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View Full Version : SB3 vs. Roku M500



anandrag
2006-03-31, 13:39
Can anyone give me the lowdown on these 2 units? I was set on Squuezebox, but Roku is so cheap ($50). What am I giving up in terms of functionality for the $200 differential?

ezkcdude
2006-03-31, 14:03
Which Roku is that cheap? The M500 is $149 and the M1000 is $199 according to the website.

Mark Lanctot
2006-03-31, 14:07
The SB3 has a much bigger graphical display, bigger even than the Roku M1000. 320X32, as opposed to 280X16 for the M1000 and 40X2 for the M500. Also the display is graphical instead of text-only.

The SB3 has much, much better electronics than the M500. Every component is higher-spec. This should lead to much, much better sound. I haven't heard the M500 so I can't confirm. However I've also never driven a Porche but I know it's faster than a Kia.

Wireless networking: the SB3 uses 802.11g and supports open, WEP and WPA. WPA2 soon. The Roku units are 802.11b, open and WEP only.

SlimServer is fully integrated into the SB3. You can use SlimServer with the Roku, but since SlimServer isn't designed for it, new SlimServer versions may break Roku functionality. It'll be up to them to re-engineer their product to suit.

The real comparison is between the M1000 and the SB3. The M500 is clearly not intended to compete with the SB3. It's more in the league of the SB1, discontinued for almost a year now.

Though there isn't that much Roku-bashing in the forums, I won't participate in it (much), but without bashing Roku at all, the SB3 is better in every way, shape and form than the M500. The M1000 is its true competition and most people around here will say the SB3 is far better, but having never played with the M1000 I can't say. :)

tom permutt
2006-03-31, 14:54
It's not a direct comparison, but I can say that I've had both. I bought a Roku and returned it because it just didn't work well enough for me to want to have it. Sometime later I bought a SqueezeBox 2, and I have been very happy with it.

Not working, for me, meant mostly that the wireless router got confused and had to be rebooted. I know that wireless protocols have not entirely crystallized yet, and so the SqueezeBox can't promise to work with everything, either. It does seem to play nicer with more other hardware, though.

I didn't have the Roku long enough to have a critical opinion of the sound. I can say, though, that the SqueezeBox is good enough not to be a weak link in my nonhighend but pleasant setup (yes, audiophiles, both my ears and my gear are that mediocre, so spare us the "If you had a revealing system ..."):
Jolida hybrid integrated amp and JMLabs Cobalt 816 speakers. Oh, and nonmagic wires connecting them: I think they're made out of copper.

Jon
2006-03-31, 18:49
Also, the Squeezebox can be completely controlled via a web browser, including selecting music to play, etc ... whereas the Roku can only do that if you use SlimServer to control the Roku (which, as others have pointed out, is not the best of ideas ... plus I believe it only works with a backlevel version of slimserver, at least according to Roku's website which states "Please note, the latest software is not compatible with SoundBridge. The last compatible software version is 5.2.1.").

For me, this was the real difference-maker ... I wanted to be able to select music using a browser from a PDA or other handheld device.

Where did you find a Roku for $50? While I am EXTREMELY happy with my (4!) Squeezeboxes, I must admit that I might have gone in a different direction (and perhaps been dissapointed later?) if I could have gotten Rokus for $50 apiece ...

bernt
2006-04-01, 01:06
I paid for great look,FLAC support and faster wireless.

ROKU don't have it.

aubuti
2006-04-02, 08:01
Wireless networking: the SB3 uses 802.11g and supports open, WEP and WPA. WPA2 soon. The Roku units are 802.11b, open and WEP only.


For me, this was the biggest factor for deciding against the Roku. Because if you have any 802.11b device on your network then you have to run in 11b-only or mixed-mode, and it slows down your whole wireless network. Mixed mode was tolerable for a while until I migrated my 11b devices to 11g, but there was no way I would spend new money on something (e.g., Roku) to slow the network down again. Not even if I could find it for $50.

snarlydwarf
2006-04-02, 11:23
Was the 802.11g and WPA for me on the wireless side, the support of Slimserver ("well this really ancient version works, but anything else may or may not" isn't acceptable), and this forum.

The Roku forums suck: the attitude is entirely different.

notanatheist
2006-04-02, 22:05
Speed is a major issue as well. I had a Roku M1001 for about a week. It wasn't good enough for me to want to use on a daily basis. I have since purchased two SB's and got rid of the Roku. The SBs are used daily for my music collection and internet music. Responsiveness is top notch. Roku has to emulate therefore responds poorly. *IF* I could get a M500 for $50 I get one for the garage where I wouldn't use it as much. Still, the LCD display you can't see from more than 4 feet away while the SB VFD can be seen from across the room so that inhibits my decision to buy as well.

bruce
2006-04-03, 15:33
The difference for me was that the Roku remote requires you to browse, rather than search, for an album or artist. That seems incredibly tedious with my modest (500 CD) collection. Can any Roku users tell me if it's really that frustrating in practice? Even the Squeezebox remote is a bit tedious (requiring multiple key presses for each letter) until you install the Lazy Search plugin, which in turn requires upgrading to a beta version of the server. Then it works great. I think there are other pros and cons between the two systems -- neither is ready for the mass (non-hacker) market -- but the remote problem was a deal-killer for me.

)p(
2006-04-03, 23:44
I als read somewhere that the newer Roku's upsample anything to 48khz. A big no no for high quality 44.1khz cd ripps.

peter

abdomen
2006-04-04, 06:31
I als read somewhere that the newer Roku's upsample anything to 48khz. A big no no for high quality 44.1khz cd ripps.

peter
Here is where you might have heard about that. It is true, and it does cause a loss of precision and thus audio fidelity. It was done to cut costs.

http://forums.slimdevices.com/showthread.php?t=16914&highlight=48khz

Mark Lanctot
2006-04-04, 08:23
I'm going to try to refrain from Roku-bashing as much as I can, but looking at that last link brings up some troubling thoughts.

[That thread was closed. The "M1001" quoted in the link is no longer available, it's the M1000 again and the M500 is back.

I didn't poke around the forums, but this raises a question: was 44.1 kHz support re-introduced for the "new" M1000 and M500? Doubtful - why would they want to increase costs? Also by renaming it the M1000 they do away with the negative connotations associated with the M1001 and no one's the wiser that it may not support 44.1 kHz anymore.]

Edit: inaccurate, but the end result is the same, no 44.1 kHz support at all, see the posts below.

Also the model which clearly never did resample to 48 kHz, the flagship $399 M2000, is not listed on their site anymore. I have to assume it's been discontinued.

Something's not right in Roku-land.

Looking around their forums shows an awful lot of heads in the sand. There was some healthy "48 kHz is bad" in that thread, but there was also some alarming "you don't need it/can't hear it" posts.

ezkcdude
2006-04-04, 08:43
I check up on all different kinds of audiophile and DIY forums, and very rarely see anyone mention using the Roku. I think the people "in the know" know that the SqueezeBox is the real deal, and the Roku is just a pretender (sort of like Florida vs. UCLA last night).

aubuti
2006-04-04, 08:48
Also the model which clearly never did resample to 48 kHz, the flagship $399 M2000, is not listed on their site anymore. I have to assume it's been discontinued.

Something's not right in Roku-land.


That seems like an understatement. On their products page it says (I added the CAPS for emphasis):

"SoundBridge is available in TWO models :the M1000 and the M500. BOTH include SoundBridge's sleek aluminum body and full feature set. Now you have THREE ways to enjoy digital music in every room of your house!"

EDIT: Well, okay, maybe the 3rd way is supposed to be the Soundbridge Radio, which is still "Shipping soon!"

autopilot
2006-04-04, 09:27
Never used a Roku. However, i was in an Apple store in Liverpool (UK) about two months ago and they had a Roku on display that had almost completely fallen apart, i could see wires and everything! I could not believe how poor the build quality was, so plasticy and nasty, and i could also not believe they insisted on continuing to use it in the apple store (i guess they needed their trendy music, it did still work.. just). I cant see how the SB3 could ever look that bad without being run over by a truck. The SB3's build quality is 100 times better than the Roku.

Mark Lanctot
2006-04-04, 10:33
"SoundBridge is available in TWO models :the M1000 and the M500. BOTH include SoundBridge's sleek aluminum body and full feature set. Now you have THREE ways to enjoy digital music in every room of your house!"

LOL!

Again, I'm not trying to bash. The statements I made in that last post are fact-based and/or questions raised based on facts stated in their forum.

I take back my earlier comment that the M1000 is the true competitor for the Squeezebox. If it resamples to 48 kHz, no matter how well it does so, then it is not in the same market. It is built to a price point, not a performance point. The former M2000, which is indeed discontinued, see here (http://www.rokulabs.com/forums/viewtopic.php?t=6304), was truly the competitor. Now it's gone. That leaves Sonos, and they are too different to really be compared - they focus on a high-end UI and convenience rather than sound quality and flexibility.

It's too bad, one needs a worthy competitor to keep on the cutting edge.

Now, if I was Roku-bashing, I'd point to a comment in this (http://www.rokulabs.com/forums/viewtopic.php?t=4845) thread made by a Roku employee:


We are the leader in Networked Music Players and intend to stay that we.[sic] Our products are in the most stores, sell the most units, and on average get the best reviews.

Non-sequitur. The Ford Focus sells far more and is more widely available than the Lexus LS. Does this mean the Focus is superior? Hardly.

Does Ford make more money selling the Focus than Lexus does selling the LS? Possibly. But which one would you rather drive?

More heavily promoting (maybe I should use the term "pimping") a product doesn't make it better.

snarlydwarf
2006-04-04, 11:14
I take back my earlier comment that the M1000 is the true competitor for the Squeezebox. If it resamples to 48 kHz, no matter how well it does so, then it is not in the same market. It is built to a price point, not a performance point. The former M2000, which is indeed discontinued, see here (http://www.rokulabs.com/forums/viewtopic.php?t=6304), was truly the competitor. Now it's gone.

From that thread, the M500 is also discontinued: they just have an apparently huge warehouse full of them.

aubuti
2006-04-04, 12:09
A CNet review (FWIW) also says that the M500 is discontinued. The end of the product line might help explain the bargain price ($50) for the M500 that was mentioned at the beginning of this thread.

http://reviews.cnet.com/Roku_SoundBridge_M1000/4514-6739_7-30794476.html

Mark Lanctot
2006-04-04, 12:33
Their constant swapping in and out of models is very confusing.

It appears that BOTH the M1000 and the M500 listed on their site are discontinued! They are operating off surplus stock.

They will BOTH be replaced by the aforementioned M1001 that does 48 kHz up-sampling. It will become their only model since the M2000 is gone as well.

So the M500 at least has 44.1 kHz support going for it, if you can stand the small display and the 802.11b/no WPA.

That thread was back in early October. It's now early April. That's 6 months. They must have a helluva lot of surplus stock for a company that "sells the most units".

bruce
2006-04-04, 21:20
We are the leader in Networked Music Players and intend to stay that we.[sic] Our products are in the most stores, sell the most units, and on average get the best reviews.

While I agree that volume isn't everything, it does mean something. It means something for the manufacturer; it is often (albeit not always) an indicator of business success. But more important are the reasons for volume. The sales of Squeezeboxes (and probably Soundbridges and other network music players) are a tiny fraction of what they could be if they had less buggy server software, a better server UI, and thorough documentation, among other things. I love my Squeezeboxes, and I hope Slim Devices is the company that brings this technology to the mass market. But it's not ready yet.

radish
2006-04-05, 06:07
While I agree that volume isn't everything, it does mean something. It means something for the manufacturer; it is often (albeit not always) an indicator of business success.

No, it's not. I work for an investment research firm. We use an awful lot of statistics and figures to try and figure out which companies are (or are going to be) successful. "Units shipped" is not one of them, and neither's market share. What matters is margins, profits, turnover, ROI, leverage - and the predictability of all of those in the future.


The sales of Squeezeboxes (and probably Soundbridges and other network music players) are a tiny fraction of what they could be if they had less buggy server software, a better server UI, and thorough documentation, among other things.

People in the "mainstream" do not evaluate software or documentation before purchase. They buy whatever Paris Hilton uses, or whatever's discounted on that Sunday's Best Buy ad. IF Slim wanted to sell to that crowd they'd be well advised to cease all r&d right now and plough a ton of cash into advertising. I, for one, would be sad if that happened.



I love my Squeezeboxes, and I hope Slim Devices is the company that brings this technology to the mass market. But it's not ready yet.
Newsflash - this technology is as mass market as it's ever going to be. Most people just don't understand the point of a product like this - they're happy with CDs, or one of the myriad of iPod speaker systems. If they want to step it up a notch they'll buy something like a Media Center PC, because people these days are much more interested in video than audio.

And that's fine by me.

Michaelwagner
2006-04-05, 16:21
People in the "mainstream" [...] buy whatever Paris Hilton uses, or whatever's discounted on that Sunday's Best Buy ad. IF Slim wanted to sell to that crowd they'd be well advised to cease all r&d right now and plough a ton of cash into advertising.
Or maybe give one to Paris Hilton?

grimholtz
2006-04-28, 21:08
I'm in the market for a few Rokus or Squeezeboxes. After reading many reviews of both (generally 1.5 years of older), I found this very helpful thread. In case anyone else stumbles upon this thread, I posted a similar query in the Roku forums (click here) (http://www.rokulabs.com/forums/viewtopic.php?t=7367) to get their point-of-view. I'm hoping some knowledgable Roku owners reply so I can get a balanced opinion.

Regards,
grimholtz