Roku Introduces New 4K Streaming Stick Bundles, Voice & Mobile Software Update – TechCrunch

Weeks after Amazon introduced an updated Fire TV lineup that included, for the first time, their own televisions, Roku today announces its own competitive products in a race to capture consumers’ attention ahead of the holiday shopping season. Its updates include a new Roku Streaming Stick 4K and Roku Streaming Stick 4K +, the latter shipping with Roku’s new hands-free voice remote. The company is also revamping the Roku Ultra LT, a Walmart-exclusive version of its high-end player. And it announced the latest software update, Roku OS 10.5, which adds updated voice features, a new live TV channel for home screens, and other minor changes.

The new 4K Streaming Stick is based on the four-year-old Roku. product, the Streaming Stick +, as it offers the same type of stick form factor designed to hide behind the TV. This version, however, has a faster processor that allows the device to boot up to 30% faster and load channels faster, Roku claims. Wi-Fi has also been improved, offering faster speeds and smart algorithms that help ensure users are put on the correct band for the best performance in their homes where network congestion is an increasingly common problem. especially with the remote work lifestyle induced by the pandemic. The new Stick adds support for Dolby Vision and HDR 10+, giving it the nickname “4K.”

This version ships with the standard Roku voice remote for the same price of $ 49.99. For comparison, Amazon is new Fire TV Stick Max with a faster processor and faster Wi-Fi costs $ 54.99. However, Amazon is touting the addition of Wi-Fi 6 and support for its game streaming service Luna as reasons to upgrade.

Roku’s new 4K + Streaming Stick adds Roku Voice Remote Pro to the package. This is the new Roku remote control, released in the spring, which offers rechargeable, a lost remote finder, and hands-free voice support through its midfield microphone, so you can say things like “hey Roku, turn on the TV” or “start Netflix” instead of pressing buttons . . Purchased separately, this remote costs $ 29.99. The bundle retails for $ 69.99, which translates to a $ 10 discount for purchasing the device and remote control themselves.

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Both versions of the Streaming Stick will be sold online and in stores starting in October.

The Roku Ultra LT ($ 79.99), built exclusively for Walmart, has also been updated with a faster processor, more storage, a new Wi-Fi radio with up to 50% more range, support for Dolby Vision, streaming audio. via Bluetooth and a built-in ethernet port.

Additionally, Roku notes that TCL will become the first device partner to use the reference designs it unveiled at CES for wireless soundbars, with its upcoming Roku TV wireless soundbar. This device connects via Wi-Fi to the TV and works with the Roku remote, and it will hit major retailers in October, where it will sell for $ 179.99.

The other big news is the release of Roku’s OS 10.5 software. The update isn’t making any dramatic changes this time around, instead focusing primarily on voice and mobile enhancements.

The most notable consumer-facing change is the ability to add a new live TV channel to your home screen, allowing you to more easily launch The Roku Channel’s 200+ free live TV channels, rather than of having to visit Roku’s free streaming hub directly first, then navigate to the Live TV section. This could make the Roku feel more like a traditional TV for cable cutters ditching their TV guide for the first time.

Other tweaks include expanded support for starting channels using voice commands, and most are now supported; new voice search and podcast playback with a more visual “music and podcast” row and Spotify as a launch partner; the ability to control sound settings in the mobile application; a voice help guide added in settings; and additional sound configuration options for Roku speakers and soundbars (for example, using the speaker pairs and the soundbar on a left / center / right side) or in a full 5.1 surround sound system).

Also new is a useful feature for entering emails and passwords on setup screens using voice commands. Roku says it sends the voice data off-device to its voice-to-text partner, and the audio is anonymized. Roku does not obtain the password or store it as it goes directly to the channel partner. While there are always privacy concerns with voice data, the addition is a huge plus from an accessibility standpoint.

Image credits: Year

One of the more hidden, but potentially useful changes coming in OS 10.5 is an advanced A / V sync feature that lets you use your smartphone’s camera to help Roku make further refinements to audio delay when using headphones. wireless for listening. television. This feature is offered through the mobile app.

The Roku mobile app in the US is also getting another feature with the OS 10.5 update with the addition of a new Home tab for browsing collections of movies and shows of all genres, and a “List to Save, which it works as a way to bookmark shows or movies that you may have heard about, such as when chatting with friends, and you want to remember to watch them later when you are at home in front of the TV.

The software update will roll out to Roku devices over the next several weeks. It usually makes its way to Roku players first and then rolled out to TVs.

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