Pros Compatible with nearly all music file extensions, allows multiple music servers (from several computers and/or multiple server software programs), intuitive menu system, configurable display
Cons Not 802.11 g compatible, small cable access ports, so-so tech manual, no realtime support
Summary This is an incredible digital music player that can handle any conceiveable set-up, music format, software server combination you could devise. It's sleek desgin and intuitive navigation make the M1000 a real audiophile's assest. Initial set-up had a decent learning curve, but nothing terribly technical beyond most's capabilities. If the manual was more complete and thorough, set-up would be completely painless, but it has some glaring deficiencies which make integrating the M1000 with a secured wireless netowrk more hassel than it has to be. If you had MAC address filtering enabled on your router make sure to add the M1000's MAC address to the wireless MAC table or else you will not be able to connect to the server. The MAC address is a bit difficult to find--under configuration, select Wi-Fi, then scroll all the way to the bottom and the IP, DNS, & MAC address are all listed. Be sure to also enter your 64 or 128 bit encryption key in the M1000 during the Wi-Fi configuration process. Note--using 128 bit HEX encryption will slow down the system, Also, using the M1000's 802.11b wireless connection on a 802.11g network will decrease the entire network speed to 11 Mbps. Lastly, the manual also does not state using windows XP with SVPK2, if the windows Firewall is enabled, you have to add firewall port excpetions (3 or 4) under the security center set-up in control panel or you will get system disconnect after a few seconds of music play.
The only other gripe is the manual doesn't really mention how to interface with the remote music server software aside form recommending Windows Media Connect--which is fine if you want to do everything directly from the M1000 using the remote. However, if you want to access music, create playlists, play, sort etc from say a laptop somewhere in the house (not sitting in front of the M1000) then you're going to have to download the freeware version of Slimserver music software (not sure which version) from the makers of Squeezebox to remotely command the M1000.
Bottom line---THe system plays all music files, is compatible with various music servers, stores 10 preset internet radio stations (can accomodate more too) that can play endless music w/o a computer even on, & can be access several music collections on any machine on your network. The display is great, menus a breeze to use, but the manual sucks and the tech support is e-mail only. Good Luck---AMD.
Pros Internet Radio & Rhapsody Radio compatibility
Cons Almost a '10' - All operations via Remote – somewhat confusing interface
Summary Simply one of the most impressive pieces of technology push I have ever encountered. It might just turn your PC into a very expensive jukebox, but hey, if music is important in your life, the Roku SoundBridge's affordable price, sleek design, functional firmware, and ease of operation should turn the SoundBridge (SB) into a must-have piece of technology pull for every music lover. Yes, the SB works with my music files and playlists in Windows Media Player, but the real bonus is it flawless integration with My Stations in the free Comcast Rhapsody Radio and the Internet Radio (18 presets in software Ver. 2.5). Real big plus is that my router and Internet connection is always on; therefore, the PC does not need to be on to access any of the Internet Radio Presets. Briefly -- I am simply impressed and thrilled at the versatility of the SB -- better sound through my main stereo and I can even listen to my outside speakers by the pool. [grin]
CONNECTIONS -- What could be easier? However, I was somewhat confused by the documentation. That is, the "newer" SB M1001 already has the Wi-Fi card installed -- it took a while to realize the end cap did not need to be removed to install the Wi-Fi card.
Note: Prior to purchase, I contacted Crutchfield's excellent Tech Support and found out in a chat session that my aging Sony receiver had a MD/DAT optical input that could be used. That is, I wanted to verify my receiver had an input for the SB. I had a spare optical cable that I used.
SETUP -- Somewhat confusing -- I needed to call Linksys (not because of SB but because the network stopped working) and needed to change channels and setup a WEP secure network. The subsequent confusion was determining what type of password I had; finding the HEX password key; then fumbling around the SB network setup figuring out how to enter the Key correctly. [Note: my sons said they did not muck with the SB during my vacation; but, I discovered I lost my music server (Windows Media Connect) connection and had to reenter my WEP password.]
CONFIGURATION -- My stereo system is in the same room as the PC. However, I cannot see the stereo from the PC and I use a Linksys WRT54G Broadband Router to network other PCs and the SB.
OPERATION -- I encountered a couple of days of problems and delays waiting for Roku Tech Support feedback via e-mail that was associated with changing the Internet Radio Presets on the M1001 using software Version 2.4.4. I STRONGLY suggest that everyone go to the Roku Forums and download the Ver. 2.5 Beta; link -- http://rokulabs.com/forums/viewtopic.php?t=7363 -- It has several bug fixes and expanded capabilities. NOTE: The Ver. 2.5 Beta is NOT presently available by using the "standard" "built-in" software update function. P.S. Don't forget to download the Ver. 2.5 User Manual [38 page pdf] also linked from the above Forum.
"Individual results may vary". I am retired and teach some online college courses and spend most the normal working hours in front of the PC where I cannot see the SB nor operate its remote. Therefore, I created a shortcut to the SB Now Playing Web Page (http://192.168.1.109/SoundBridge.html) and keep it open so I have access to the basic remote operations (e.g., pause) and I can see what's playing on Rhapsody Radio or the Internet Radio Stations for example. You can also play any of the Presets from the Web Page. That is, open My Documents, go to My Network Places, and click on SoundBridge under Local Network. This procedure also opens up many avenues to access Internet Radio settings, User Guides, FAQs, and so on.
Enjoy -- I know I am. Happy Trails, Duane
Pros Easy setup, great interface with iTunes and Rhapsody
Cons Finicky WiFi router requirments, won't play protected songs purchased through iTunes.
Summary This is the greatest thing i've ever done for my stereo. Although I was disappointed at first when I had difficulty getting the SoundBridge to work reliably with my original LinkSys wireless "b" router, after corresponding with the helpful folks at Roku, I upgraded my router to a LinkSys WRT54GS, and everything now works perfectly.
I used to listen to my 2,000+ song iTunes collection through a PC speaker / sub woofer, which was good, not great. With the SoundBridge, I have this cool looking tuner thing that sits with my other stereo components, and I can scan through and listen to all of my songs through my stereo, and it sounds GREAT. And that's not all...
With Rhapsody music server, I can create my own radio stations by selecting up to 10 artists I like, press go on the Soundbridge, and songs from those artists stream away. I don't have to own the CDs or songs - it just plays all day, without interruption. I can create a jazz channel, a rock channel, anything that suits the mood.
And based on the 10 artists I select, the Rhapsody service plays other songs I might like. If I like what I hear, I look at the soundbridge display and make note of who I'm listening to. If I don't like a track, no problem: Hit fast forward on the remote and it skips to the next song! This is the best way in the world to get exposed to new music / new artists.
I love it.
"A mixed bag"on by CoryH1
Pros Smooth configuration, great interface
Cons Can't control from your pc, not impressed with audio quality
Summary I bought the Roku SoundBridge after failed attempts to configure a Linksys Music Bridge (I also reviewed that product and gave it a "1"). The set up and configuration for the SoundBridge was fairly straightforward - especially considering my bad experience with the Linksys Music Bridge. I had to download Windows Media Connect and set firewall permissions - all clearly explained in the manual. I thought the menu system on the Sound Bridge was well thought out. This would be a good piece of equipment if all you wanted to do was control your listening experience through the SoundBridge interface (using the included remote control). Alas, I thought the product would also allow full control from my computer; that it would play whatever was playing on WM player or itunes in real time - it cannot. Now I expect that I could have pointed the SoundBridge to a playlist on my computer, and updated the playlist while the SoundBridge was playing to exert limited control from my laptop, but I want full control. There are some third party programs available for download that allow some control from your computer, but I wasn't satisfied with what I saw. The best of them appears to be "iBridge", for use (as the name implies) with iTunes.
On another note, I wasn't happy with the sound quality. It was very flat - low volume (compared to playing a CD), no life, poor bass. Admittedly, this could be a limitation of my older stereo equipment, but my stereo plays CDs with very good quality. I have remote FM speakers attached to the stereo, and the quality on those is far superior to what I was getting on the stereo speakers through the SoundBridge. I think I'll just hook up the FM transmitter directly to the laptop and call it a day.
Overall, I think this is a good product for people you don't care about controlling it from your computer. It wasn't for me though - I took it back. I'm going to wait for new products with greater functionality at similar prices.
Pros Easy set-up, great sound, looks great, just what you need - no more, no less
Cons Remote seems a little cheap
Summary I wanted something that would let me play Yahoo Music (i.e., the Digital Rights Management WMA files). Neither Yahoo nor Roku mention each other on their web sites, so I had my fingers crossed. I downloaded Windows Media Connect as the server. I followed the very easy instructions and it worked the first time. That never happens... The unit is very well thought-out. WiFi and Ethernet connections and RCA, digital coax, and optical connectors give you maximum flexibility in connecting to both your home network and your stereo.
The only thing not included is the coax or optical connector -- which you shouldn't expect anyway but might be easy to forget when you buy the unit.
I looked at other options but didn't want anything controlled through the TV. The display on the 1000 is a little small and might require actually getting off the couch to see clearly but frankly I don't want a big display screaming out from my stereo components anyway.
It is exactly what I needed -- just an easy way to play all the music I can download from Yahoo Music. I didn't want to display pictures on the TV or control a bunch of components. I took advantage of a $50 rebate that ends on 6/30/05. After that the price is the full $250. That seems a bit steep given the competition, but hopefully it will come down.
The controller has kind of a cheap feel, and of course it is one more controller to lose around the house. Next step will be to consolidate my controllers...