media players are actually quite easy to find with various designs being
offered by dozens of manufacturers. However, none of the players we have
seen offer the capabilities of the new Roku HD1000 Digital Media player.
Priced at $299, the HD1000 is certainly more expensive than most media
players, but one must consider the capabilities of this unit. No other
media player that we know of can produce the stunning still images and
high-definition (HD) real-time video like we have seen on the HD1000.
Now you can thoroughly impress your viewers with high resolution photographs
instead of those fuzzy looking ones shown over composite or s-video connections.
The design of the HD1000 started from the ground up with 2D and 3D HD
video processors, a real-time HD MPEG2 hardware decode engine that supports
all HD formats. There's 16MB of internal flash memory and 64MB of DDR
DRAM. The built-in real-time HD MPEG2 decompression processor supports
ATSC-compliant MPEG2 transport streams. What does this mean to the average
user? Probably not a whole lot, but if you happen to have an HD tuner
card in your PC like we do, you'll quickly be able to stream prerecorded
files to this media player in glorious high definition. The HD1000 supports
MP3, WAV and AIFF audio formats. More formats will most likely appear
in future firmware upgrades. The built-in screen saver will automatically
start if the screen doesn't change for a set amount of time. It will also
detect video on the pass-through input and will enable the screensaver
if no video change is detected (such as paused video).
of the HD1000 is solid and measures 17" wide, 9" deep and less
than 1.75" high with the feet. Although the chassis is small, it
does have to dissipate some heat generated from the powerful processing
going on inside the unit and with no fan, it would be wise to provide
adequate ventilation. We made the mistake of placing the HD1000 inside
a cabinet and soon found out that it was not a good idea as it got quite
front panel of the HD1000 accommodates a variety of memory cards including CompactFlash,
SD/MMC, Memory Stick/Memory Stick PRO, and SmartMedia. The OS automatically recognizes
any media that is inserted into the unit. The left side has a power button, but
the unit is really always active. The right side has Menu, Exit,
Navigation (4-position) and Select buttons. There are two LEDs on
the front for Power and Memory Card Activity.
The rear panel of the HD1000 has input connections for both component
and s-video as well as two channel audio. The intent of the inputs is
to provide a pass-through capability for components that need to share
resources, particularly the display. For example, an existing DVD player
can be connected to the HD1000 and be used to drive the inputs of a high
definition display while the HD1000 is off. If the viewing wished to use
the HD1000 he or she simply turns the unit on and the same display input
is now working with the HD1000. Both component and RGB outputs are provided
as well as a lower resolution s-video connection. For composite video,
the user needs to use the Y signal of the component outputs. A pair of
audio outputs are also provided as well as a coaxial digital output. The
USB port can be used to interface a wireless ethernet adapter. The wired
ethernet port has indicators for speed (10/100) and activity (ACT) near
the connector to monitor traffic. The detachable IEC power cord is a nice
added feature that allows the unit to be modular when installing it into
port is available for custom installers who need to completely control
the operation of the HD1000 using simple ASCII control commands. This
capability is also available over the ethernet interface, but we didn't
have a chance to try out either of these control functions.
The HD 1000 is easy to configure and the menu interface is well done.
The Setup menu has several submenus for Art Pack Settings, Bypass
Mode, General, Network Shares, Screen Saver,
Set Time, Video Format, Video Placement and Wireless.
Not all areas need to be configured for operation, but it is helpful to
look at the available options.
Format submenu has ten different screen modes with support for composite,
s-video, component and VGA interfaces. NTSC, 480i, 480p, 720p 1080i and
1024x768 resolutions are available. The Screen Placement controls
let the user position and size the image for a perfect fit. We connected
the HD1000 to an InFocus ScreenPlay 7205 DLP projector using the component
outputs. We also used it with a Mitsubishi LT-3020 high definition LCD
display. Our HTPC (Sony Vaio PCV-RZ22G) provided the media for music and
pictures as well as high definition content thanks to our MIT MDP-100
ATSC tuner and recorder. We networked the HTPC and the HD1000 using a
5-port SMC switch that was also connected to our main network.
purposes, we installed an AirLink USB WiFi adapter (Model WLL013) and
it worked great once we found out that the HD1000 does not like to be
rebooted after the installation process is complete. There are no drivers
to load for the USB adapter, so the process is simple. However, the user
must set up the SSID and password in the Wireless submenu screen.
Bandwidth was significantly less than our 100 Mb/s wired connection, so
we decided to use the 10/100 ethernet port to avoid any possible dropouts
with our streaming media tests.
other digital media player, the HD1000 will output MP3 music from the
digital output connection. We used this to listen to all of our music
files. The analog outputs worked well, but for simplicity we used the
remote that comes with the HD1000 is simple and functioned well for us.
We experienced no problems with the operation. Menu, Power
and Exit buttons are at the top with the navigation buttons just
below them. Three buttons placed in the center of the remote are used
to control Play/Pause and chapter skip (Forward and
Reverse). These work great with audio tracks, but there are a few
limitations that we ran into. When watching streaming video media, there
was no way for us to fast-forward or rewind the video clips. We could
skip chapters forward or backwards, but in most cases this was too coarse
a step with our media files (15-minutes per chapter). The last set of
buttons are for rotating an image and zooming in and out, which allows
the operator to choose a region of interest within the image and see more
detail. What's great about this feature is that the user can rotate pictures
that are not properly oriented with a simple button push. Unfortunately,
it only rotates clockwise, so you might have to push it three times to
get your picture oriented correctly. Finally, the Info button is used
to get information about the image being displayed (description, resolution,
etc.). Pronto remote users will be happy to hear that Roku provides the
needed CCF file to support this unit (See www.rokulabs.com/support/downloads/HD1000CCF.php).
of the Roku HD1000 is based on the Roku Operating System, which happens
to be an open platform that includes Rokus advanced media APIs and
a Linux Kernel. Unlike any other consumer product we've seen, the HD1000
opens the doors to developers who can design and create custom applications
for the unit. System resources include the display interface, network
link, memory card access, MP3, MPEG, windowing system, graphics library,
and other media engines. Roku even includes a Software Development Kit
(SDK) for users who want to start development of these applications right
away. The built-in networking capability is based on "Windows File
Sharing" or "SMB" which is the Windows file sharing protocol.
As a result, the user does not need to install any server software to
access all of the networked media such as photos, music, and MPEG2 Transport
The HD1000 Graphical User Interface (GUI) looks very nice and is easy
to navigate through. The user can access programs, display images and
listen to music with a few simple button pushes. Streaming video requires
launching the StreamPlayer application that is available from the Roku
website. As each memory card is plugged into the front panel of the HD1000,
an icon appears on the screen so that the user may look at the content.
If you plan to use the new XD format, a low-cost adapter will be needed.
The icons on the left of the screen show the memory resource (Built-in
memory, Memory Cards, Networked PCs, etc.) with the available content
to the right (music, photos or applications). For example, if you install
a Memory Stick and select it, the screen will show you what items
are available on the memory resource. The system will also scan the resource
for available files, especially in the case of a PC with a large hard
drive. In some cases this can take a considerable amount of time.
can be viewed from any of the memory card slots on the front of the unit
(CompactFlash, MMC, SD, Memory Stick and SmartMedia), as well as from
the network share. The image quality is just amazing with the HD1000 as
any photo with decent resolution looks far better than any other media
player we've see thus far. Users can insert their camera's memory card
and get an instant viewing of the contents without having to worry about
downloading them into a PC. The Rotate and Zoom functions
also come in very handy when viewing the pictures. Pressing the info button
reveals data about the picture.
Using our HTPC as a music server, we loaded some of our MP3 files into
a directory so that the HD1000 could access them. All of our files were
encoded at the higher 320k rate for maximum sound quality. As mentioned,
the HD1000 took some time to scan the entire disc for music content. Once
this was complete, the files were available on the user interface. The
subdirectories are also displayed for reference on the screen. The supported
audio formats are MP3, WAV and AIFF. We only tested out MP3 and WAV files
and never had any problems.
We had our file server set up to provide the HD1000 with both images as
well as high definition transport streams. Our HDTV tuner is a MIT MDP-100
that is capable of recording over-the-air high definition content. Roku
requires the 1.5 software release in order to play ATSC-compliant MPEG2
transport streams. We
currently have version 1.5.18 loaded onto our HD1000 so we were all set
to go. After all, what good is all this if you can't watch high definition
video as well. We were skeptical based on other reviews we read about
the unit's ability to stream high definition video. We started by downloading
StreamPlayer version 0.1d from the Roku Labs website. The zipped file
contains a PDF file that explains how to use the software and a file called
StreamPlayer.roku that needs to be loaded onto a memory card or
resource so that the HD1000 can run it. We used a CompactFlash card to
load the software for the test. Inserting the card into the HD1000 instantly
showed up on the user interface. Executing the program was easy and soon
we were asked to select a file. Since our network had a Sony Vaio running
a 100 Mb/s ethernet interface with a 2.4 GHz processor, we were set.
(PDF) file that included with the StreamPlayer program says that the maximum
file size for media files is 2 GB. However, our media files are partitioned
into 15 minute blocks that result in files approximately 4GB each. We
had no problems playing our files and the video never dropped out on us.
The picture was absolutely beautiful and no different than our HTPC video
quality. We also had the coaxial digital output connected to our Parasound
processor and everything worked fine. Some have complained about not being
able to stream video over the HD1000, but I can assure you that our set
up worked perfectly. These streams can be either standard-definition or
high-definition, and in many cases include Dolby Digital 5.1 audio.
There are a couple of utilities applications that we downloaded
from the Roku website that came in handy while using the HD1000 user interface.
A Copy application will allow the user to copy any file from one location
to another. For example, you might want to copy a commonly used file to the Built-in
memory from a PC on the network. Simply select the Set Source file and Set Destination
directory and then Start the transfer. There's also a Delete utility for
removing files on the HD1000.
The Roku HD1000 Gallery Collection includes an assortment of Art Packs
(Classics, Nature, Aquarium, Space, Holiday, and Clocks on one 256MB CompactFlash
and backup on CD-ROM). This package saves you $160 compared to buying
them separately. Optional Art Packs are available for both download ($39.99)
or physical shipments ($69.99). Downloadable versions include Aquarium
(30-second loop clip that looks like a real aquarium), Space (Images
from space) and Holidays. The physical shipment versions include
Classics, Nature, Aquarium (Full version includes
a 30-second loop and 3-minute clip on a 64MB CompactFlash card and CD-Rom),
The Roku HD1000 is a great product capable of producing high definition
still images and real-time video. We've seen no other product like this
and for a mere $299, the performance is a bargin. As user's begin to network
and integrate PCs into their home entertainment systems like we have,
the HD1000 will become a valuable resource for streaming high resolution
video and 5.1 audio.