Roku’s streaming devices and sound products have found their way into our “best of” rounds as one of the top picks. Just check out first place in our best soundbars of 2021 where the Roku Smart Soundbar is currently on the throne. Then there are our best streaming sticks and devices from 2021 – and if you didn’t know, the Roku Ultra has top honors there. The same is true for the best televisions, with the TCL 5-Series Roku televisions making up the overall selection.
With this in mind, we’re excited to announce three new devices and a major software update from Roku that will improve the current line of products. In particular, Roku just announced the $ 29 Voice Remote Pro, $ 39 Express 4K +, and $ 179 Streambar Pro. You can buy the Voice Remote Pro now, while Express 4K + and Streambar Pro can be pre-ordered. Delivery will begin next month. In addition to new hardware, Roku is preparing OS 10, which will be available for a number of devices of the current generation.
What is special about the new hardware and software? I am glad you asked. Let’s take a closer look.
The Roku Voice Remote Pro has an additional microphone for hands-free functions.
An updated remote doesn’t seem like the biggest improvement, but Roku goes a step further with the Voice Remote Pro. And yes, it has a headphone jack for private listening.
The $ 29.99 Voice Remote Pro launches Tuesday, April 13th, and has all of the features that Roku users love and expect. Now it is equipped with a rechargeable battery. Previously, Roku remotes used either AA or AAA batteries, which you would replace every few months.
Not only is it more environmentally friendly; According to Roku, the battery inside should last around two months. Once the battery is low, you can charge it with a micro USB cable. Interestingly, Roku didn’t opt for a solar panel on the back like Samsung is doing with its remote controls for select 2021 TVs.
Additionally, Roku added a midfield microphone to enable hands-free voice interaction with the remote control from anywhere in the room. For example, you can say, “Hey Roku, find my remote control” if you’ve misplaced it again. This triggers a beep from the remote control. (Admit it, losing a remote is way too common and causes a lot of undue stress.)
There is a physical switch on the remote control that can be used to disable the always-on microphone for users who are privacy-conscious and don’t want it to always be listening. You can continue to use voice commands at the touch of a button if necessary.
All the important functions of the Roku remote control are still there. You get a headphone jack for private listening (helpful when your partner is asleep, but all you have to do is keep bathing) and the programmable keyboard shortcuts for your favorite apps – not to mention they work with all Roku players and TVs.
The Voice Remote Pro is available to order now from Roku.com and will be available in retail stores in May.
The Roku Express 4K + can be pre-ordered for $ 39.99.
Roku’s Express products are known for providing great value as entry-level streaming devices. The Express 4K + is the newest device from Roku that fits into the familiar shape. It can be pre-ordered now. Delivery starts at the end of May.
At $ 39.99, the Express 4K + has a lot going for it. The experience starts with a 4K HDR image that supports standards such as HDR10 and HDR10 +. Your television must support these in order to benefit from them. If you have a 1080p HD TV, the Express 4K will stream content at that resolution. There’s also dual band Wi-Fi support, and you can use the micro USB port to connect to an Ethernet cable with a compatible adapter. Each route should be a more stable link, which means less buffering.
The Express 4K + uses a quad-core processor designed to boost performance over the Roku Premier, the device it replaces in the Roku line of products. You get the Roku voice remote control, which allows you to control your TV and the Express 4K + from a single remote control. Super practical, especially with built-in volume controls. This streamer also supports Amazon’s Alexa, Google Assistant, and Apple’s AirPlay 2 / HomeKit platforms.
The Express 4K + rivals the Amazon Fire TV Stick 4K for $ 49.99, has the same broad support for content and an Ethernet connection, and is $ 10 cheaper. At this price point, don’t expect the overall performance to blow your mind, but it’s more than capable of streaming your favorite shows without skipping a moment.
The $ 39.99 Express 4K + is available for pre-order now. Shipments will begin in May, along with retail availability.
Roku’s Streambar Pro offers Virtual Surround to create a 5.1 digital experience.
Roku’s Smart Soundbar is currently our number one pick for the Best Soundbar of 2021, and the new Streambar Pro will be its successor. Safe to say we have high hopes for it. You may be wondering why the name is changing? Well, Roku (thankfully) tweaks the naming scheme it uses for its products. The company introduced the smaller Streambar last year, and the Smart Soundbar is now Streambar Pro. Technically, it’s also the second generation smart soundbar.
The Streambar Pro offers the same attractive price of $ 179.99 and has nearly the same features as the original Smart Soundbar. The 32-inch housing contains four 2.5-inch full-range drivers, which together produce a full and robust sound.
Most importantly, it is a combination of soundbar and streaming box. Just plug in the Streambar Pro and use it like any other Roku streaming device. The speed of the Smart Soundbar was similar to the Ultra, and we’re assuming it will stay the same here.
The Streambar Pro comes with a voice remote control and headphones for private listening when you use the remote’s 3.5mm headphone jack. It will include OS 10’s new virtual surround feature designed to trick your ears into believing that you are hearing a full 5.1 surround sound system coming from the soundbar (more on that in a minute).
The Streambar Pro is available for pre-order now for $ 179.99. Shipments are expected to begin in May, along with retail availability.
Roku OS 10 will be launched on eligible Roku devices.
Roku is starting to roll out its OS 10 software update across its product line and introducing several new features. It starts with the expansion of Apple’s AirPlay 2 and HomeKit platforms to include Roku’s HD streaming devices. So far, both functions were only available on 4K Roku devices.
With AirPlay 2 and HomeKit support, Roku owners can stream music or videos from their Apple devices to a Roku device, or use the HomeKit feature to issue Siri commands to control the Roku device.
Another notable feature in OS 10 is Instant Resume. Thanks to this feature, you can go back to the exact time you stopped playing, even after you close the app. At launch there will be at least 15 supported services including Starz, AT&T TV, FilmRise and Fox Business Network. More services will be added over time.
Other features of OS 10 include customizing the live TV channel guide, automatic network discovery for improved connectivity, and configuring the game console for Roku TV owners. The latter feature detects what type of game console is connected to the TV and enables low latency game mode, HDR games, variable refresh rate and THX certified game mode if your Roku TV supports it. This is an easy way to get the best onscreen experience from your console.
HDR10 + support is also included in OS 10 and works with Roku Ultra 2020, Roku Express 4K, and Roku Express 4K +. This visual standard for content helps make colors and graphics look more haunting overall. Virtual surround sound is making its debut on Roku products, mimicking a full surround sound system through software optimization. Virtual Surround will be available on launch on the Roku Smart Soundbar and Streambar Pro. We’ll get to work shortly and report on this new feature. As with most Roku features, you don’t have to leave them enabled if you don’t find them useful.
Roku OS 10 is already rolling out on Roku devices, but there will be greater availability in the coming weeks.