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Roku XDS Reviewed - Inside

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I always wondered what was behind the Roku's box near-flawless playback of Netflix content. So I finally opened up both the original N1000 and XDS to see what's going on. Figure 5 shows the top of the XDS board, which is nice and clean compared to the N1000's board in Figure 6.

Roku XDS board
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Figure 5: Roku XDS board

When I went through the the components, however, I found the designs surprisingly similar.

Roku N1000 (original) board
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Figure 6: Roku N1000 (original) board

Table 1 summarizes the key components of the original Roku and XDS, which both use Nexperia's PNX8935 multi-format source decoder. It's obvious that a newer version of the PNX8935 is used in the XDS, given the device's smaller size.

Component XDS N1000
Processor Nexperia PNX8935E1 / M101S1 multi-format source decoder Nexperia PNX8935E / M101S1R3 multi-format source decoder
HDMI Nexperia TDA9981A HDMI transmitter Nexperia TDA9981A HDMI transmitter
RAM 256 MB 256 MB
Flash 256 MB 64 MB
Ethernet SMSC LAN8710A 10/100 Ethernet Transceiver SMSC LAN8700c 10/100 Ethernet Transceiver
Wi-Fi ? Atheros AR2524 BB/MAC / Airoha AL2230 802.11b/g RF transceiver with embedded PA
USB SMSC USB2512a Two port USB 2.0 Hub Controller None

Bottom views of the N1000 and XDS show where extra RAM is stashed. I'm not sure when flash size was increased from 64 to 256 MB; probably in the previous generation HD-XR. I wasn't able to determine the maker of the Wi-Fi radio devices used since they are under the soldered-on shield and Roku has requested that the FCC delay posting the internal pictures.

The difference in antenna design is startling, though. Compare the etched antennas of the XDS with the N1000's two bent-metal ones in Figure 6. And remember, the XDS' are dual-band antennas vs. the single-band 2.4 GHz antennas in the N1000.

Roku XDS antenna detail
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Figure 7: Roku XDS antenna detail

To prove that the XDS really is dual-band, Figure 8 shows that it detected both the 2.4 and 5 GHz radios of my NETGEAR WNDR3700. The signal bars show the relative strength of the signals. But you can't get any info on the link rate being used.

Roku XDS wireless network selection

Figure 8: Roku XDS wireless network selection

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