Roku has announced two substantial pieces of news today via its official press room, including a completely new line of streaming media devices and a brand new operating system to match. The streaming platforms are reportedly around 5 times more powerful than the current run of devices from the company, in addition to supporting up to 4 times the wireless range. Meanwhile, the new Roku OS 8 adds enhanced features that are intended to, as the company puts it, bridge the gap between traditional over-the-air media and media streaming services. As to availability, the new Roku streaming devices are already available for pre-order, as of today, from Walmart, Best Buy, Amazon, the company itself, or other select retailers. They are expected to be in stores as of October 8 and, up until October 31, will include a $10 Vudu credit.
With regard to the new hardware in question, each is meant to satisfy a different ….. of the market. Each is also designed with a more modern stick form-factor than previous models. First up is the company’s new Roku Express and Express Plus. The two devices represent the budget end of the buyer spectrum. It offers the above-mentioned performance feature for users, in an affordable package. The Roku Express is expected to start out at only $29.99, while the Roku Express Plus has an MSRP of $39.99 and includes the ability to be connected to a TV through composite A/V ports. The latter will also be sold at Walmart exclusively. Next in the lineup is Roku’s Streaming Stick and Roku Streaming Stick Plus. Those are aimed more directly at the mid-level market and start out at $49.99 and $69.99, respectively. Each comes with the improved performance but also ramps up on wireless connectivity thanks to dual-band MIMO technologies. However, the more expensive model also includes an advanced wireless receiver built right into the power cable, as well as support for 4K and 4K HDR content streaming at 60 frames per second. Finally, Roku announced its new Roku Ultra, which adds to the features of the previous models by including an ethernet port, a microSD card slot, a headphone jack, and a brand new remote that can also control some television models. Moreover, the remote has added voice features, so users can search for content by voice. Meanwhile, a remote finder button on the device will help users locate the remote if it becomes lost. The Roku Ultra is expected to cost around $99.99.
The new players are also said to be arriving with a brand new operating system called Roku OS 8. The new operating system includes several new features and will roll out to Roku players at some point near the beginning of this month, while Roku-enabled TVs will see it sometime in November. First up in the update, users with Roku-enabled TVs will now have access to a Smart Guide, where they can see what’s currently playing on over-the-air channels. The feature displays television shows from the seven previous days, in addition to 14 days of future broadcast programming. Roku Search, in the meantime, will also include results from the Smart Guide for Roku TV users who have an antenna attached. Beyond that, the enhanced Roku Search will also display results ordered by the lowest cost to the viewer.
Furthermore, Roku TVs will now feature voice controls for everything from input switching to service launching and searching. That’s made possible through either the associated smartphone application or a new microphone-enabled remote. Meanwhile, voice features have been enhanced to better respond to natural verbal input and users can also listen to audio from a stream through their mobile devices. Taking things a step further, Roku has also improved startup time through voice commands and performance enhancements, as well as streamlining the sign-in process across a variety of subscription broadcast providers by eliminating the need to sign into each individual channel. Finally, a new 4K spotlight channel has been added so that users can find the highest quality content available quickly, and several bug fixes have been implemented. As stated above, all of the new features will be included with the new Roku streaming devices, with other devices getting the updates later. Anybody curious to find out more can, in the meantime, hit the source links below for more information.