Roku has unveiled a number of new media players, including the budget Roku Express and the top-spec Roku Ultra. Here is what you need to know.
Californian company Roku has just unveiled a number of new media playback devices, taking the total line-up to six. The thinking is that the old number system implied devices with a higher number were newer, hence no more numbers. Here is exactly what each device offers and the price.
Roku Express and Roku Express+
Gone is the Roku 1. Instead the entry-level Roku experience is taken care of by the Roku Express and Express+, both of which offer full 1080p HD streaming (none of that 720p ‘HD ready’ malarkey), an IR remote and a faster processor for a snappier menu experience. The device itself is 75 per cent smaller than its Roku 1 predecessor. The ‘Plus’ version is exactly the same but has a composite connection for standard definition televisions and an A/V cable. You know, the lead with red, white and yellow leads.
Roku Express: US$29.99 | Roku Express+: US$39.99
For portability, the Roku Stick has you covered. The biggest change is the fact it has an eight times more powerful processor for faster performance while browsing its operating system, in addition to a remote control and dual-band MIMI wireless support. And, yes, it is still the size of a USB stick so taking it between televisions is as easy as ever.
Roku Stick: US$49.99
Roku Premiere and Roku Premiere+
The Roku Premiere and Roku Premiere+ are mid-range offerings that boast 4k support at up to 60 frames per second, bettering the 4k at 30 frames per second of the Amazon Fire TV Stick. Both also get a quad core processor and MIMO dual-band wireless connectivity. Usefully, the Premiere devices can upscale content so that 720- stuff can become 1080p, or 1080p can become 4k on a 4k-capable television. Those who opt for the Premiere+ will also get an ethernet port and a microSD slot, in case you want to rely on a wired connection and use a microSD card for storage.
Roku Premiere: US$79.99 | Roku Premiere+: US$99.99
Atop the new Roku range is the Roku Ultra, which has 4k and HDR support (your television has to support both), quad core processor, Dolby Digital / Dolby Digital Plus surround sound, remote control with a headphone jack so you can watch TV late at night without upsetting anyone, voice search support so you can search using your vocal chords, microSD slot, ethernet port, USB port and an optical-out. It can even help you locate the remote if you lose it – you just have to press a button on the set-top box and it emits an alarm sound from the remote – and has buttons for gaming.
Roku Ultra: US$129.99
When will the new Roku players go on sale?
The 9th of October is when they will start gracing letterboxes in America. You can pre-order each one of the new devices now from various retailers including Amazon and Best Buy.
What else is new?
The aforementioned night mode, which allows you to watch TV at night with headphones. Roku Search, meanwhile, lets you search for a specific movie, TV show, actor or director and will show the content available and where it is free or the lowest price.
Will the UK get the new Roku devices?
The official PR spiel says: “Today’s launch is focussed on the North American market. We often launch products in different markets. Our current streaming player line-up in the UK offers consumers an easy way to stream entertainment to their TVs.” So no official word on a UK launch, but we doubt Brits will be left out for too long.
What is a Roku media streaming device?
A device that turns gives a television certain smart functions and access to the likes of HBO Go, Netflix and Amazon Video, even if it lacks smart TV functionality. So if your current TV is unable to stream House of Cards, the Roku player would change that. Bear in mind you will need to subscribe to each service individually to use them.
What content do I get?
Roku says its players have access to 3,500 streaming channels including 350,000 movies and TV episodes. That should keep you somewhat busy while you wait for The Grand Tour.