What You Get with the Roku XD

Netgear ships the Roku XD with a small no-frills remote, composite video cables, a brief manual… and that's it. Everything you need to get the device hooked up and running to an SD TV is included. The device can connect to your network via its RJ-45 Ethernet port or via the built-in wireless b/g/n adapter. If you want HD support and multi-channel audio, you will have to bring your own HDMI cable to the party.

The design is all about function rather than form. The remote is simple and black, without so much as text to let you know what the buttons do; instead, white images on black buttons is all you get. The box itself is a mere one inch tall and five inches wide and another six inches deep to make for an extremely unobtrusive footprint. While idling, my Roku XD used 3.8W of power; that "jumped" up to the 5.9W range while streaming an HD movie over Netflix. It's not as good as some other streamers we have looked at such as the Apple TV, but since we're not looking at a battery operated device 6W is hardly worth mentioning—it will raise the yearly electric bill by perhaps $5 if run 24/7.

Looking inside, I discovered the NXP PNX8935 SoC. This chip from NXP handles the latest HD video formats including H.264 and VC1/WM9 at resolutions of up to 1080p. It seems likely that the same chip powers all three Roku offerings, while the peripheral chips attached are likely varied—i.e. the USB controller, network chip, etc. Unfortunately, without the other two models on hand, I cannot comment on the exact differences at the hardware level. The picture below shows the general layout of PNX8935 SoC based systems.

The hardware should be more than sufficient for most streaming services; however, there isn't the sort of container format support you would expected from a local media streamer such as the Patriot Box Office or the WD TV Live. The primary goal of a box like this is streaming support, and while the XD/S adds USB support for local playback, the file and container support isn't anything to write home about compared to other streaming devices focused on local media.

Gallery: Roku XD

The Netgear/Roku Partnership, Bringing the Roku to a Store Near You Setup, UI and Content


View All Comments

  • RamarC - Sunday, November 14, 2010 - link

    I'd really like to see a comparison of these media streamers vs some bluray players. I was planned to buy a Roku XD a couple of weeks ago, but since they weren't in stock yet, I figured another $100 for a networked bluray was worth a try.

    I just got 2 bluray players with the specific goals of accessing Netflx AND my MP4 collection (either from my home server or USB hard drive). Neither Panasonic's nor Toshiba's units could do it and Sony's wireless was flaky and didn't like NTFS drives. I skipped Samsung since they didn't seem to offer anything that the other didn't. Only the LG BD570 did everything decently enough but I had to spend $40 extra for the wireless version because the BD550 wasn't DLNA capable.

    I really wanted to put a dedicated laptop for all the net on the big TV, but $500+ (with wireless kb/mouse) was too expensive since the wife had to have Netflix on both TVs. Just under $400 for two LG player's isn't bad but I still wonder if they're better/worse than an XD or WD box.
  • ajlueke - Wednesday, November 17, 2010 - link

    In the situation you mentioned above, just lookng for Netflix and MP4 playback, you would probably be fine with two of the $100 Roku boxes. You would lose the blu-ray capability of the LG players, but if that isn't as important you could save yourself about half the cost. Reply
  • Yeah - Friday, November 12, 2010 - link

    Let me know when they create a box like this that I can record some clan matches with my ps3 and toss them up on Utube.

    Anthing else I try to use now is clunky and time consuming.
  • JarredWalton - Friday, November 12, 2010 - link

    Seems to me if you want something that can record PS3, you'd need a device with HDMI input. The only solutions I know of with HDMI recording capability are expensive to say the least. (Okay, so something with component input could work as well.) If you haven't looked into it, what about something like this (PC required, naturally):

  • cplusplus - Friday, November 12, 2010 - link

    Talk to the game makers about that one. PS3 has had the ability to upload Youtube videos for a couple years now in their SDK, and there have been a few games that have actually implemented it, but not many. Reply
  • KeithP - Friday, November 12, 2010 - link

    Is there any chance you could revisit this article with some direct comparison of Netflix (and others) streaming visual quality between the Roku devices, AppleTV, etc.?

    Some of the stuff I have seen so far seems to indicate the AppleTV, while limited in features, has better video quality although the comparison didn't focus on Netflix streaming.

    I know, in theory, they should be basically the same but we all know in actual practice that is not the case.

    I was thinking about getting an AppleTV to stream my iTunes content and Netflix. However, if the visual quality is the same with the Roku, I think I would give up the iTunes streaming for Roku's greater flexibility.

  • ajlueke - Friday, November 12, 2010 - link

    Hi Keith, as I believe I said in the article, I didn't see any difference between the Roku, and W7 MC. You do have more control or color saturation etc in windows but otherwise Netflix looks amazing. I don't have an Apple TV or Revue on hand to look at, but I suppose I could look at my 360 as well. As far as Netflix image quality goes, i don't think you'll be disappointed. Reply
  • Twirrim - Friday, November 12, 2010 - link

    Might as well ask here as it's hard to figure out from Roku's site (and I can't find a list of channels anyway)

    Can a roku stream media from a uPnP source or other network device? I've got a NAS that's capable of doing NFS/SMB/uPnP that I'd really like to stream to the TV via something like a Roku box.
  • Thermogenic - Friday, November 12, 2010 - link

    No, it can not. There is a channel that supports PlayOn, but I can't vouch for how well that works. Reply
  • EddyKilowatt - Monday, November 15, 2010 - link

    Was going to ask about DLNA support myself; assume answer is the same.

    A bit puzzled about this, though... given the things these Media Streamers already do, being able to stream content off a local NAS (or home server in my case) seems like a no-brainer, both in terms of additional design and in terms of marketing.

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