Roku has just announced new devices and software updates for 2021. The most significant new device is a new Roku Streaming Stick 4K which now includes Dolby Vision and HDR10+ support, plus a performance boost over the 4-year-old Streaming Stick+ that it replaces. There’s also a slightly refreshed Roku Ultra LT, and a new TCL soundbar for Roku Smart TVs. Roku OS 10.5 has also been detailed with quicker access to live TV channels, music search, and wider support for launching apps by voice.
The all-new Roku Streaming Stick 4K replaces Roku’s Streaming Stick+, which debuted 4 years ago in 2017. The new streamer uses the same form factor as the older stick, but appears to have moved the Wi-Fi lump, for lack of a better word, found on the power cord of the older model to the inside of the stick, like all other streaming sticks. Roku says that this “redesigned long-range Wi-Fi receiver delivers up to 2x faster Wi-Fi speeds,” however, unlike the new Fire TV stick 4K Max, it still uses Wi-Fi 5 and has not moved to Wi-Fi 6.
Roku has added support for Dolby Vision and HDR10+ support to the new Streaming Stick 4K, making it Roku’s first sub $99 device to support the more advanced HDR formats. Roku also says the new streaming stick is “more powerful than ever,” thanks to a new quad-core processor, but the only improved spec they stated is 30% faster boot-up times. The Roku Streaming Stick 4K is available to pre-order for $49.99 with a remote that includes TV and power controls and it will ship October 14th in the US and Canada, with availability in Mexico and other Latin America countries to follow. Roku is also selling the new streaming stick in a bundle that includes the Roku Remote Pro, which includes hands-free voice controls, rechargeable battery, and headphone jack, as the Roku Streaming Stick 4K+ for $69.99. That bundle saves you $10 over buying the $30 Roku Remote Pro separately.
The only other hardware update is a refresh to the Roku Ultra LT, which is the Walmart-exclusive little brother to Roku’s flagship Ultra streaming box. Roku says the new Ultra LT has “a faster processor [and] more storage,” but does not provide detailed specs for either upgrade. It also has a new Wi-Fi radio that is said to have “50% longer range than the previous model.” Lastly, Roku added Dolby Vision support to the Ultra LT. It will be available to order in the US in the coming weeks, again, only from Walmart for $79.99.
TCL will be the first manufacturer to produce a soundbar using Roku’s reference design, which was introduced at the start of the year at CES. This soundbar connects wirelessly to Roku Smart TVs only, not Roku stand-alone players, over Wi-Fi and works with the Roku remote. Roku remotes are incapable of controlling both a TV and a separate soundbar simultaneously, so this integrated soundbar solves that issue. It will be available in October for $179.99.
The last thing Roku announced was that Roku OS 10.5 will begin rolling out in the coming weeks. It adds a new icon to the home screen that will take you directly to the over 200 live TV channels found in The Roku Channel
, which will save you a few clicks. Roku also says that nearly all apps/channels now support being launched by voice. When the capability was first announced, notable apps, like Netflix and Spotify, were not supported. The software update also includes a new dedicated music and podcast row in search results.