Roku HD1000 Media Receiver Page 2

Unfortunately, in Roku's zeal to squeeze as many paintings as possible onto a 64-megabyte (MB) card, none of the JPEG files are especially generous with pixels. Mona Lisa, for instance, is contained in a surprisingly skimpy 99-kiloybyte file that displays at 470 x 720 pixels. Roku notes that given the painting's upright orientation, the 720 vertical pixels match exactly the height requirements of a high-definition 720p (progressive-scan) display. Still, I'd have preferred a larger file with a surfeit of pixels that would let me zoom deep into that smile.

Most of the photographs in Nature Art are scaled for 1,280 x 720 pixels. The big surprise here is that four of the images are MPEG-2 streams, which mean they move. You're not hallucinating when you see the poppy field wavering in the breeze or the mountain brook flowing. Roku calls these motion images LiveArt, and they're a hoot.

The HD1000 failed to find any computers on my home network until I installed a software fix provided by Roku. This is the first media receiver I've used that didn't come with software for scanning your hard drive for music or photographs and communicating with the set-top device. To do so, you need to know some basic file-sharing techniques on a Windows (2000, ME, or XP) or Mac (OS 10.2 or later) computer. (In Windows you right-click on a folder to open a dialogue box about sharing.) If you're using a Wi-Fi network and don't want neighbors nosing around your hard drive, be careful what folders you share. The HD1000 does support passwords.

You can set up the HD1000 to access up to four file folders from your PC, and I was able to enjoy my music (MP3, WAV, and AIFF) and photos (JPEG) on my home-entertainment center at the same time. As we went to press, we learned that the HD1000 also claims to be able to play back over a network high-def video recorded to a PC's hard drive by an HDTV tuner card.

While I've used easier-to-install and more multimedia-versatile media receivers, the Roku HD1000 in its most straightforward application - as a photo-card player for your HDTV - does the job. Its slim silver profile complements any flat-panel TV, and the Art Packs are great for showing off your display's gorgeous color rendering. Lifting the remote to intermingle images of dancers by Degas with pictures of your own little ballerinas rotating on your plasma screen to New Age music during a party could well be where the digital home is headed - at least in the dreams of those who market technology.