Devices such as the Vudu and the Roku boxes fall under this category. They aim to do one thing and do it well by restricting themselves to some VOD services and presenting their users with an environment similar to DVD renting, only online. Local media can't be played through them. Some of the SOC platforms which have found traction in this market include NXP STB 236 and Broadcom BCM7401. These SOCs were primarily designed for the IP set top boxes (Vudu and Roku may also be termed IP set top boxes, but at a more basic level compared to what these were originally designed for). These platforms do not support DTS audio, which is pretty much a pre-requisite nowadays for products geared towards the media streaming audience.

The Roku HD streamer introduced recently utilizes the NXP platform with a 320 MHz MIPS32 host processor. The STB 236 platform uses the PNX8336 at its core. H264 and VC1 seem to be supported codecs for hardware acceleration, while MPEG-2 seems to be only partially supported. The SOC has suitable connectivity options including USB, SATA and Ethernet. However, HDMI is not integrated in the SOC. The PNX8336 was released in April 2008. Since then, NXP has released video decoder chips targeted towards the TV and the DVR markets in December 2008 and March 2009. However, they seem to miss the mark as far as the features required for a media streamer device go. It will be interesting to see what Roku has in its roadmap, and whether they would shift suppliers for future products. The Roku HD-XR has a USB port, but it serves no discernible usefulness at present. The unit has an operational power consumption of 6W.

Vudu & Roku
Media Streamers Based on IP Set Top Box Platforms

Vudu, on the other hand, has realized that selling a restrictive IP set top box in this market is not an easy task. It is now striving to remodel itself as a service provider of sorts by integrating their software into the next generation Blu Ray players and TVs. Still, it is interesting to take a look at the platform behind their original device. It is based on Broadcom's BCM7401 (which also happens to have a 300 MHz MIPS32 host processor), which provides support for H264, VC-1 and MPEG-2 decode. Connectivity options include the standard set of USB, SATA and Ethernet. Now classified by Broadcom as a legacy product, this SOC has probably been superseded by the BCM7400 / BCM7400B introduced around the same time. It is also puzzling as to why the BCM7400B which provides support for DivX decoding wasn't used. That would have probably made the box closer to what the media streamer market needs. Vudu, unlike Roku, also provides the ability to purchase and download movies from their collection. This necessiates a hard disk inside their unit, which puts the operational power consumption much higher than Roku's at 18W.

All said and done, the days of these types of media streamers are numbered. They have to evolve themselves to different types of products in the coming years in order to survive in this market.

Blu-Ray Player / Media Streamer Combo Internet & Local Media Streamers
Comments Locked


View All Comments

  • ganeshts - Tuesday, June 15, 2010 - link

    Modeverything, We are aware of the good reviews of Brite View on other channels and good user feedback too on AVS Forums. We will try to get reviews up for their upcoming product(s), but no guarantees :)
  • Mumrik - Wednesday, June 16, 2010 - link

    Crap! When I read the headline I anticipated a roundup-style review. Not an overview of the field :-/
  • Montrey - Thursday, June 17, 2010 - link

    I was a little surprised that the Seagate FreeAgent Theater+ (emphasis on the "+") was not mentioned in the article. I purchased one about 2 months ago after a fair amount of research on products that fit my needs. I have been extremely pleased with it so far. With it you can:

    Directly plug in a Seagate FreeAgent portable drive for hidden storage or transport
    Use the USB port on the back for another storage device
    Stream media over your home network (minor registry fix in Win7 to make it work)
    Access YouTube, Netflix, and a variety of other streaming media that I never use, but Netflix works great

    The main selling point for me at the time of purchase was that it can handle pretty much any kind of video file you can throw at it. I have yet to find anything it cannot read. You can even play a ripped DVD folder just as if it were a DVD. In fact, you can share a DVD drive on a networked computer, and play a DVD from that, eliminating a stand alone DVD player.

    Best of all, for a 1080p USB and streaming media player, it is fairly cheap. I bought mine on NewEgg for $90 shipped.
  • ganeshts - Thursday, June 17, 2010 - link


    The Seagate FreeAgent Theater+ also uses a Realtek chipset (similar to what is on Xtreamer). The platform is covered, but the product in particular may be investigated in detail in a future review.
  • shuck76 - Thursday, June 17, 2010 - link

    A couple additional features for your comparison list would be:

    ISO playback ability for DVD and Blu-ray
    Blu-ray menu support
  • ganeshts - Thursday, June 17, 2010 - link


    Thanks! Will add the following to the test suite:

    (1) DVD / Blu Ray ISO Support
    (2) DVD / Blu Ray Menu Support
  • fzzzt - Thursday, June 17, 2010 - link

    Please consider adding ISO images to your list of containers. Myself and others I know simply use images to play discs, getting all the features without any hassle.
  • ruzveh - Thursday, June 17, 2010 - link

    Apart from flawless 1080p support for all files and codec we also want some more hardware support incl. Bluetooth 3 + HDMI 1.4 + 7.1ch support + better graphics and audio components and capacitors
  • ganeshts - Thursday, June 17, 2010 - link


    We will probably see many features that you want in the next gen products.

    7.1 channel support already exists on most players support HDMI 1.3 ; We will keep an eye out for the graphics capabilities.
  • ruzveh - Thursday, June 17, 2010 - link

    I also believe that todays media players should also support next level IPv6. And support all major online video and radio sites. What else can we ask in a media streamer.. ummmm??

    Maybe capability to add more accessories :D

Log in

Don't have an account? Sign up now