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Dan Speirs
2004-12-23, 19:02
Nic, like others, I have spread the squeezebox love to
a few buddies. I do not own a Roku and have never
seen one in person but I must say I prefer the look
and size options. I am waiting to buy another
Squeezebox for a next version in hopes that it has a
larger display. That being said, I love my Squeezebox
and wouldn't part with it.

As far as the differences, the big one I see is
distribution. Roku seems to have created some great
distribution channels which I think may (or will?)
give it a sales advantage. Their website says you can
buy it at Fry's, Radioshack, BestBuy and other places.
To thrive and dominate a market you need great
distribution not necessarily the best product -
Windows/Apple or Intel/AMD are examples (I am not
trying to start a who-is-better rant, just
regurgitating my marketing background). That being
said, I am sure SlimDevices is working on better
distribution, not just various independent stores
around the world.

I went over to Roku's forums and found what an
employee laid out as the differences. I found this
quite interesting.

Dan

<snip>
http://www.rokulabs.com/forums/viewtopic.php?t=283&highlight=squeezebox

PostPosted: Wed Oct 27, 2004 5:29 pm Post subject:
Reply with quote
Sorry this took a little time -- we're all pretty busy
on the next software release! Smile

Okay, let's see.

First of all, it pays to understand how the iTunes and
SlimServer functions of SoundeBridge relate.

The primary user interface of SoundBridge is the one
we wrote ourselves. It has no relationship to or
requirement for SlimServer. It connects directly to
iTunes sharing, or to WMC or other UPnP/AV media
servers. All audio decoding is done locally, on the
SoundBridge. This user interface is the recommended
interface for SoundBridge.

We have also implemented an emulator that allows the
SoundBridge to play music from a SlimServer. We
support up to SlimServer 5.2.1 at this point. 5.3 made
some changes in the communication between the server
and the client that don't work with our emulator, and
we haven't had the time to investigate a fix, since it
happened right at the end of our 2.0 cycle.

You may know that the SlimServer is designed to
produce the user interface of the client(s) connected
to it. The client is essentially a remote screen with
an audio output and MP3 decoding capability.

We implemented an emulator on SoundBridge which makes
it look to the server as if it is a SqueezeBox. So,
features of SlimServer that work on the SqueezeBox
should work on the SoundBridge in like fashion.
Exception: we don't support the new SqueezeBox-G
graphical screen at this time. We haven't decided
whether to support it or not.

Okay, with that background out of the way, let me try
to take the questions here in chronological order.

Can the interface be modified like SqueezeBox? If
you're using SlimServer, then it supports what the
character-based SqueeeBox units do. The "native" UI
does not support user modification.

Sound quality: both products feature digital audio
outputs, so that would be a wash. I think we may have
a nicer DAC in the SoundBridge if you're using analog
outputs, but I'm not certain.

Wireless B devices operating on a Wireless G network
decrease the overall throughput of the G network, but
not to the level of a B network. Both products have
802.11b WiFi, so there is no advantage here to either
one. If you're terriblyi concerned, you can get a
WiFi-G->Ethernet bridge and hook the SoundBridge to
the bridge with Ethernet.

Simulcast: the "native" client does not support
synchronization of players at this time, although it's
a feature we're investigating for a later release. If
you're streaming from SlimServer, you can sync the
players to within some margin of error.

Regarding web control, this is probably in our top-5
feature requests, and is being given very active
consideration.

Regarding streaming uncompressed (e.g. decoded FLAC
from SlimServer). This should be no problem on a wired
network. Via WiFi, it can be problematic with any
product because of the inconsistencies involved in
wireless networking. It may work beautifully one day
and have skips the next. WiFi uncompressed audio
performance when using the native client is actually
very good because we buffer heavily. The SlimServer
streams more of a real-time stream, so glitches are
more noticeable. If you intend to stream uncompressed
audio as your main content, I would suggest a wired
connection.

Whew! Okay, that's it for the questions, I think.
Please speak up if I missed anything.

Now, let me make just a couple of other quick comments
regarding the differences in the products.

Because the SoundBridge decodes audio locally, all
compressed audio formats that we support result in
less network bandwidth usage than the same formats on
the SlimServer, except for MP3. The reason is that the
SlimServer decodes to uncompressed to send over the
network. It also has the option to use a compressed
format, but then you're paying a transcoding penalty.
We support nearly all of the major formats at this
point (the Apple and WMA Lossless formats being the
exceptions at the moment), and have the ability to add
additional codecs, which we're certainly working
towards.

Also, if you have any interest in using any of the
online music stores that sell audio content in
WMA-Protected format, you will want a SoundBridge. We
have licensed the technology from Microsoft and are
"Plays for Sure" compliant. We do the decryption on
the SoundBridge. As I understand the MS licence, the
SlimServer would not be allowed to transcode and
broadcast downloaded music to the clients.

Hope this answers your questions!
_________________
Mike Kobb
Senior Software Engineer
Roku
--- Nic Wardle <nic (AT) nwardle (DOT) freeserve.co.uk> wrote:

> Hi
> First sorry for such a cr*p title to this subject
> but I couldn't think of a better way to describe
> it!!
> I have recently had 2 close friends come over and
> they both left in admiration of my beloved
> squeezebox setup.... Both are computer savvy and
> went away to "research" themselves into media
> servers (despite my proclamations they were wasting
> their time!!)
>
> Both have (independently I may add) returned to me
> asking what advantage we (the squeezebox clan) have
> over the enemy (!) - roku.
> Now - without wanting a slanging match over the two
> devices, what would you all say the advantages of
> the SB are over the Roku?? The only thing I reckon
> Roku has going for it is the look of their device
> (and that is obviuosly going to vary from personal
> taste!).
> Things I can think of at the moment:
> 1) Excellent support
> 2) Regular server/firmware updates
> 3) Ability to use iTunes if you wish
> 4) Large variety of format support
> 5) Not having to create a playlist of radio stations
> (we have shoutCAST!)
>
> Help me out here everyone, I think I have 2 more
> customers on the way!!
> But I am trying to be objective, as they are both
> good friends!!
>
> Many thanks
>
> Nic
>
> PS: I like the readability of the forum Beta!!
>
> --
>
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