My product of choice is the: Roku Soundbridge.
Here are the different versions: http://www.rokulabs.com/products/selectionguide.php
A Roku SoundBridge is a network music player that lets you play your PC or Mac digital music files anywhere in the house by connecting your stereo or other audio device with audio in. It is a network ready with wired Ethernet and a CompactFlash Wi-Fi adapter (some models built in). Some of its features include:
- Plays directly from iTunes, Musicmatch, Windows Media Connect, Windows Media Player 10, Windows Media DRM 10, with no additional software required.
- Built-in software supports WMA, AAC, MP3, WAV, and AIFF. To play protected WMA files, you will need Microsoft\'s DRM 10, which is included with Windows Media Connect. Unfortunately, rights-managed AAC files purchased from the Apple music store can not be played on SoundBridge. AAC not supported because Apple does not allow streaming of AAC.
- Large Display and simple remote.
- Browse abilities of your collection by Song, Album, Artist, Genre or Composer.
- Internet Radio access so you can listen to a large selection of free music and talk Internet radio stations without even turning on your computer. Save ten of your favorite stations for easy recall without even turning your computer on.
- Wall and Shelf mounting kit.
- SoundBridge offers both Coax and Optical SPDIF digital out for connecting to your stereo sound system or powered speakers.
~~ Roku Overview
The Roku soundbridge network music player can be used in either wired or wireless mode. An Ethernet jack and a CompactFlash card slot for the wireless adapter are located beneath a removable cap on the side. Inputs and outputs are located at each end. The jacks are covered by a removable cap, and include optical/coax digital and RCA stereo analog. Inside is a 400 MHz microprocessor, a DSP chip from Analog Devices while future firmware updates can be used to support additional audio compression formats and will improve the user interface.
The M1000 uses a Vacuum Fluorescent Display (VFD) that will display a 280x16 pixel array, for up to two lines of text, with a 16 pixel font being the maximum size that can be displayed. The M500 has a LCD Display 2 Lines x 40 Characters. The text is bright and readable even from wide angles. If you want a bigger display, the M2000 display uses a 512x32 pixel array.
The supplied remote is small and fits into the hand quite easily. The buttons are well laid out, which is good since there are no hard buttons on the SoundBridge itself.
~~ Roku Installation
Installing via wired mode was not hard at all. Attach an Ethernet cable from your router to the Roku and you are ready to go. For wireless operation, you can use open mode or 802.11b WEP. Hopefully WPA will be supported soon. Once on the network is that, it can download firmware updates over the network. There is a simple menu item to check for updates. Once selected, it communicates with the Roku site to determine if an update is available. Beyond that I just plugged it into an aux audio in for my Stereo and I was up and running.
Make sure you open up potential firewall settings on computer if going to stream from it.
~~ Music Playback
The Roku connects to a music server installed on a computer to play music files or request information (list of music files, playlists, search results, etc.) about the music library. The unit itself has no hard-disk and as such does not store any music. Once you select a track to play, the music server streams the contents of that file to the Roku.
The Roku Soundbridge is extremely flexible in terms of the music servers that it supports. Some of the supported servers include: iTunes, Windows Media Connect, SlimServer, and Rhapsody. Note that all the servers do not provide the same functionality. For example, some support keyword search, while others do not.
I created playlist and streamed away. I also saved into a playlists a bunch of Internet stations. I then picked the ones I wanted to save as my Internet top ones so that I could listen to Internet stations on my stereo without the computers being on. You can do song queues as well.
With Soundbridge software version 2.1 or later you can control the device playback via a web page and using UPnP as needed. You can see what is playing, adjust your Internet Radio Favorites, adjust some basic configuration settings, etc.
The Roku SoundBridge Network Music Player is an excellent product, and a delight to use. The support for multiple music servers, multiple platforms, and support for both lossy and lossless compression formats makes this an extremely flexible product.