Today has been a big day for streaming box maker Roku: the San Jose-based company has announced new products and software features, including another entry into the world of home theater audio and an update to a popular existing device that adds some of the most sought-after features.
First, Roku makes a few changes to its high-end streaming box, the Roku Ultra. It still costs $ 99 and most of its features are the same. So what’s new? Well, the wireless signal has long been a thorn in Roku’s side – many households have weak or suboptimally located routers. To that end, Roku claims that the new Ultra manages 50 percent more wireless range. It also adds Bluetooth connectivity for the first time, so you’ll be able to use wireless headsets and the like.
The big addition, however, is the introduction of support for Dolby Vision HDR (and Dolby Atmos as well). We’ve tapped some previous Roku devices to only support the HDR-10 standard, but this update means that Ultra can now deliver good HDR for a range of content that is optimized for Dolby Vision.
Second, Roku introduced what he calls a “2-in-1” soundtrack called the Streambar – which isn’t the company’s first soundtrack to be clear. This is 2-in-1, as it doubles both the standard, apartment-ready, better TV speakers and Roku’s Ultra-like streaming device, which can actually deliver content to your TV. In terms of streaming quality, the Streambar is 4K and HDR, which you would expect from a device released in 2020, and connects to the TV via HDMI (provided your TV supports ARC).
Streambar has four drivers – two facing forward and one pointing at an angle to the left and right. And if you’re looking for a full home cinema experience, Dolby surround sound, you can add extra speakers made by Roku and a subwoofer.
Finally, Roku announced Roku OS 9.4, which among other things adds support for AirPlay 2 and HomeKit for “4K device selection”. Roku also says The Roku Channel, its free ad-supported TV network, will receive Android and iOS apps.
The two new hardware products are expected to launch on October 15, but pre-orders are open today. Roku OS 9.4 will hit supported devices in the coming days, but Roku says Roku OS TVs may have to wait a little longer
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