Here’s a spot of good news for multimedia enthusiasts: What Roku’s HD-XR streaming media server ($129.99) does, it does exceedingly well. Specifically, the device delivers a wealth of high-definition content, where available, from a variety of Internet sources (including Netflix) straight to your HDTV. And the sources from which this content flows are growing; Roku’s Channel Store currently lists 13 channels, but the company is actively pursuing additional content partners. The problem here, however, is what the gizmo doesn’t do – namely, supply a bridge from content already on your home PC (at least not yet). Plus, a growing number of HDTVs and Blu-ray players offer similar capabilities sans an extra set-top box.
Features and Design
Like many streaming media bridges and extenders, the Roku HD-XR is a boring black box, about the size of a thick paperback book. On the rear is a complete analog/digital jack pack – HDMI, composite video, component video, S-Video and optical audio jacks for TV and AVR connectivity are all included, as is an Ethernet jack for network connectivity. The HD-XR includes built-in WiFi (b, g and n) support.
Also on the HD-XR’s rear is a lone USB jack. Theoretically, this is for connecting a local hard disk or flash thumb drive. Roku told us, “clearly we have it there for future use,” but its current lack of functionality at present gives us pause.
In addition to Netflix, the Roku Channel Store currently includes apps for Amazon On Demand, Major League Baseball’s MLB.com Premium, Pandora, Facebook Photos, Revision3, Mediafly, TwiT.tv, blip.tv, Flickr, FrameChannel, Motionbox and MobileTribe.