Roku PhotoBridge HD – Bummer

So Brad was pretty bored by my first two reviews so I figured I’d tackle something a bit more complex this time around, the Roku PhotoBridge HD. In short the PhotoBridge HD allows you to stream audio, video, and pictures from PC’s connected to your network to your television/home theater – all in high definition, or at least that’s the idea.

I got my PhotoBridge back in June while I was recovering from surgery. I was excited to get it as I’d been following this class of product for quite a while. I specifically wanted the PhotoBridge as it was the first (and only at the time) device that would stream video in HD – something that was key to me to use with my new plasma TV.

However, I was painfully disappointed.

I had one primary goal for the PhotoBridge – to allow me to stream DVD’s in their native resolution from my PC to my home theater – allowing me to build a mini-jukebox of DVD’s that I could watch at any time (like my TiVo). It failed, miserably. There are several reasons why, the biggest being that the PhotoBridge is not ready for prime time. As I suggested on their forums (which are thankfully very active) it should be called a “reference platform” since the one key thing they did right is run embedded Linux on it. As a result of this and the fact that they have released an API (albeit a very limited one) there are several third party software applications that almost get it there.

Almost.  The main reason I gave up was that in the end it wouldn’t support subtitles, DTS sound, DVD menus, true fast forward/rewind (it only had 30 second jumps), and was extremely buggy. The interface is terrible, the remote is lousy, the software is limited, it locks up constantly, and you have to jump through hoops to get basic things to work. One positive – photos look amazing on an HD set – really awesome. However, while I love to play with toys when it comes to my home theater I just want things to work. After 40 hours with the PhotoBridge (upgrading, reinstalling, reading, posting, reading, installing, tweaking) I punted and sold it on eBay. Up next, the Buffalo Linktheater Hi-def Mediaplayer (should be here this week).

As for the PhotoBridge I give it a strong pass, that is unless you feel like playing with something that in the end will never live up to the marketing hype. Very disappointed.  … Ross