube or Archive.org.

On the Netflix display, if you hit the Pause button, then the Fast Forward button, it'll fan out a series of still images representing scene changes.

I don't get any of that on the free channels. I have not yet tried Amazon. We're busy gorging on the all-you-can-eat Netflix.

I do not know if this is related to a different player, different encoding in the data stream, or both.

(I didn't know about this until my wife showed me. She's the one who tortures the remote until it reveals its secrets.)

Not Google (1)

fermion (181285) | more than 3 years ago | (#34147388)

Apple TV is $99. Although in many ways inferior to other devices, I can't imagine any mass market device going above the $99 price point, as is the case with Roku. Maybe if it came with a hard disk it might be $200. Given what Android phones costs, Verizon can only match Apple prices on Adroid phones with a sleazy rebate, I doubt google devices are going to be competitive on price.

The implication Roku licensing is certainly the inclusion of a media player built into the TV. I can imagine that this would be a big selling point. No external cable box, no external DVD player, just broadcast and streaming on demand.

NetGear Box (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34147544)

We already have this device in our store and it only runs for $89 bucks. Comes with remote and everything. Says it has built in wireless too.

If Intel built condos? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34147606)

As a small example, the Roku player most likely uses an inexpensive, power-stingy MIPS-based NXP processor in contrast to the Revue's more power-thirsty, expensive, and spacious Atom processor."

Spacious? So when can I move in?

Great, where's the ogg, flac codecs? (1)

djfake (977121) | more than 3 years ago | (#34153266)

The Roku could be an absolute Squeezebox slayer if the thing would only offer playback of more audio formats. As it stands, MainSqueeze channel is available to connect with a Squeezebox Server, but unfortunately ogg, flac, etc are not playable on the Roku. And transcoding doesn't work either. WHAT A HEARTBREAKER! Think about it, the Squeezebox starts at $299....
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