I recently discovered the Sono's system... and must admit this is exactly what I've been looking for for years.
Roku hw is great. I have a 1000, a 500, and just bought a used 2000 for my home's new addition... well, I wish I had seen that new product first.
So... ROKU, WAKE UP!!!!
There have been requests in the past to improve the user experience, but we haven't seen much coming from Roku. They do a very good job on sw updates, and I'm sure (well, I hope for them!) that they plans in the pipe for new products, but they're going to have a hard time fighting this new competition.
Some will say that cost makes a big difference here, and maybe Roku is not interested in addressing the higher end market, but going for higher margin products doesn't seem too stupid for a small company...
You just need to look at what Apple is doing with their Mac come back to realize that people are ready to pay for products which are just well thought and work without the need to have a geek on call 24/7. Thanks to Microsoft for educating all of us on this for years
(no I'm no Mac fanatic, just tired of fixing all my friends and relatives's PCs... when my wife's MacBook just works).
So anyway, here is what I think would be great to see coming from Roku:
- a "Sonos-like" remote control, showing you art works, playlists, letting you create/update them, rate your tunes, etc... This would have to come with a radio interface somehow, and enable the control of multiple units.
- the ability to manage playlists from Roku's systems. Just store whatever info is needed on the server storing music files
- but most, most, MOST of all... stop relying on customer's technical abilities to make this system more user friendly / usable/ etc... By now, I shouldn't have anymore to "unslung" my NSLU2 to run an iTune server, my soundbridges should just figure out how to access my server's music files. People shouldn't have to play with PDAs to have a decent remote. The list goes on... but bottom line, I'm the only one in my household to know how to fix my music system whenever it goes down.
So of course I'm not asking for all this for free. But provide a well thought-through remote control experience similar to the Sonos's, get rid of iTune/Windows Media Player etc (just point to a server/folder, and get to work), and charge a price that makes the Soundbridge + remote equivalent to a Sonos system, and you'll get a good competitive advantage. The Sonos has an upfront cost which is hard to swallow; where you could provide a more modular approach, where customers can invest more as time goes and as their understanding of the overall solution's ease of use grows.
I have grown found of my soundbridges, and wouldn't want to have to ebay them...