Even as Google continues to grow its TV user base with its latest Chromecast, Roku remains king of the streaming era. As one of the earliest methods for watching apps like Netflix on the big screen, it's no wonder the company dominates entertainment in the living room. Roku is announcing several new products today, including a streaming gadget, a rechargeable remote, a refreshed soundbar, and an updated version of its OS.
First up is the Express 4K+, designed to replace the aging Roku Premiere as an affordable 4K-capable device. It features a more powerful processor and support for dual-band Wi-Fi, as well as the ability to display HDR, HDR10, and HDR10+ content, all for $39.99. Meanwhile, the Streambar Pro is a refreshed version of the Smart Soundbar from 2019, with out-of-the-box support for virtual surround sound (which the Smart Soundbar will also gain in a software update).
Both of Roku's new devices include the redesigned Voice Remote Pro. It includes customizable shortcuts for saving your favorite apps, a headphone jack for private listening, and switches to a rechargeable battery that you'll need to keep a microUSB cable around to power. Aside from the move away from disposable batteries, the main feature here is hands-free voice commands with a "Hey Roku" activation key. Though this can be converted to push-to-talk using a hardware switch, the inclusion of voice commands means you can ask "where's my remote" to listen for a small chime from the device.
Owners of older Roku products can upgrade to the Voice Remote Pro separately for $29.99. If always-listening gadgets freak you out, Walmart will also be selling an exclusive version of the Express 4K with a standard basic remote for $34.99.
All of this is coupled with a brand-new update to Roku OS 10. In addition to AirPlay 2 for Apple devices, users can now take advantage of faster resume times with certain apps and the option to customize the live TV channel guide from the Roku Channel. Setup has been streamlined, with automatic Wi-Fi band detection and voice entry for specific on-screen keyboards. This update also brings HDR10+ to the Roku Ultra and the previously mentioned virtual surround sound support for the Smart Soundbar.
The Voice Remote Pro is available for purchase from Roku's website starting today and will be available at other retailers next month. The Express 4K+ and Streambar Pro are both up for preorder now and will ship in mid-May. Roku OS 10 begins arriving today on supported devices.