Roku releases five new streaming devices and an OS update
Better performance at the same reasonable priceBy Cal Jeffrey
Roku has been hard at work on its line of streaming players. The company announced that preorders start today for five of its devices. The Roku Express, Roku Express+, Roku Streaming Stick, Roku Streaming Stick+, and the Roku Ultra have all received upgrades to their internals. Users can expect faster performance, improved reception, and added convenience features.
To start with, both versions of the Roku Express are benefitting from a chipset that is five times faster. In addition to the new chipset, the Express+ has added composite cable connections for older televisions. Don't worry HDMI is still there.
The Roku Streaming Stick is faster as well but is also getting a boost to connectivity. The Stick will now carry support for 802.11ac dual-band MIMO wireless. It also comes with a voice remote. The remote can control the Stick as well as adjust the volume on compatible televisions. For 4K steaming the standard Stick will not be enough as it is only capable of 1080p.
For that Roku has the Streaming Stick+. Not only is it capable of 4K streaming, but it also has four times the WiFi range of the standard version. Considering that the Plus is only $20 more than the regular streaming stick, users who are even remotely considering upgrading to a 4K display might want to spring for the Plus.
Finally, there is the premium set-top box also known as the Roku Ultra. It features 4K HDR streaming, a headphone jack in the remote, micro SD slot, and USB expansion. In addition to wireless streaming, the Ultra also has an ethernet port for grabbing that extra speed and reliability.
Like with any other electronic component, advanced hardware rarely goes without a software upgrade as well. In conjunction with the new product line, Roku announced it is finishing up Roku OS 8. The new operating system will be responsible for the upcoming voice controls. It has also added a search function to the software.
The search feature not only delivers results from over 500 streaming channels, but it can also grab results from over-the-air television signals as well. Filters can be applied to the results to sort them by cost and other factors. A full list of features is available in its press release.
Roku is holding to its previous pricing structure. At the low-range, the Express and Express+ will go for $29.99 and $39.99 respectively. The Stick will be $49.99, and the Plus version will go for $69.99. Roku Ultra tops off the line as the premium product at $99.99.
Preorders are already underway, and the products will be hitting Walmart, Best Buy, and Amazon around October 8. The Roku Express+ will be available at the same time but is exclusive to Walmart.
Roku OS 8 will have a staggered release. It will first come pre-installed on the new devices. It then launches on Roku TVs in November, with it being available to older Roku devices by the end of the year.