Roku has announced a few new products this morning. First is a pair of new entry-level 4K streaming media players, the Express 4K for $34.99 as a Walmart exclusive and the Express 4K+ for $39.99 (Amazon link). These replace the companies aging Roku Premiere models and differ only in the remotes that they come with. Roku is also refreshing its primary soundbar model with the new Streambar Pro for $179.99. This appears to just be a rebranding of the older Roku Smart Sounbar, but with a slightly better remote.
The Express 4K and Express 4K+, as their names suggest, both support 2160p video, unlike the regular Roku Express, which is a 1080p device. They also support HDR10 video and are the first Roku players to support HDR10+ video, however, neither support Dolby Vision. The Roku Ultra is still the only Roku device that supports Dolby Vision and Roku says the Ultra will be gaining support for HDR10+ with a future software update.
Both the Express 4K and the Express 4K+ support Dolby and DTS passthrough audio, but neither supports Dolby Atmos or onboard Dolby decoding. They do both support 802.11ac WiFi, which the regular Express and Premiere models do not. Those Cap out at 802.11n WiFi. Another first for the Express 4K models is support for Ethernet adapters through their micro USB power port.
The Express 4K and 4K+ are identical media players, but differ in the remote that they include. The cheaper Express 4K, which can only be purchased through Walmart, comes with a basic IR remote that must be pointed at the device. The Express 4K+ comes with an RF remote which doesn’t need to be pointed. The Express 4K+ remote also includes a voice button and can control your TV’s power and volume. Those extra remote perks are well worth the extra $5 you pay for the plus model.
The other new streaming media player that Roku has introduced is the Streambar Pro. This is essentially the Roku Smart Soundbar released in 2019 but with a new name and a slightly better remote. It has a Roku streaming media player built-in with all the same video and audio capabilities as the Express 4K, but it does do onboard Dolby audio decoding since it is a soundbar after all. The remote included with the Strembar Pro is the same one that comes with the Roku Ultra and includes a headphone jack and 2 programable shortcut buttons, neither of which were included on the remote that came with the now discontinued Roku Smart Soundbar.
The Roku Express 4K, available only through Walmart, and the Roku Express 4K+, available on Amazon and other places, can be pre-ordered now and will both ship in mid-May. The Roku Streambar Pro is availabe to pre-order now as well but won’t ship until late-May.
You may be working in a separate piece on it Elias but they also announced Roku OS 10 and it sounds like they aimed at a few areas people really dislike on the new FTV interface. Also adding airplay and homekit on some models.
“Improving User Experience
Among the new features coming to Roku OS 10 are “Instant Resume,” which helps users get back to the content they were watching within supported channels faster.
With Instant Resume, when users launch a channel again, reload times will be much quicker and they will be taken back to the place where they last left off for a much faster, smoother experience. Instant resume will be supported on 15+ streaming channels/services, with AT&T TV, Plex, and STARZ being the major services to support it initially.
Customizable Live TV Guide
The Roku Live TV Guide is also getting a major update, with users now able to customize their live channel guide by hiding certain channels or marking others as favorites, a major request of users since it launched last year. You can also quickly select from a list of recently watched channels.”
Sounds good, will see when it arrives.
INSTANT RESUME sounds quite useful and customer centric, which is why the major streamers (Netflix, HBO Max, Disney+, HULU, Peacock) will likely not participate. They want you in their standalone app where they can capture all of the usage data and monetize us all. The likely participants will be services that already have Channel subscription agreements with Roku and Amazon (Starz, Acorn TV, Britbox, PBS Masterpiece, AMC+, Paramount+, Showtime, etc.) If you subscribe to those services within Roku or Prime Video you already have a solution that allows you faster access to content in your CONTINUE WATCHING queue.