Recognizing the growing importance of high-definition video displays and home theater systems, Anthony Wood has designed a new device to tie computer-based entertainment into such systems. Introduced September 22, the Roku HD1000 allows consumers to display digital photos, graphics, and other types of files on their HT screens.
Intended to compete with media servers from companies like Hewlett-Packard and Microsoft Corporation, the $500 box features four card slots for memory media, and connectivity for an Ethernet network. With the HD1000, users can play slideshows from digital photos, show video clips, and play music files. The device is "the first digital media player to be designed for high-definition televisions," according to May Wong of the Associated Press.
Although other products, such as DVD players, feature some networking capabilities, the HD1000 is the first of what could be a huge new product category. "There's no competition today," Wood told Wong, saying his company is " getting in early on a trend." The name "Roku" means six in Japanese, and was chosen because the company is Wood's sixth startup.
Built on a Linux-based platform, the HD1000 can be outfitted with a memory card full of images of nature shots and classic artworks, letting users turn their video screens into changing art displays. The next version of a Roku media server will come with a hard-disk recorder, according to the AP report.