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Media Television

Roku Finally Gets a 2D Menu System 80

DeviceGuru writes "Many of us have griped for years about Roku's retro one-dimensional user interface. Finally, in conjunction with the release of the new Roku 3 model, the Linux-based media streaming player is getting a two-dimensional facelift, making it quicker and easier to access favorite channels and find new ones. Current Roku users, who will now begin suffering from UI-envy, will be glad to learn that Roku plans to push out a firmware update next month to many earlier models, including the Roku LT, Roku HD (model 2500R), Roku 2 HD, Roku 2 XD, Roku 2 XS, and Roku Streaming Stick. A short demo of the new 2D Roku menu system is available in this YouTube video."
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Roku Finally Gets a 2D Menu System

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  • I believe we already crashed linuxgizmos.com because it's incredibly slow.

    It's only been four minutes!

  • Roku 3 (Score:5, Interesting)

    by fyngyrz ( 762201 ) on Friday March 29, 2013 @05:19AM (#43310135) Homepage Journal

    Sadly, although the new Roku has the new interface and a fast CPU, it's lost a lot of the connectivity that made the original Roku such a great device; the optical audio is gone, and so is the component video. The 3 is composite video + analog audio, or HDMI+audio, or nothing. I made great use of that connectivity with a high end, but older, Denon receiver for one unit, and a toshiba flatscreen 720p CRT display. Both still work perfectly, but will have to stay with the original roku, which is very slow. So no new interface for me, sigh.

    I'm thinking there's still a lot of similar hardware out there, too.

    • You could spend some money on an HDMI switch with TOSLink optical output to keep your receiver viable for a bit longer. I've bought one several years ago, and it's currently feeding my Logitech desktop surround system.
      • by bigtrike ( 904535 ) on Friday March 29, 2013 @01:07PM (#43312479)

        You'd be better off with high quality analog outputs. TOSLink is limited 2 channels, so any conversion with more channels (assuming the Roku even supports that) requires some sort of encoding scheme and a loss of quality.

        • I'm guessing that most of the usage would be streaming encoded Dolby Digital which is typically 5.1. For instance, if I'm watching a recent movie on Netflix, it will likely have a Dolby Digital track. It's true that the original TOSLink (S/PIDF) spec only allowed for stereo PCM, but a hack was added a long time ago to allow DTS and Dolby Digital. Now, you can't get Dolby Master Audio or DTS HD over TOSLink, but that isn't a big deal when it comes to streaming video services, and will go a long way towards k
    • The 3 is composite video + analog audio, or HDMI+audio, or nothing.

      So, it's a Raspberry Pi.

      For all I rag on Pi, it makes an adequate thing on which to run XBMC...

    • by garcia ( 6573 )

      So buy an old one. I have both an old and a new Roku (the new one was $50 on sale around Christmas and we plan to use it at our vacation home).

      I mean, do you really expect them to support devices which few people use anymore? I didn't have a HDTV until a few months ago but most people haven't had a need for component input for a VERY long time.

      Are companies really supposed to support dying technologies just to make a handful of geeks happy? The device is tiny and cheap as it is, continuing to hold out on th

      • by fyngyrz ( 762201 )

        So buy an old one.

        I *have* an old one. Reading comprehension fail much?

        I mean, do you really expect them to support devices which few people use anymore?

        No. I expect them to support optical audio, which is a standard connection even today; and I expect them to support component, which is *also* a standard connection, even today. They can of course choose not to include such support, just as they have done, but then I will choose not to buy the new device to replace my old device, just as I have done. Unde

  • by degeneratemonkey ( 1405019 ) on Friday March 29, 2013 @05:40AM (#43310197)
    Did it look like this? ---
    • Exactly. WTF, just WTF. Don't people even know what dimensions are anymore?
      • by Enokcc ( 1500439 )

        Dimension of a vector space is the number of linearly independent vectors in its spanning set of vectors. And I don't know how this applies to user interfaces.

    • by Jarik C-Bol ( 894741 ) on Friday March 29, 2013 @06:38AM (#43310305)
      It took me a while, but I finally figured out what the hell he meant by '2 Dimensional' It seems that the original Roku interface was a lot like the 'Photo Stream' or 'Album Stream' in apple products. Scroll left or right, and it pages through 200 channels. Now, its more like the Xbox home screen, with several channels displayed per page, in a block, and you can navigate up down left and right in that page.

      Its still a retarded way to describe the problem.
    • by Overzeetop ( 214511 ) on Friday March 29, 2013 @08:06AM (#43310551) Journal

      Yes, actually it did look like this - - - - -

      And now, it looks like this:
      - - - - -
      - - - - -

      Where each - represents an icon. Notice how the icons may be addressed by a single value, or a single dimension. Now, they are addressed by two values - sometimes known as 2 dimensions.

      I'm guessing that you're the guy who, when he walks into a lab with lots of critical equipment and the lab manager says "don't touch anything," you are the one who asks "Can I touch the air? Can I touch the floor?" Grow the fuck up.

      • by Anonymous Coward

        Settle down, Francis, he was joking.

        Too bad the mods couldn't get past your first few lines.

      • For someone not versed in UX, the summary sucks. We get it now, 2D has a special meaning in UX design versus the more common meanings. Do not yell at the reader for the article's shortcomings.
    • by Tarlus ( 1000874 )

      It would have been better described as an interface with one-dimensional navigation. If you think about it, a lot of UI's could be described this way. Throwing in that extra dimension so that items could be laid out into a grid instead of a line makes it quicker to navigate through a long list of items.

  • As the link has been Slashdotted, I am left with my imagination boggling as to what the one-dimensional interface looked like.

    I am thinking in terms of a thermometer-type slider, like those 1960's radio tuners; am I right? But with no room even for markings by the side, just a thin line that changes colour as you slide?
  • there is no such thing as a 1D interface.
  • by Sesostris III ( 730910 ) on Friday March 29, 2013 @06:52AM (#43310341)
    I use one all the time. It's called the command line. I have no problems with it!
    • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

      by Anonymous Coward

      How are you able to see the letters if they have width but no height or depth?

      • by Anonymous Coward

        The dimensionality has to do with the number of directions the interface can be navigated in. Left and right, which is one dimension. Up and down the screen would be a 2nd dimension, then 3D would be in and out of the screen.

  • So, will we still get adds for the PPV fight as the first 5 items in the list on the TV in the toddler's playroom? That's why I ditched the Roku to begin with - the first screen of items was stuff I didn't want, and couldn't rearrange. Maybe now I only have to scroll through one 2D page of ads instead of three screens of useless icons?

  • Just started getting into Roku programming in the last month, and I kind of like the ifPosterScreen's [roku.com] "arc-landscape" 1-D metaphor — for small numbers of objects, it's easier to see the selection when it's placed front and center (as a result of your right-left arrowing) than to just put a little highlight box around it like AppleTV does. CoverFlow does nothing for me on iOS or (especially) Mac, but on Roku it seemed to work pretty nicely.

    And it's not like this is the only menuing system available on

  • My question is this. Netflix will not support Linux. They simply stonewall from what I can gather. Of course you can get it running in Wine, hell you could probably even get it running in an Android emulator.
    The Roku however runs Linux and handles Netflix, TV's that run Linux internally handle Netflix. How does they accomplish this? Closed source code certainly, but Netflix is just a streaming service.
    If you were trying to build a 'renegade' Netflix app for Linux, where does the problem lie? In conv
    • If you were trying to build a 'renegade' Netflix app for Linux, where does the problem lie?

      The problem is that they can change the server around endlessly to crap on your app.

      I have a custom HTPC/ media server in the closet in my living room. It does quite a few nice things. However, I want to ditch my windows license on it, rebuild it in Linux and Netflix is the main reason that I cannot.

      You mean, you will not. In any case, if someone were going to spend effort on integrating Netflix with a Linux HTPC it would be a much shorter trip to use vmware player and script launching iexplore. Since you already have a Windows license (as do most PC owners) this is not really a problem for you except perhaps on an ideological level.

      You could always switch to using an Android-based device to display to your TV. That wou

    • The Roku however runs Linux and handles Netflix, TV's that run Linux internally handle Netflix. How does they accomplish this?

      The same way Android, Boxee Box, and WDTV accomplish it: by being a closed system that allows DRM. It's not that Netflix doesn't want to support Linux, it's that the content providers for Netflix don't want them to support a system where they can't control what happens with the stream.

      • by jedidiah ( 1196 )

        That's nonsense.

        Linux is no less of a "closed system" than Windows or MacOS is yet those platforms support Netflix. Anyone can run a debugger or a memory monitor on those platforms and start chipping away at Netflix and their little stronghold.

        A proprietary binary enforces the DRM. Doesn't matter if you are talking about Netflix or Amazon. Doesn't matter what platform you are talking about.

        Linux happily plays protected Amazon streams and no one in Seattle gets their panties in a bunch over it.

        Ironically eno

        • A proprietary binary enforces the DRM.

          How would they distribute that proprietary binary on a Linux system, when they need to compile against different versions of different libraries that may or may not be installed on your system, and may or may not still exist next week when you update your system? Do you suggest they statically compile all of the libs and dependencies they need into the binary itself?

          Short of coming up with their own Linux distro specifically for the purpose, they have decided that there's no way they can distribute a propri

    • This actually works really well:

      http://how-to.wikia.com/wiki/How_to_watch_Netflix_(Watch_Instantly)_in_Linux [wikia.com] It uses WINE, but the ppa sets everything up for you (if you are using Ubuntu). For things like TVs and Rokus, they have special, non-silverlight DRM built in that Netflix has specified. The problem with making truly native Linux client is that, like most things for Linux, the market share isn't there to make it cost effective.
  • by argStyopa ( 232550 ) on Friday March 29, 2013 @09:22AM (#43310855) Journal

    Now if Roku would just accept/publish a standard so my universal remote - that controls EVERYTHING else in my a/v cabinet - can also take over from the forlorn little retarded Roku remote that I daren't possibly lose.*

    *ok that's an exaggeration, I found an app for my android that lets me control it in a pinch, or when I want to piss off whoever's watching TV. I do wish it had a "here's what's being watched" scroll though.

    • Not sure what remote you're using, but my Harmony works fine. If it's not in the database can you have your universal remote learn from the Roku remote?

    • by jedidiah ( 1196 )

      It's like 5 buttons. What's to publish?

      Reverse engineer that trivial number of buttons and publish that on the web for anyone to use (and integrate into their $10 remotes).

      If companies are interested in supporting it, it's pretty trivial if they have any interest in at all. Clearly your bargain bin IR remote vendors can't be bothered.

    • by uncanny ( 954868 )
      I think some ROKU's remotes operate over RF , not IR. Most universal remotes dont do RF
  • We have a a semi-old Roku box. It generally works great, but I've noticed half the time their "updates" break things horribly and we have to wait for another "update" to fix whatever they broke.

    Still, if it works, I'll be happy enough. It is a pretty mediocre UI at the moment.

  • Is it still smeared all over with Advertisements? It's the one reason I left the Roku for the apple TV. Roku was great until they got greedy and started slathering the thing in adverts.

    • Mine has one banner ad at the bottom of the Roku main menu which advertises some show or service from one of the channels. Is that what you mean by slathering and smearing, or do you get something different?

  • I'm just dreaming, but I hope they get Google Play support with this.

  • is for Roku to go back to allowing you to access Netflix without having an account with Roku. When I bought my Roku years and years ago I just wanted a simple Netflix streaming device. Recently I was forced to do a hard reset and firmware update and now they require you to have an account with Roku and the account is tied to an email address and if you don't jump through hoops a credit card as well. Just what I need another company to track my viewing habits :(

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