Roku refreshed its complete streaming gadget lineup at present, updating units with higher processors and different enhancements. The corporate can also be rolling out Roku OS eight to all the new units and plenty of older ones. OS eight provides search and voice management options and brings the over-the-air and over-the-top viewing and looking out experiences nearer collectively.
The brand new units embody the Roku Specific, the Roku Specific+, the Roku Streaming Stick, the Roku Streaming Stick+, and the Roku Excessive. All have been extant merchandise which have merely been refreshed. Gone are the Roku Premiere and Roku Premiere+, which sat in the midst of Roku’s lineup final yr. The Roku Streaming Stick+ successfully fills the hole.
The Roku Specific and Specific+ retail at $29.99 and $39.99. The previous continues to be the identical previous gadget, however with a chipset that Roku says is 5 instances quicker than what we noticed in 2016’s mannequin. The Roku Specific+ affords composite cable connections for older TVs, along with HDMI. It’s accessible at retail completely at Walmart.
The Roku Streaming Stick additionally will get the improved efficiency and provides assist for 802.11ac dual-band MIMO wi-fi. The Stick comes with a voice-control distant, which will also be used to regulate the TV’s quantity, assuming the TV is appropriate. It goes for $49.99. Nevertheless, it is capped out at 1080p HD. To go to 4K or for HDR assist, it’s a must to pay $69.99 for the Roku Streaming Stick+. The Streaming Stick+ additionally comes with an improved wi-fi receiver that Roku claims affords 4 instances the Wi-Fi vary you’d get within the base Streaming Stick.
On the high finish of the lineup is the Roku Extremely. Promoting for $99.99, it may possibly additionally stream 4K and HDR. Its distant has a headphone jack, and the gadget itself has a micro SD slot and USB for storage growth. It additionally comes with an ethernet port, whereas the opposite units are wi-fi solely. Final yr’s mannequin didn’t assist Dolby Imaginative and prescient, and the announcement of the up to date mannequin sadly makes no point out of added Dolby Imaginative and prescient assist.
Dolby Imaginative and prescient is one in all two competing HDR codecs. It offers superior picture high quality to the opposite format (HDR-10), however it isn’t as broadly supported, partly on account of licensing charges. Some of the units competing with the Roku Extremely do assist Dolby Imaginative and prescient, together with Google’s Chromecast Extremely and the Apple TV 4K. The Amazon Fireplace TV, Xbox One S, PlayStation four, and PlayStation four Professional solely assist HDR-10.
Streams in every single place
Quite a bit has been occurring within the OTT streaming gadget house recently; Apple introduced a brand new, 4K model of its Apple TV earlier this month, and Amazon up to date its Fireplace TV streaming field final week. The content material facet of TV streaming has additionally been energetic. Apple is reportedly investing greater than $1 billion in unique content material yearly. Each Hulu and YouTube have launched cable-replacement companies for the reason that Roku units have been final up to date, and a few TV networks have launched or plan to launch their very own streaming companies. They embody CBS, which premiered Star Trek: Discovery completely on CBS All Entry final week. In the meantime, Disney (dad or mum to ABC) has mentioned it is going to launch a brand new service in 2019.
Regardless of these actions, broadcast TV continues to be alive and nicely—many cable cord-cutters nonetheless watch over-the-air HD broadcasts from native community associates—so Roku has integrated broadcast streams extra cleanly into the Roku’s consumer interface with its Good Information function. With Roku OS eight, now you can additionally seek for over-the-air exhibits with Roku’s search perform and use voice instructions whereas watching that programming. Like Apple TV, Roku OS eight features a single sign-on for OTT apps from varied channels that require authentication with a cable supplier. This implies, in principle, that you do not have to maintain re-entering your cable supplier’s password for every new app. Not each app will assist it, after all.
Roku’s pricing and broadcast TV assist place it downmarket from the Apple TV, however these units’ internals are seemingly not as quick, and none of them assist Dolby Imaginative and prescient. Nonetheless, Apple TV made some selections—like a excessive worth, lack of Dolby Atmos assist, and strange picture processing choices—which have left the door open for opponents like Roku and Amazon. Roku stays the most well-liked devoted TV streaming platform.
Disclosure: I labored at CBS Interactive in 2014 and 2015, and a few of my work concerned CBS All Entry and Star Trek: Discovery.