First Look: Roku's Sleek Audio Streamer
At a Glance
Got a ton of music on your computer, but want to listen to it in other parts of your house besides your home office? Roku's sleek, sexy SoundBridge M2000 lets you play your tunes through any powered speakers or stereo in your humble abode with little effort, and the sound is wonderful.
Setting up the $500 SoundBridge is easy. Connect it to your stereo with included analog, coaxial digital, or optical audio cables, and to your computer network with either the supplied Ethernet cable or wirelessly using its built-in 802.11b circuitry.
Install Apple's free ITunes, or the included SlimServer software, on your computer and the SoundBridge automatically finds your music library. An included remote control lets you select tracks or playlists, and even search for songs by name or artist.
You can see what you're doing thanks to the SoundBridge's jumbo 17-inch-wide display, which shows artist, song, playlist names, and playing times in big bright text that you can easily read from across a room (Roku sells a SoundBridge with a smaller, 10-inch-wide display for $250).
Our one complaint: While the SoundBridge can play many popular music formats, such as MP3, AAC, WAV, and AIFF, it can't handle songs bought at Apple's ITunes Music Store, thanks to piracy-protection built into songs. However, a recent software update adds Windows Media Digital Rights Management compatibility, so it can stream protected WMA files.
That said, the only device that can stream Apple's protected AAC files to a stereo is Apple's Airport Express (which sorely lacks a navigation display and remote control). We much prefer SoundBridge's unique interface, but you'll pay a premium to get it.
Roku SoundBridge M2000
Great sound plus easy music navigation--but doesn't play Apple-bought tunes.
Current prices (if available)