Some Thoughts: Roku SoundBridge M1001 Review
Like many people, I love internet radio. There are tons of internet stations out there, the variety is enormous, and they are free! However, I’ve found two major problems with using the them: I hate having to have my computer on to play the music and I want to have it channeled through my stereo system. There are solutions for playing via your stereo system, such as Apple’s AirTunes which also allows you to play your iTunes’ music library. But again, you need to have your computer on (and you need to control the music through the computer…really is annoying if the stereo and computer are in separate rooms).
I searched around for some sort of stereo or receiver that had a built in internet radio (wanting free and not something like XM or Sirius). While trolling around Amazon, I happened upon the Roku SoundBridge M1001. The SoundBridge looked like it had all the features I needed and got pretty good reviews. It also was only $150, so I “added to cart” and bought the thing.
The SoudBridge is awesome! It is a fairly small metal tube that has in the back a plug for the power cord and an a plug of the stereo output. You connect via wireless (802.11b – the B version as opposed to the now standard G) to your network fairly easily using the graphical LCD menu on the SoundBridge, meaning that you stick the SoundBridge right next to your stereo system in the other room. From there you now have access to the hundreds of pre-programmed internet stations on the SoundBridge and you can play them all through your stereo system. You can choose anything from Cantonese to Alternative 90’s Rock stations. Store you favorites or enter a URL for any station on the internet…all with your computer off. If you do want to turn on your computer, you can access you iTunes’ music library. The best part is that you control the songs or playlists from the SoundBridge using the remote and graphic lcd menu system.
There is always a downside to every product and this one might be a killer for some people. The SoundBridge is unable to play any songs downloaded from Apple’s iTunes due to the DRM encryption (what makes Apple’s songs only playable on iTunes and on a limited number of computers). The only downloaded iTunes songs that can play on the SoundBridge are those that are DRM free (and those are few and far between on iTunes).
If you’re ok with the iTunes limitation, I highly recommend the Roku SoundBridge. It is easy to setup, has a wonderful list of preset stations (and you can add your own all without your computer on), and you can play you iTunes’ music library (with the computer on, but controlled from the SoundBridge). I’m even listening to the SoudnBridge right now!