Roku’s new $40 Premiere and $50 Premiere+ provide 4K streaming on a budget

Roku has announced a pair of new streaming media players that make 4K streaming more affordable than ever. The new Roku Premiere and Roku Premiere+, which differ only by their remotes, offer 4K streaming and HDR for the staggeringly low price of $39.99 and $49.99, respectively. Roku has also announced that their Roku Ultra will now come with headphones in the box and that they’re adding support for the Google Assistant.

The new Roku Premiere has claimed the title of being the cheapest 4K streaming device. The new model appears to be the same shape and size as their budget Roku Express model and has replaced the larger square Roku Premiere that was introduced in 2016. It supports 4K UHD streaming at 60fps, as well as HDR in the form of HDR10. To get the price down to $39.99, Roku had to drop 802.11ac WiFi support, so the new Premiere only supports 802.11b/g/n. There’s also no support for either Dolby Vision HDR or Dolby Atmos surround sound. Included with the Roku Premiere is an HDMI cable and Roku’s basic IR remote that requires line of sight to the tiny box to function and does not have any voice capabilities.

The new Roku Premiere+, which will only be available to purchase from Walmart, is identical to the new Roku Premiere, but it includes a better remote. The remote that comes with the Premiere+ is radio-based, so you don’t have to point it at the device for it to work. It also comes with voice search and power/volume buttons that can control your TV. At $49.99 for the Roku Premiere+, you’ll essentially be paying $10 for the extra remote functionality. Neither new model support ethernet, external storage, or have a USB port.

Unfortunately, Roku hasn’t updated their flagship Roku Ultra streaming box, but the device will now include “premium” JBL headphones in the box for the same $99.99 price. Roku says the headphones are “valued at $39.95.” The Roku Ultra will also now come with two new remote finder sounds, which include SportsCenter’s Da-Da-Da sound and the Game of Thrones theme song. The Roku Premiere, Premiere+, and Ultra are available to pre-order today and will ship on October 7th.

Lastly, Roku has announced that they’re making it possible for the Google Assistant to control their streaming devices. The Google Home smart speaker will be able to control playback, search content, and load the home screen of Roku boxes, sticks, and TVs. The Google Assistant won’t be accessible through Rokus themselves, like you can access Alexa through Fire TVs. This is more akin to how you can control a Fire TV through an external Echo device. Roku has not given any indication that they’ll be adding support for Alexa in the same manner.

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19 comments
  1. clocks says:

    I feel like this may force Amazon to lock their FTVs at the sale prices they’ve been having. No one will pay $40 for the stick anymore, and $70 for the pendant is a stretch also.

    Any chance we still see a new FTV this year?

  2. Charlie says:

    Thanks to Roku for making my 2016 Ultra still relevant.

  3. Halberstram says:

    You sure they don’t support some form of Dolby Atmos? The older Premiere models do. Same with the Stick+ and Ultra. You can get Atmos sound in Vudu, for example with those models.

    • AFTVnews says:

      I couldn’t find Atmos mentioned anywhere on the product pages or in the press. Their developer documentation says the Ultra is the only one that supports Atmos.

      • Halberstram says:

        Probably just out of date. Their dev docs are full of errors as well. My now last gen Preimere+ passes Atmos just fine. Wouldn’t be surprised if all their 4k models do since they’re essentially the same hardware in different form factors with separate superficial features.

  4. lenin says:

    if roku creates an Alexa skill , lots of people will jump ship.
    I find their UI way easier and cleaner

  5. Charlie says:

    Can’t believe they aren’t including AC Wi-Fi in the Premiere streamers. Even if I were tempted to try one, having to settle for wireless N nixes any impulse to do so.

    Very lack luster lineup this year. I think I’ve read or heard Roku isn’t making their money on hardware.

    • Charlie says:

      Have to admit,lack AC aside, I’m now kind of intrigued to see how well the Premiere+ would perform. It’s so cheap and of course Walmart has extremely generous return policies. Maybe it won’t suck.

      This thing is tiny: 1.4 x 3.3 x 0.7 inches

  6. Dave says:

    Day one for me!

  7. JFC says:

    “Lastly, Roku has announced that they’re making it possible for the Google Assistant to control their streaming devices.”

    Did Roku say WHEN for adding the Google Assistant support?

    And, were they talking about only adding it to the newly announced group of Rokus, or extending that feature to their other recently marketed devices?

  8. Gr8sho says:

    I have a Roku express and I despise it for lack of ac support. Am forced to use it for certain apps that only exist there.

    • clocks says:

      Leaving wifi AC out on a 4k streamer seems like extreme penny pinching, but I guess I’ll see how the reviews are. But if wifi AC isn’t needed, I wonder why all the companies use it for their boxes.

  9. Charlie says:

    While I have a 2016 Roku Ultra for my primary TV, I suddenly decided I needed a Roku to match up with my FTV2 on my 2nd TV. You know how it goes. I spent days viewing videos and shopping Amazon, eBay, and Craigslist trying to decide it I could settle for a stick or if I was willing to pay for an Ultra or maybe a Premiere+ either used or new. I had to go to Walmart today and decided that if the 2017 stick that has AC Wi-Fi was on sale for 39.99 I would try one, though I generally never buy a streamer without Ethernet. Walked up and found the last 2017 Ultra was marked down to 64.00, likely preparing for the new stock coming in this week. What choice did I have? I had to buy it, because apparently it was meant to be. :)

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