Review: Roku Labs M1000 Soundbridge

Introduction

Roku Labs SoundBridge Network Music Player
SummaryNetwork music player with stylish packaging. Supports many streaming server formats. Ethernet and optional 11b wireless connection.
Update11/27/2004 - Added wireless range info and corrected 11b network effect
Pros• Easy to use and setup.
• Attractive case and display
• Supports many different music sources and formats
Cons• Expensive
• Does not directly support music purchased from Apple's music store
• 802.11b support only

Ever since I ripped my entire CD collection to mp3's a while back, the CD changer in my entertainment center has been gathering dust. It was great having my entire music collection in easy reach, but there was something missing. My main computer these days is an iBook and while the speakers on the iBook are fine for some things, music's not one of them. Besides the tinny sounding speakers, my library also chewed up a lot of space on my laptop's hard drive.

The first step in solving my problem was to move my music collection off to an iTunes server on my NSLU2 network appliance. That solved the space problem, but didn't address the sound quality issue. Luckily for me, my birthday was coming up and a few well-placed hints to my family resulted in an Apple airPort Express. The airPort Express is a nifty little device that among other things, let me use my existing stereo for playing my iTunes music library.

So my quality issue was solved, but as cool as my setup now was, something was still not quite right. Anytime I wanted to listen to music, I had to use my laptop to send the output to the airPort express. And what if I took my laptop to work, and my wife wanted to play music? It also sure would be nice to have a little display that would tell me what was playing, and how about a remote so I could be truly lazy and flip through my thousands of songs without leaving my easy chair? Is there any device out there that would fulfill my requirements? Enter Roku Labs' SoundBridge network music player.