Roku HD1000

Roku's HD1000 offers high definition photo and video presentation in a simple to use set top box. Check out our early impressions.

While there are plenty of options for displaying images and video onto a home display -- be that TV, LCD, Plasma or projector -- there are precious few that will take advantage of the crisper display of a high-definition capable set. Roku's HD1000 fills that gap, offering HD display images, and, through its art pack add-ons, turning your Plasma display into a virtual art gallery.

Upside: As a standalone viewer, setting up the HD1000 couldn't be easier. Just plug it into your eventual viewing mechanism -- HD-capable for best effect -- wait for the system to boot up and stick in a memory card with compatible files on it and you're away. More advanced functionality allows you to connect to your home PC via either wired or wireless connections. As an additional incentive, Roku sells what it calls Art Packs on CompactFlash cards; saving you the need to travel to the Louvre just to see the Mona Lisa, when she's displayed in HD glory on your living room wall. Unlike Pinnacle's ShowCenter, the HD1000 supports the higher bandwidth 802.11g wireless standard (with a compatible card), making wireless DVD playback at least theoretically possible.

Downside: Even 802.11g may not be enough to satiate your video watching habits; the supplied manual with the HD1000 mentions that video playback via this method is not recommended, and if you're in a home setup where you frequently suffer from network issues, you may not be able to fully utilise this functionality. High Definition output is nice, but of course at the other end you'll need high definition images to feed into the HD1000; if all you've got is lower resolution images you won't get the best possible effect. The HD1000 certainly offers the best quality output of any current digital photo viewers, but that's offset by its price -- a relatively hefty AU$699 for the base unit alone.

Outlook: If you're stuck struggling with an HD display and a surprising lack of content to display on it, the HD1000 could be a great solution, at least until HD broadcasting really takes off in Australia.

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