Until 2010, Roku was well served by NXP's lineup of IPTV STB chips. What prompted the move to Broadcom for the 2011 lineup? As evident from the end product, it is clear that Roku wanted an SoC capable of the following:

  1. Compliant H.264 decoder (Multi-format would be a plus)
  2. Ethernet / USB / SDIO support
  3. GPU for satisfactory casual gaming (such as Angry Birds)
  4. Low power consumption (to enable small form factor and cheap thermal solution)
  5. Low cost (to hit price points between $60 and $100 in retail)

Even before the Roku 2 units reached the public, FCC filings revealed that the Broadcom 2835 SoC was the app processor inside the streamer. Mike at MyCableAlternatives has an excellent teardown and description here. In the same article, there is also an educated guess about the specifications of the BCM 2835:

  1. 700 MHz ARM11
  2. OpenGL ES 2.0 compliant GPU
  3. 1080p30 H.264 High Profile Decode

The fact that the Ethernet and USB ports are both enabled by the SMSC LAN9152 (USB/Ethernet to USB bridge chip) indicate that the BCM 2835 doesn't have an Ethernet port. Unfortunately, not much else is known about the BCM 2835 because it is going to remain an unannounced part. Folks interested in keeping track of information about the BCM 2835 would do well to follow the Raspberry Pi project based on the same SoC. All in all, the main SoC is no great shakes, but it looks to be good enough for the Roku 2's limited media streaming requirements.

Like most big silicon companies, Broadcom makes their offerings attractive to companies by providing a package deal for the miscellaneous components in the final product. Let us take a look at the other components which Broadcom managed to snag in the Roku 2 XS:

  1. BCM 59002 Power Management IC
  2. BCM 20702 Bluetooth Receiver in the main unit
  3. BCM 20730 Bluetooth Transmitter in the gestural remote control
  4. BCM 4336 802.11n single chip solution

How good is the Broadcom solution? Does it get the job done effectively? We will cover these aspects in the rest of the review.

Unboxing and Setup Impressions Netflix Streaming


View All Comments

  • arswihart - Friday, September 30, 2011 - link

    You need to know about the MyMedia local streaming channel, which lets you watch your videos on any Roku device by installing the channel and running a small server program on your home computer. Quality is excellent, as expected, you can get the highest quality the Roku is capable of and speed will be better than anything because it's on your home network, not over the internet. It also plays music and displays photos. The only significant downside for video is that you do often need to re-encode to one of the supported formats, but that's to be expected: http://forums.roku.com/viewtopic.php?t=25955 Reply
  • ganeshts - Friday, September 30, 2011 - link

    The approach seems very similar to the one taken by Plex (which I already mentioned in the review). Plex seems to transcode, but MyMedia doesn't seem to (as far as I can see). Roku 2's native support is abysmal (No MPEG-2 / MPEG-4 / DivX / XVid support? Almost all SD media is in one of those codecs).

    If you have the necessity to play local media, I suggest getting a cheap Seagate media player or Patriot Box Office (often found for < $50 on the deal sites). I would never recommend transcoding and/or re-encoding of existing content.
  • arswihart - Friday, September 30, 2011 - link

    Can't say I disagree, but if you have a Roku and you want to use it for local media, it is probably the best available solution, and it works great if you have your videos in the right format. You can automate the pre-transcoding by setting up Handbrake to convert every video file that shows up in a designated folder:
  • ganeshts - Friday, September 30, 2011 - link

    The specifics in that thread are for the previous generation Roku. Current generation doesn't support MKVs yet. But, yes, definitely a helpful link for users of the previous generation Rokus. Reply
  • AmdInside - Friday, September 30, 2011 - link

    I've owned the Roku2 and returned it simply because the OS is slow, especially if you try to launch a Netflix 1080p video. I really wanted to like it and sell my ATV2 but alas, this product while offering more features, just isn't as well polished as the ATV2. Reply
  • RamarC - Friday, September 30, 2011 - link

    I know a roku or dedicated streamer will be better overall, but is a good bluray with dlna a good alternative for most folks? Reply
  • ganeshts - Friday, September 30, 2011 - link

    My belief is that any single device solution will always end up with a bad user experience in one department or the other. Good Blu-ray with DLNA will have bad experience with respect to local media playback. (Rudimentary DLNA profile support would imply that a majority of the user's media is rendered unsupported). Reply
  • Aditya369 - Friday, September 30, 2011 - link

    Considering both of them are available at similar price, How does it compare with revue. Reply
  • ganeshts - Friday, September 30, 2011 - link

    Revue doesn't have the special gaming remote or 1080p/DD+5.1 Netflix , but it has a host of other features.. In the end, it is going to be horses for courses.. The device I would recommend depends on the end user's usage scenario. If 1080p/DD+5.1 Netflix and casual gaming are not in your radar (i.e, just ordinary 720p Netflix will cut it for you), there is no need go with the Roku 2. Reply
  • Aditya369 - Friday, September 30, 2011 - link

    Thanks for feedback. I do not have setup up for DD+5.1. Will it possible to do everything on revue browser (like on laptop). Can it will play all the video content on internet. Reply

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