Roku debuts new Streaming Stick 4K bundles, software update with voice and mobile features – TechCrunch

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Weeks after Amazon launched an up to date Hearth TV lineup that included, for the primary time, its own TVs, Roku at this time is asserting its personal aggressive merchandise in a race to seize customers’ consideration earlier than the vacation buying season. Its updates embody a new Roku Streaming Stick 4K and Roku Streaming Stick 4K+ — the latter which ships with Roku’s newer hands-free voice distant. The corporate can also be refreshing the Roku Extremely LT, a Walmart-exclusive version of its high-end participant. And it introduced the newest software update, Roku OS 10.5, which provides up to date voice features, a new Dwell TV channel for residence screens, and different minor modifications.

The new Streaming Stick 4K builds on Roku’s four-year-old product, the Streaming Stick+, because it gives the identical kind of stick type issue designed to be hidden behind the TV set. This version, nevertheless, has a sooner processor which permits the device as well as much as 30% sooner and load channels extra shortly, Roku claims. The Wi-Fi can also be improved, providing sooner speeds and smart algorithms that assist make certain customers get on the proper band for the best performance of their houses the place network congestion is an more and more widespread downside  — particularly with the pandemic-induced distant work way of life. The new Stick provides assist for Dolby Imaginative and prescient and HDR 10+, giving it the “4K” moniker.

This version ships with Roku’s commonplace voice distant for a similar price of $49.99. For comparability, Amazon’s new Hearth TV Stick Max with a sooner processor and speedier Wi-Fi is $54.99. Nevertheless, Amazon is touting the addition of Wi-Fi 6 and assist for its sport streaming service, Luna, as causes to upgrade.

Roku’s new Streaming Stick 4K+ provides the Roku Voice Distant Professional to the bundle as a substitute. That is Roku’s new distant, launched in the spring, that gives rechargeability, a misplaced distant finder, and hands-free voice assist through its mid-field microphone, so you'll be able to simply say issues like “hey Roku, flip on the TV,” or “launch Netflix,” as a substitute of urgent buttons. Purchased individually, this distant is $29.99. The bundle sells for $69.99, which interprets to a $10 low cost over shopping for the stick and distant by themselves.

Picture Credit: Roku

Each variations of the Streaming Stick shall be offered online and in shops beginning in October.

The Roku Extremely LT ($79.99), constructed for Walmart completely, has additionally been refreshed with a sooner processor, extra storage, a new Wi-Fi radio with as much as 50% longer vary, assist for Dolby Imaginative and prescient, Bluetooth audio streaming, and a built-in ethernet port.

Plus, Roku notes that TCL will turn into the primary device associate to make use of the reference designs it launched at CES for wi-fi soundbars, with its upcoming Roku TV wi-fi soundbar. This device connects over Wi-Fi to the TV and works with the Roku distant, and will arrive at main retailers in October the place it'll promote for $179.99.

The opposite huge news is Roku’s OS 10.5 software launch. The update isn’t making any dramatic modifications this time round, however is as a substitute centered largely on voice and mobile enhancements.

Essentially the most noticeable consumer-facing change is the power so as to add a new Dwell TV channel to your own home screen which helps you to extra simply launch The Roku Channel’s 200+ free reside TV channels, as a substitute of getting to first go to Roku’s free streaming hub straight, then navigate to the Dwell TV part. This might make the Roku really feel extra like conventional TV for cord-cutters abandoning their TV information for the primary time.

Different tweaks embody expanded assist for launching channels utilizing voice instructions, with most now supported; new voice search and podcast playback with a extra visible “music and podcast” row and Spotify as a launch associate; the power to regulate sound settings within the mobile app; an added Voice Assist information in settings; and extra sound configuration options for Roku audio system and soundbars (e.g. utilizing the speaker pairs and soundbar in a left/heart/proper) or in full 5.1 encompass sound system).

A useful feature for getting into in e-mail and passwords in set-up screens utilizing voice instructions is new, too. Roku says it sends the voice information off-device to its speech-to-text associate, and the audio is anonymized. Roku doesn’t get the password or retailer it, because it goes on to the channel associate. Whereas there are all the time privateness issues with voice information, the addition is an enormous perk from an accessibility standpoint.

Picture Credit: Roku

One of many extra under-the-radar, however probably helpful modifications coming in OS 10.5 is a complicated A/V sync feature that permits you to use the smartphone camera to assist Roku make additional refinements to the audio delay when utilizing wi-fi headphones to take heed to the TV. This feature is obtainable by way of the mobile app.

The Roku mobile app within the U.S. can also be gaining one other feature with the OS 10.5 update with the addition of a new Residence tab for shopping collections of films and reveals throughout genres, and a “Save Record, which features as a method to bookmark reveals or motion pictures you would possibly hear about — like when chatting with mates — and need to bear in mind to watch later once you’re again residence in front of the TV.

The software update will roll out to Roku gadgets over the weeks forward. It sometimes involves Roku gamers first, then rolls out to TVs.

Source : TechCrunch