Ok, Well I'll be the one to bite.
The photobridge does what it says it will do. It plays audio files, and views images. It does not say it will play ripped DVDs. But.. thanks to great 3rd party developers it does more than advertised. Audio skips using mplay? Are you using a swap file, and the maxbuffer tag? Are you crazy enough to try this over wireless or have a wired connection to your computer. If wired are you using a switch or a hub. It takes some work and research on your own to get things the way you want; if you want to use the box for more than it was created. It will work, just don't expect Roku to offer support for third party creations.
Uh, not exactly
Roku claims, and I quote "Hi def photos, video, music, art and more"
On their features page, they state:
HDTV Ready (Supports a broad range of connectors...)
and on and on and on.
Truth is, Digital photos work well.
Everything else is either non-existent, doesn't work at all, or is flakey when it works. Digital Video playing MPEG file screws up aspect ratios, skips audio, and when I installed the latest Mplay, there is now NO audio, Digital Music I've never been able to make work, the networking is flakey, apparantly the DHCP is unreliable, and that vaunted "broad range of connectors" neglects to mention the very real restrictions on how those connectors can be used. Unused inputs cannot even have a connection to them or it screws up the signal.
I too am an engineer, and a networking professional. I have 100BT hardwired thruout the house, with dedicated high speed connections to my servers. I can RTFM and dig into the geekified internals, edit script files and in general grok linux boxen. I've hacked my Tivo so far that the mfg wouldn't recognize it. But we are talking about something sold as a FINISHED PRODUCT. Tivo works out of the box, as advertised. The additional functionality I have obtained by hacking it was gladly undertaken at my own risk, and entirely optional. Anyone can happily use a Tivo as the manufacturer intended without ever seeing a bash prompt. This is simply not true for the Roku. Except for the ability to stick my camera media in the front slot and see my photos, it's a paperweight, and over a year of effort by the developers to release the latest 2.0.35 beta have not materially changed it.
If I want a hackers toy, I will build a linux PC and put myth on it. If I pay full retail price for a video appliance for my media room, I do not expect to have to re-engineer it's internal software and keep loading new beta releases in hopes that ONE DAY, MAYBE it will work as advertised.
Yes I love that it's an open platform and that these nice third party applications are out there. I will love it more when someone releases something that actually works, and isn't a beta. Heck, one day I might become enthusiastic enough about the platform to write an application of my own for it. But for now, I want to see them deliver on some of their original promises.
Sorry if I'm ranting, but I'm just coming up for air after loading the latest 2.0.35 beta and frankly, am developing a deep hatred for the platform and it's developers. If this was called 0.35 beta (release ZERO, not release two) I might have more sympathy, but nothing here qualifies as release 1.0, much less 2.0
I admit I have not really dug into it's linux internals yet. So far I've treated it as a video appliance I simply brought and plugged in. When I hit a brick wall on something I have looked/asked in the forum for answers. The answer usually is something along the line of, "That feature isn't finished yet" Maybe one day I will get motivated enough to really dig in and then I'll finally be happier with it when I start treating it as a toy and not a serious video device.
But I didn't buy it because I wanted a hacking challenge, and given the way I feel about it right at this moment, I am more likely to simply remove it from my media rack and toss it in the trash.
I was thoroughly angered at the hubris of Roku and the unfinished nature of the product when I bought it. When I was unable to return it, I shelved it and ignored it for a year, occasionally sneering at it when I passed by the media rack. Now, I have spent 3 hours fiddling with 2.0.35 and find, frankly, little if any improvement, and my former anger is boiling afresh.
I agree, there should be a disclaimer on the product. It should read something like this:
WARNING: This product is a hackers toy, intended for engineers conversant in linux internals and willing to work with endless beta releases with partial functionality. It is not, and should not be construed in any way as a finished product for end users. It offers lots of potential but almost no actual functionality. If enough volunteer developers write enough free code and contribute it to the code base, one day the product MAY be useful. But Roku in no way promises in any way to support the user, or any third-party applications and if you buy it you are stuck with it. Caveat Emptor!
I guess the biggest problem is mis-matched expectations. This thing is sold as a real, ready for prime-time, useful platform. It isn't. Not by a long stretch. And over a year's additional development time hasn't changed that. It isn't finished, and shows no signs of being finished any time soon.
Had it been sold simply as the hacker toy that it is, I might well have still bought it, but I would have been prepared to spend the endless hours tinkering with it, figuring out why the DHCP flakes out, why the sound skips, and so on. And when it didn't work, I would be more willing to roll up my sleeves and dig into it.
But I wanted a specific set of functionality that Roku seemed to promise, and when I bought it and discovered that functionality was not there, I tried to return it, and was refused. That angered me, a lot. Had the version 2.0.35 shown some serious improvement, I might have been a little more forgiving, but it still sucks.
Sorry for venting about this, but that's the ugly truth. The platform has a lot of potential, but frankly as it is, it sucks, and Roku well deserves to hear it from the users. I would like to hope that when version 3.0 comes out they will finally get it sorted out, but I'm not holding my breath.
I sincerely hope they do better with the radio. I ordered one, but I'm NOT prepared to be forgiving of the sorts of flaws in the HD1000. And frankly, after spending this evening fighting with 2.0.35, I'm considering canceling the order, half-convinced that these jokers simply cannot be trusted to deliver any product.
For now, I am simply,
One Very Frustrated HD1000 customer