Roku’s introducing a trio of new devices today, led by the new $39.99 Express 4K Plus streaming device. Shipping in mid-May, the Express 4K Plus basically replaces the Roku Premiere as the company’s entry-level 4K player. It now has a faster processor, dual-band Wi-Fi, and increased internal storage. Plus, Roku says you can now attach a Micro-USB-to-Ethernet adapter if you prefer a wired connection. The Express 4K Plus is also the first Roku player to support HDR10+, which will come to the Roku Ultra as well after a future firmware update.
A stripped-down “Express 4K” player will be sold exclusively at Walmart in the US for $35. This model will also make its way to Canada, Mexico, and the UK. The only real difference is that it ships with a basic Roku remote instead of the voice remote that comes with the Plus SKU.
Next up is the first Roku remote with a rechargeable built-in battery. We knew this one was coming, and you’ll be able to buy the Roku Voice Remote Pro starting today for $29.99. It includes a built-in headphone jack for private audio, two customizable shortcut buttons, TV controls, and, in another first for Roku, it features mid-field microphones for hands-free voice commands.
By default, the mics will listen for the “Hey Roku” hot phrase. But there’s a slider button right on the remote that turns off the always-listening mode. (If you do so, you can still hold down the microphone button on the front of the remote and speak a command.) One reason for maybe leaving the mics on? You can call out to the remote with a “Hey Roku, find my remote,” and it’ll make a sound to reveal its location in the couch cushions.
And the last of the new Roku products is what the company is calling its Streambar Pro, described as “an evolution of the Roku Smart Soundbar.” The Smart Soundbar came with Roku’s streaming software built in, and this refreshed hardware “now includes a Roku voice remote with personal shortcut buttons and private listening, Roku headphones, and the new virtual surround feature for $179.99.” (Virtual surround will also come to the Smart Soundbar with a software update.)
The Streambar Pro will be available to order from Roku’s website in late May and should start arriving at major retailers in June. Roku still doesn’t face any real competition from Amazon in this combined soundbar / streaming player category, though Apple is rumored to be experimenting with a product similar in concept.
Roku’s player lineup now consists of:
Roku Streaming Stick Plus
Roku Express 4K Plus
Roku Streambar Pro