Slightly over a year ago, Roku announced three new streaming devices - the Roku Express, Roku Premiere, and Roku Ultra. The company's lineup became rather confusing, and the 4K/HDR-ready Roku Ultra was a hard sell against the $69 Chromecast Ultra. Today, the company announced a refresh for its entire hardware lineup, alongside a major new OS update.

New hardware

If you're not familiar with Roku's hardware, there is a lot of it. There was the $29 Express and $39 Express+, which were basic 1080p-capable sticks. The $79 Roku Premiere and $99 Premiere+ were the mid-range options, with faster processors and 4K support (the Premiere+ had HDR as well). At the top end was the $129 Ultra, with all the features of the Premiere+, plus Dolby Digital/Digital plus sound decoding and a voice remote.

Now the company is shifting around the lineup again, by dropping the mid-range Premiere and Premiere+ in favor of a more-powerful TV stick. Every model is getting a spec upgrade as well:

  • Roku Express and Express+: These are staying at $29.99/$39.99, but Roku says the new models are five times more powerful than the previous generation. Just like last year, the only difference between the models is that the Express only has HDMI, but the Express+ has HDMI and composite A/V. However, neither model will have a voice remote.
  • Roku Streaming Stick: This replaces the Roku Premiere, and costs $49.99. It has a quad-core processor, 802.11 AC dual-band MIMO wireless, and a voice remote. The stick maxes out at 1080p.
  • Roku Streaming Stick+: This costs $69.99, and replaces the Premiere+. It's essentially Roku's Chromecast Ultra competitor, with 4K/HDR support and "four times the wireless range than the 2016 Roku Streaming Stick." There's also a voice remote.
  • Roku Ultra: The Ultra is getting a price reduction this year, going from $129 to $99. It has everything the Streaming Stick+ has, with an added Ethernet port and microSD card slot. The remote has a headphone jack (similar to a PS4/Xbox One controller) for private listening, in addition to the usual voice functionality.

All these models will be available for pre-order starting today from Walmart, Best Buy, Amazon, and other retailers. The Streaming Stick+ is exclusive to Walmart, for some reason.

Roku OS 8

All of the devices announced today (as well as all former Roku models, by the end of the year) run Roku OS 8. The new update focuses on support for over-the-air antennas, with a new 'Smart Guide' that integrates local broadcast data (via an antenna) with streaming options, for easier content discovery. Roku search results also now include over-the-air content.

Voice control is another highlight feature, with all the above devices (minus the Express/Express+) shipping with voice remotes. Similar to Fire TV OS and Android TV, voice control can be used to switch inputs, tune to a local broadcast channel, launch a streaming app, and more. You can also use the Roku app on iOS and Android as a voice remote, and Roku has been working on improving natural language understanding.

Similar to the Apple TV, Roku is also adding support for TV Everywhere (TVE) single sign-on, so you won't have to repeatedly enter your cable credentials to access content. Finally, the redesigned Roku 4K Spotlight Channel makes it easier to discover 4K/HDR content available for Roku devices. You can see the entire changelog here.

Press Release

Roku, Inc. (NASDAQ: ROKU) today announced five new streaming players giving people who enjoy TV better ways to connect to the streaming entertainment they love. The new line up includes a range of player models that offer better performance, improved wireless reception, new convenience features and greater value than ever before. Starting at just $29.99 MSRP, the new more powerful Roku Express makes HD streaming easy while those who want Roku’s ultimate player can get the new lower-priced $99.99 MSRP Roku Ultra. In addition, today the company also unveiled the newest version of its operating system, Roku OS 8, in a separate announcement.

“Our new streaming player line up provides performance, price and features to meet our users needs so they can sit back, relax and enjoy their TV viewing experience even more,” said Chas Smith, general manager of Roku TVs and players. “Consumers will love our new sleek Roku Streaming Stick+ with an innovative advanced wireless receiver that gives up to four times the wireless range and a remote that controls TV volume and power.  It makes 4K and HDR streaming simple.”

Roku Express and Roku Express+:
Great for those who are looking to stream to the TV for the first time or extend their Roku OS experience to other TVs in the home. The second-generation Roku Express and Roku Express+ are five times more powerful than their predecessors and start at only $29.99 MSRP.

The Roku Express+ is great for classic TVs. It offers the same streaming experience, with options to connect via HDMI® or composite A/V ports (red/yellow/white jacks). $39.99 MSRP, exclusively at Walmart.

Roku Streaming Stick and Roku Streaming Stick+:
Small, powerful and portable for those who are on the move or want their streaming player hidden behind their TV. Features quad-core processor and 802.11 AC dual-band MIMO wireless. Now comes with a voice remote that includes TV power and volume buttons that can control compatible TV models and the Roku Streaming Stick together. The Roku Streaming Stick offers exceptional HD streaming. $49.99 MSRP.

Roku Streaming Stick+ boasts exceptional wireless performance with its advanced wireless receiver that is innovatively built into the power cord. This new model offers up to four times the wireless range than the 2016 Roku Streaming Stick to minimize buffering. It combines brilliant 4K Ultra HD and HDR picture quality with the portability of the popular stick form factor. Great for HD, 4K and 4K HDR up to 60 frames per second (fps) streaming. Channels launch quickly to get to favorite shows fast. $69.99 MSRP

Roku Ultra:
Our most powerful and feature-packed player offers our best wireless performance and can stream HD, 4K and 4K HDR with up to 60 fps. The Roku Ultra features an ethernet port for wired connectivity and a micro SD slot to help speed up streaming channel load times. With our new remote, consumers can power up and change volume on the TV, plus use voice to find favorite shows. There’s also a headphone jack for private listening and a remote finder button that helps locate lost remotes. New lower $99.99 MSRP.

The Roku platform provides streamers with access to 500,000 movies and TV episodes plus more than 5,000 channels. The Roku Channel, which launched just weeks ago, features hundreds of Hollywood hits and more with no fees, subscriptions or logins required.

Availability
The new line of streaming players will be available for pre-order beginning today from Roku, Walmart, Best Buy, Amazon and other retailers; and is expected to be in stores around Oct. 8. Roku Express+ is available exclusively at Walmart beginning Oct. 8. Customers who purchase a new Roku player will receive a $10 Vudu credit towards a rental or purchase. Offer expires 10/31/17.

About Roku, Inc.
Roku Inc. (NASDAQ: ROKU) pioneered streaming for the TV and aspires to power every TV in the world. As of the end of June 2017, Roku OS powered TV streaming for 15+ million monthly active accounts which streamed nearly 7 billion hours of video and music in the first half of 2017. Roku is known for streaming innovation and high customer engagement, offering content providers and video advertisers the best way to reach streaming audiences. Roku streaming players and Roku TV models are available in 10 countries through direct retail sales and licensing arrangements with TV OEMs and service operators. The company was founded by Anthony Wood, inventor of the DVR. Roku is headquartered in Los Gatos, Calif. U.S.

Roku and Streaming Stick are registered trademarks of Roku, Inc. in the U.S. and in other countries.

Press Release

Roku, Inc. (NASDAQ: ROKU) today announced Roku® OS 8, delivering enhanced features that add convenience and value to a Roku TV user’s streaming experience. With a focus on bridging the gap between free, local broadcast TV received via HDTV antennas and streaming, the company unveiled several new Roku TV features today, including a Smart Guide that shows over-the-air (OTA) broadcast TV and streaming options to help customers search for, find and discover entertainment. Other new features included in the update allow for easier search and voice control, such as enhanced voice commands allowing a user to launch streaming channels, switch inputs or control their Roku TV; TV Everywhere (TVE) single sign-on to eliminate having to enter login credentials multiple times; an updated 4K Spotlight Channel and more.

“At Roku, we love TV and we’re focused on making it better for everyone,” said Ilya Asnis, senior vice president of Roku OS at Roku. “Roku OS 8 delivers on our key pillars of ease, content and value. These new features make the entertainment experience more enjoyable for our customers, while solving some of the biggest pain points when watching TV today.”

SEAMLESS ENTERTAINMENT FOR ROKU TV USERS USING OVER-THE-AIR ANTENNAS

  • Smart Guide: An electronic program guide for Roku TVs that seamlessly integrates information for local broadcast TV via an antenna with streaming options allowing customers to search for, find and discover entertainment. The guide provides program information for local antenna broadcast TV channels from seven days in the past to up to 14 days in the future. Smart Guide also integrates the More Ways to Watch feature so users can see additional streaming options, such as: watch a movie or show from the beginningsee more episodes or browse similar entertainment. Over time, Smart Guide will even identify favorite broadcast channels available over-the-air by placing most viewed channels at the top of the program guide.
  • Roku Search for Over-the-Air Content: Local antenna broadcast TV options are now included in Roku Search results for Roku TV customers who use a TV antenna to receive free local broadcast TV. Roku search already spans across 500+ streaming channels and now, when a TV antenna is connected, will include results for local broadcast TV along with streaming options sorted by what is free or lowest cost for the viewer. Users can also search for antenna TV content via the Roku mobile app.
  • Voice Control: Roku TVs now feature voice controls to make it easy to switch inputs, tune to a local antenna broadcast channel, launch a streaming channel and more. Voice controls for Roku TVs can be used via enhanced remotes with the microphone button or through the free Roku mobile app for iOS® and Android™ mobile devices.
  • Private Listening for Over-the-Air Content: Roku TV users with an antenna connected to their TV can now use private listening to hear audio for local antenna broadcast content either using their mobile device via the Roku mobile app or through the headphone jack on the remote control on select Roku TV models. This feature is also available for streaming.
  • Fast TV Start: Allows a Roku TV to start quickly and launch a streaming or antenna TV channel in seconds simply using a voice command. For example, a user can say “launch Hulu” and the TV will turn on and open the Hulu streaming channel. Or, if they say, “tune to ABC,” the TV will turn on and tune to the local ABC station if an antenna is connected to the Roku TV.

QUICKER, EASIER ACCESS TO CONTENT FOR ALL ROKU DEVICES

  • Enhanced Voice Features: Voice search now includes natural language understanding and can search for movies, shows, actors and directors, or even launch streaming channels, in a more conversational tone. For example, a user can say things like, “show me movies with Tom Hanks,” “launch Hulu,” or even more detailed searches such as “show me comedies with Will Ferrell.”
  • TV Everywhere Single Sign-On: TVE single sign-on, available for pay TV customers, eliminates the need to log in to TVE channels repeatedly. Customers who subscribe to Dish, Cox, AT&T and hundreds of other providers will enjoy the convenience of single sign-on when using 30 TVE channels. More providers are expected to be added to the feature over time.
  • 4K Spotlight Channel Update: The redesigned Roku 4K Spotlight Channel makes it easier than ever to find 4K, HDR and Dolby Vision™ content available on the Roku platform for players and TVs that support these standards. The 4K Spotlight Channel now features a new navigation menu to help users quickly select the type of content they wish to view, inclusion of more content categories to easily browse by genre, and the option to choose from multiple streaming channels if a movie or show is available from more than one provider.

In addition, a variety of other enhancements and bug fixes were also included. Roku OS 8 release notes are available here.

Availability
Roku OS 8 will begin rolling out to Roku players in early October, and Roku TV models beginning in November. The software update is expected to rollout to all Roku devices by the end of the year.

About Roku, Inc.
Roku Inc. (NASDAQ: ROKU) pioneered streaming for the TV and aspires to power every TV in the world. As of the end of June 2017, Roku OS powered TV streaming for 15+ million monthly active accounts which streamed nearly 7 billion hours of video and music in the first half of 2017. Roku is known for streaming innovation and high customer engagement, offering content providers and video advertisers the best way to reach streaming audiences. Roku streaming players and Roku TV models are available in 10 countries through direct retail sales and licensing arrangements with TV OEMs and service operators. The company was founded by Anthony Wood, inventor of the DVR. Roku is headquartered in Los Gatos, Calif. U.S.

Roku is a registered trademark of Roku, Inc. in the U.S. and in other countries.