Looking to merge the worlds of digital photography and high-definition television, Roku, a new company started by ReplayTV founder Anthony Wood, announced its first product last week, a digital media player that connects to HD television sets.
The Roku HD1000 has slots for the various flash memory formats (including CompactFlash, SD/MMC, Memory Stick and SmartMedia) to display digital still images and MPEG video on an HD set. While the HD1000 is optimized for high-definition sets, the unit will also work with analog televisions.
According to Wood, the HD1000 contrasts with the other flash media TV viewers in that it is designed from the ground up to be compatible with HD televisions, whereas competitive flash memory TV viewers are principally designed for analog sets (though most can output via S-video to an HD set).
"There have been lots of products in this market, but they haven't been executed well," Wood said.
The Roku HD1000 includes component, VGA, S-video and composite video out, for use with standard as well as high-definition TVs. Other connectors include component in, S-video in, composite in, RS-232, audio in and out, and digital audio out.
The HD1000 can also connect to home networks via Ethernet or 802.11b to output to HD televisions digital media files, including images, video and music, stored on home computers. The HD1000 has no hard drive or other storage capacity, but instead acts as a hub to pull content from flash memory cards or home networks.
"We envision the PC being the storage device but HD televisions being the output" destination, Wood said.
According to Wood, the media player is aimed at more than just photos. The company created an open architecture operating system so that developers would have a chance to innovate new uses for the HD1000 and HD sets and home media.
"We designed this to be an open platform for developers to program interesting applications," Wood said.
The HD1000 will be available this month for a suggested retail of $499.