As we covered earlier today, Roku’s biggest “cherry on the cake” update for these falls days of 2017 has been the new and highly compact streaming media 4K HDR stick that the company has unveiled. The device, known as the Roku Streaming Stick+, starts shipping as of October 8th and will feature the same full HDR10 + 4K UHD support as some of Roku’s premium 4K set-top media boxes, just with many less peripherals for connectivity. It will basically be a 4K Roku TV box lite in stick form.
However, while being the coolest new revelation from Roku, the Streaming Stick+ is just one of a number of cool new consumer-friendly updates from this growing company. Others include some major hardware and software improvements to existing products along with some excellent price reductions for some of them.
Starting off with Roku’s streaming media sticks, we already covered the new 4K HDR device here in case you’d like more details on it. As for the company’s low cost older stick streamers, they’re also getting their own cool updates. The 1080p Roku Streaming stick that currently costs $49.99 for this year’s model now gets a processor update for what will be 50% better performance according to Roku. Its remote control is also getting some useful voice functionality of the same kind as that found in the remotes for Roku’s premium set-top boxes. Power and volume controls for controlling these settings on a TV are also being included in the new Roku 1080p sticks.
As for Roku’s small full set-top boxes, called respectively by rising order of price and features the Roku Express and Roku Express Plus, they too will be receiving processor updates with something like the same 50% performance boost being promised. These little boxes will stay at the same prices, though the Roku Express will no offers a new $39.99 version (as opposed to its normal $29.99 price tag) that can connect to composite ports in older televisions.
Then we come down to the Roku Ultra, which is the company’s flagship premiere set-top 4K HDR-capable streaming media box. It won’t be getting any major hardware updates but its price tag is now sitting at an excellent $99. This is $30 less than what this device cost last year and a solid $80 less than the price of the new 4K-capable Apple TV. The Roku Ultra doesn’t offer the same Dolby Vision HDR support as the Apple TV now does but it still comes jam packed with thousands of media apps and what is arguably a larger selection of ultra HD content apps than its Apple rival. That’s a fairly good deal for a streamer that costs nearly half the price less than the Apple TV rival. Roku Ultra’s remote even comes with a “Find my Remote” feature and private listening integration via headphones.
Finally, as for the Roku TV platform itself, it too will be getting some interface updates and additional content offerings on top of its already enormous load of streaming media options which amount to a total of 5000 different content channels and some 500,000 different pieces of content (most of them in HD though). On the other hand, Unlike Apple TV with its now 4K-capable iTunes, Roku doesn’t have its own native content platform for either 4K UHD or HD entertainment. It instead depends on all those third party apps and especially on key content sources like Netflix, Amazon Prime, Hulu, HBO Go and others.
The single biggest Roku TV smart system updates for the 2017 version of the platform are those which have to do with over-the-air-TV. The new OS 8 version in the devices covered above will now offer search integration for both its own diverse streaming content versions of programming and their over-the-air TV versions if they’re available to your own television. The new Roku Smart TV update is free and will be coming to all Roku TV-enabled devices (including some awesome Roku 4K HDR TVs) for this year or last year throughout October and November.
These new Roku developments are almost certainly coming at least in part due to the increasingly heated competitive atmosphere of new developments and products for 4K ultra HD set-top boxes. First we have Amazon and its release of a new Fire TV dongle that offers 4K at 60fps with high dynamic range support in a more compact and affordable package than has ever been the case previously from an Amazon product. Then there’s Apple with its new Apple TV 4K set-top box which, while pricey, offers some of the best UHD content playback specs we’ve yet seen from any streaming box by any manufacturer on the market. In other words, while Roku’s existing 2017 roster of set-top and streaming media products has been excellent, the company still has its hands full with increasingly robust competitor offerings.
Story by 4k.com