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
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  • quiksilvr - Friday, September 30, 2011 - link

    There is no point getting the XS if it's usb media playback capability is so poor. I'm not playing online with this thing so the wireless would do just fine. Might as well save $20 and get the $79 one.
  • bobsmith1492 - Friday, September 30, 2011 - link

    This looked like a nice product until it said you have to give them your credit card. No thanks, not interested. Not a chance.
  • fic2 - Friday, September 30, 2011 - link

    I agree. I stopped reading at that point.
  • Hauk - Wednesday, October 5, 2011 - link

    I'm in the market for a streaming device; no chance with the credit card requirement. Like the other guy said, I stopped reading at that point.
  • slick121 - Friday, September 30, 2011 - link

    Wow the local playback is not good at all. The ATV2+XBMC still seems to be the best local streaming solution.
  • Death666Angel - Friday, September 30, 2011 - link

    "and is expected to cost lower than the Roku 2 HD"
    Isn't it "expected to cost less than"? Otherwise, good review. Though I don't care much for media players like that. Full blown HTPC all the way for me! :D
  • JarredWalton - Friday, September 30, 2011 - link

    Fixed, along with numerous other typos and grammatical errors. Thanks.
  • racerx_is_alive - Friday, September 30, 2011 - link

    I noticed that they had a couple new software revisions out since last year, and most of the criticisms in your initial review were of the software, either stability/compatibility bugs or the software.

    I was just wondering if these fixes have made the difference in turning it from a "wait and watch" recommendation to something a little more positive.
  • racerx_is_alive - Friday, September 30, 2011 - link

    oops- or of the web browser. Redundant phrase is redundant.
  • ganeshts - Friday, September 30, 2011 - link

    We have been waiting for the HD audio dropout bug to be fixed. So, for local media, it still remains wait and watch.

    For online streaming, well, the Roku 2 has a better UI compared to the Boxee Box (no unnecessary distractions in the interface). But, technology wise, if online streaming is all you need and you are not put off by the price, the Boxee Box is worth the purchase.

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