Roku unveils a new streaming stick, soundbar, voice remote, and Roku OS 10 with expanded AirPlay support
Roku was one of the first names in the streaming box market, and it’s continuing to pump out TV hardware to this day. The company released a new Roku Ultra and ‘Streambar’ near the end of last year, and now there are more new products on the way. Roku OS 10 will also start rolling out soon, bringing new features to the company’s entire product lineup.
Roku Express 4K+
Roku sells a few different streaming devices with overlapping features and price points, but the Roku Express 4K+ seems to be the new middle-of-the-road option. It supports 4K video playback with HDR10+, voice commands and TV controls on the remote, dual-band Wi-Fi, and Ethernet (with an adapter). The Roku Express 4K+ has a box form factor instead of a stick-like design, so you’ll need to use the included HDMI cable to plug it into your TV.
Roku says the Express 4K+ will be available for $39.99 and will ship with the company’s latest Roku OS 10. That’s $10 less than the Chromecast with Google TV and the Fire TV Stick 4K. However, it will be a Walmart exclusive in the United States.
Roku Streambar Pro
The original Roku Streambar was released last year, which combined a 14-inch soundbar, Bluetooth speaker, and streaming player into one device. It received generally positive reviews, and now Roku is releasing a slightly better version for slightly more money.
The new Roku Streambar Pro (this one is only for professionals, obviously) has an upgraded remote with the option to plug in headphones for private listening. It also has a new Virtual Sound feature, which “creates spacious sound that moves around the room for an enhanced audio experience.” That functionality is also rolling out to the non-Pro Streambar, as part of the Roku OS 10 update.
You’ll be able to purchase the Streambar Pro in ‘mid-May’ for $179.99.
Roku Voice Remote Pro
If you have an existing Roku product and you want some of the newer remote features found in products like the Streambar Pro and Express 4K+, you’re in luck. The new Roku Voice Remote Pro is compatible with “all Roku TV models, audio devices, and select streaming players,” and includes a rechargeable battery, remote finding (it can make a chime noise when lost), TV controls, private listening, and even hands-free mode. If you don’t want the remote’s microphone running all the time, you can switch to push-to-talk.
The Roku Voice Remote Pro is available today from Roku.com for $19.99, and it will arrive at other retailers soon. Annoyingly, it still seems to have hardware buttons tied to specific streaming services, like Roku’s other remotes.
Roku OS 10
Finally, Roku is rolling out a new update to its operating system. The company said in its announcement, “Roku OS 10 introduces a variety of new features getting users to content faster, improving network and input configurations, offering new ways to customize the experience and performance enhancements.”
Roku OS 10 includes full compatibility with Apple AirPlay 2 and HomeKit, so if you mostly live in the Apple ecosystem, your Roku devices will feel a little more at home. You’ll be able to control Roku devices with Siri or the Home app on iOS and send content to Roku devices from compatible apps. However, HomeKit and AirPlay 2 won’t work on all devices.
Another new feature is Instant Resume, which saves the state of a channel when it’s closed, so opening it later won’t take as long. However, it seems like something that will have to be implemented for each channel — Roku says AT&T TV, FilmRise, FOX Business Network, FOX News Channel, Fubo Sports Network, HappyKids TV, Plex.tv, STARZ, and The Roku Channel are the first to add support.
Other changes include a customizable Live TV channel guide, prompts for new Wi-Fi networks, automatic game console detection, voice entry for some on-screen keyboards, HDR10+ support, and improvements to search results. Roku OS 10 has already started rolling out, and it should arrive on all compatible devices “in the coming weeks.”
Disclaimer: The author of this article owns stock in Roku. This does not impact the opinions stated here.