Flipped on the Roku tonight and discovered a new channel. The Roku XDS box had added a channel to enable access to the USB port.
It took a few seconds to add the channel and then another minute or so to download the required software. Plugged in a USB with some media, and that’s all it took.
Navigation is streamlined and intuitive. The Roku interface stresses simplicity over options, so it’s easy for beginners, but maybe a little dull for advanced users.
The Roku doesn’t come with an internal hard drive, so many of the other manufacturers including Western Digital have played up that feature. I’d seen the Boxee and was impressed with the external-media capabilities. So far, for me, that hasn’t really been an issue. I mainly stream NetFlix and a few select channels, but that’s about it.
Even though I doubt I will use the USB port to stream movie files, I wanted to give it a try. The Roku easily displayed the MP4 files, but seemed to choke on the WMV files. Photos saved as JPEGs displayed with no problem, although Roku struggled with the thumbnails.
In the end, it was a good user experience. Although, I must admit, I had low expectations, since I planned to use the Roku primarily for streaming. I don’t own many downloaded video assets. But new features — especially ones that don’t cost extra — are always welcome.
On a side note, a new channel for the Adam Carolla ACE podcast network also became available on the Roku. I like the podcast for my iPod Touch, but didn’t see the need to add it to my television because it’s only audio.