Weeks after Amazon launched an up to date Hearth TV lineup that included, for the primary time, its own TVs, Roku in the present day is saying its personal aggressive merchandise in a race to seize shoppers’ consideration earlier than the vacation procuring season. Its updates embody a brand new Roku Streaming Stick 4K and Roku Streaming Stick 4K+ — the latter which ships with Roku’s newer hands-free voice distant. The corporate can be refreshing the Roku Extremely LT, a Walmart-exclusive model of its high-end participant. And it introduced the newest software program replace, Roku OS 10.5, which provides up to date voice options, a brand new Reside TV channel for house screens, and different minor adjustments.
The brand new Streaming Stick 4K builds on Roku’s four-year-old product, the Streaming Stick+, because it provides the identical kind of stick kind issue designed to be hidden behind the TV set. This model, nevertheless, has a sooner processor which permits the machine in addition as much as 30% sooner and cargo channels extra shortly, Roku claims. The Wi-Fi can be improved, providing sooner speeds and sensible algorithms that assist be certain that customers get on the appropriate band for the very best efficiency of their houses the place community congestion is an more and more frequent drawback — particularly with the pandemic-induced distant work way of life. The brand new Stick provides assist for Dolby Imaginative and prescient and HDR 10+, giving it the “4K” moniker.
This model ships with Roku’s customary voice distant for a similar value of $49.99. For comparability, Amazon’s new Hearth TV Stick Max with a sooner processor and speedier Wi-Fi is $54.99. Nonetheless, Amazon is touting the addition of Wi-Fi 6 and assist for its recreation streaming service, Luna, as causes to improve.
Roku’s new Streaming Stick 4K+ provides the Roku Voice Distant Professional to the bundle as a substitute. That is Roku’s new distant, launched in the spring, that gives rechargeability, a misplaced distant finder, and hands-free voice assist through its mid-field microphone, so you possibly can simply say issues like “hey Roku, activate the TV,” or “launch Netflix,” as a substitute of urgent buttons. Purchased individually, this distant is $29.99. The bundle sells for $69.99, which interprets to a $10 low cost over shopping for the stick and distant by themselves.
Each variations of the Streaming Stick might be offered on-line and in shops beginning in October.
The Roku Extremely LT ($79.99), constructed for Walmart solely, has additionally been refreshed with a sooner processor, extra storage, a brand new Wi-Fi radio with as much as 50% longer vary, assist for Dolby Imaginative and prescient, Bluetooth audio streaming, and a built-in ethernet port.
Plus, Roku notes that TCL will change into the primary machine companion to make use of the reference designs it launched at CES for wi-fi soundbars, with its upcoming Roku TV wi-fi soundbar. This machine connects over Wi-Fi to the TV and works with the Roku distant, and can arrive at main retailers in October the place it can promote for $179.99.
The opposite huge information is Roku’s OS 10.5 software program launch. The replace isn’t making any dramatic adjustments this time round, however is as a substitute centered largely on voice and cell enhancements.
Essentially the most noticeable consumer-facing change is the flexibility so as to add a brand new Reside TV channel to your own home display which helps you to extra simply launch The Roku Channel’s 200+ free reside TV channels, as a substitute of getting to first go to Roku’s free streaming hub straight, then navigate to the Reside TV part. This might make the Roku really feel extra like conventional TV for cord-cutters abandoning their TV information for the primary time.
Different tweaks embody expanded assist for launching channels utilizing voice instructions, with most now supported; new voice search and podcast playback with a extra visible “music and podcast” row and Spotify as a launch companion; the flexibility to regulate sound settings within the cell app; an added Voice Assist information in settings; and extra sound configuration choices for Roku audio system and soundbars (e.g. utilizing the speaker pairs and soundbar in a left/heart/proper) or in full 5.1 encompass sound system).
A helpful function for getting into in electronic mail and passwords in set-up screens utilizing voice instructions is new, too. Roku says it sends the voice knowledge off-device to its speech-to-text companion, and the audio is anonymized. Roku doesn’t get the password or retailer it, because it goes on to the channel companion. Whereas there are at all times privateness issues with voice knowledge, the addition is an enormous perk from an accessibility standpoint.
One of many extra under-the-radar, however probably helpful adjustments coming in OS 10.5 is a sophisticated A/V sync function that permits you to use the smartphone digicam to assist Roku make additional refinements to the audio delay when utilizing wi-fi headphones to take heed to the TV. This function is obtainable by way of the cell app.
The Roku cell app within the U.S. can be gaining one other function with the OS 10.5 replace with the addition of a brand new Residence tab for searching collections of films and reveals throughout genres, and a “Save Listing, which features as a technique to bookmark reveals or motion pictures you would possibly hear about — like when chatting with mates — and wish to bear in mind to look at later if you’re again house in entrance of the TV.
The software program replace will roll out to Roku gadgets over the weeks forward. It usually involves Roku gamers first, then rolls out to TVs.