updated 03:15 am EST, Thu January 8, 2004
Roku has introduced its network music players, which allows consumers to listen to digital music that's stored on their computers, in any room of their homes. The set-top device integrates into any home computer network--either through an optional Wi-Fi adapter or built-in Ethernet-- so that customers can listen to music, from their computers, on dedicated speakers or though any stereo system. It can access playlists from both Mac- and Windows-based computers, and supports streaming music in MP3, WMA, AAC, AIFF and WAV formats.
Roku SoundBridge has a bright vacuum florescent display (VFD) and a remote control, allowing users to browse and select music by artist, title, album, or genre from across the room. It works seamlessly with AAC, the audio file format used by iTunes 4 with support for iTunes music playback as well as parsing of native iTunes playlists. In addition, the device supports Rendezvous for convenient networking. Users can also control playback from a PC or the Internet via a Web interface. The device also has an optional CompactFlash slot for an optional WiFi card.
The SoundBridge M2000 has a larger 12" wide, high-resolution display (512x32), which "can be seen from across the room," according to the company's literature. The M1000 features a smaller 280x16 pixel display.
Roku SoundBridge M2000 will sell for $500 and Roku SoundBridge M1000 will be $250. It is expected to ship as early as February, according to the company. Pre-orders before March 1 will receive a 10 percent discount; it will be in consumer electronics stores nationwide beginning in March.