Today, Roku announced a new streamer in its lineup, the Streaming Stick 4K, in addition to a “plus” version of the device with a better remote control. The company also confirmed that Roku OS 10.5 will be rolled out “in the coming weeks”, with new audio features and improved search and voice capabilities for compatible Roku devices.
The Roku Mobile app also features a few new features, including a feature to resolve audio delays on wireless earbuds paired with Roku streamers. We also have a preview of a new wireless soundbar from TCL and a refresh of the Walmart-exclusive Roku Ultra LT.
Roku OS 10.5 and the Roku Mobile App
Sound is a big theme in Roku’s latest release. The mobile app’s new audio/video audio sync feature aims to resolve lag for those using wireless headphones with their Rokus. It works by first trying to fix sync issues automatically, through a headset specific troubleshooter. If the problem persists, users can activate their smartphone camera from the Roku app to visually assist with audio syncing. A preloaded video will play on the screen while prompting you to point the phone’s camera at it so that the app can attempt to sync the audio and video correctly.
The Roku app also allows you to search and save content to your savelist so you can add them whenever and wherever those precious new recommendations come along. Users can also access sound settings, such as night mode and speech intelligibility, for their Roku devices from within the app, eliminating the need to access on-screen menus.
Roku dug deeper into the audio experience, adding support for 3.1 and 5.1 Roku speaker configurations. Streambar and Streambar Pro owners can use their device as a center channel for audio, complemented by Roku wireless speakers on either side (3.1) or alternatively with another pair of rear speakers (5.1).
Roku Voice, the voice assistant that is called up with a button (or hot word on Roku devices with a Voice Remote Pro), also got some modest improvements. When using the voice assistant, a new menu with a tutorial on voice control will appear. There is also wider support for voice input, now including passwords, PINs and other credentials.
Voice and text search both take advantage of new features, including music and podcasts in search results, as well as expanded capabilities to search for content in specific apps. For example, users can only search for comedies within Netflix or for new podcasts from Spotify.
Roku’s live TV option, with over 200 live channels, can now be pinned to the home screen. As in previous versions of Roku OS, users can customize the channel guide to hide or prioritize certain channels.
New Streaming Stick 4K, wireless soundbar and Roku Ultra LT refresh
The new Streaming Stick 4K and Streaming Stick 4K+ replace the Streaming Stick+ in Roku’s lineup. The new streamers have a 30 percent faster boot time (thanks to a new quad-core processor), stronger, faster Wi-Fi (twice faster, Roku says) with dynamic radio and stream optimization, HDR 10+ and Dolby Vision support. The main difference between the two versions is the inclusion of a rechargeable, lost and found siren equipped Voice Remote Pro, which comes with the plus version.
We recommended the Voice Remote Pro in our review a few months ago, especially to owners of Roku-compatible TVs, such as those from TCL and Philips. Adding chargeability, a siren for remote location, headset compatibility, hands-free voice control, and two customizable hotkeys for the TV experience, it’s hard not to consider this $30 upgrade not worth it for a TV of hundreds. dollars. Adding that $20 to a $50 device, as is the case with the Roku Streaming Stick 4K+, is a slightly different proposition to consider. The Streaming Stick 4K is available for pre-order now and costs $49.99, while the plus costs $69.99. The Streaming Stick 4K is expected to ship on October 14, and the Streaming Stick 4K+ will ship three days later on October 17.
Roku has also revamped the Walmart-exclusive Roku Ultra LT. The previous $70 set-top box (often found for $50) shipped with an earlier version of the Voice Remote Pro, Ethernet, and microSD storage. The refresh will expand storage (Roku hasn’t specified how much yet), improve Wi-Fi distance and strength, and add Dolby Vision, essentially putting it on par with the current Roku Ultra. The new Roku Ultra LT will be available “in the coming weeks” from Walmart for $79.99.
Finally, Roku teased an upcoming wireless soundbar made by TCL. The $180 soundbar isn’t very detailed at the moment, but Roku says it will support automatic A/V syncing, although it won’t be compatible with 3.1 or 5.1 speaker setups. However, it supports 2.0 or 2.1 configurations.
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