‘Tis the season for new streaming boxes, and Roku is the latest to get in on the act. Fresh off its IPO, Roku has dropped a new line of streaming boxes that it claims are as much as five times more powerful than last year’s models. There are a total of five products in the revamped line, which includes an entirely new device and bids farewell to two models from last year’s lineup. The new devices will hit stores on October 8th.
Last year’s major revamp saw Roku re-brand its devices, ditching the numbered models for names like the “Roku Ultra.” The branding changes aren’t as drastic this time around, but Roku is killing off two mid-tier models, the Premiere and the Premiere+, which leaves the Roku Ultra at the top of the heap.
The big differences are under the hood. Roku is dropping new chips into all of its models, which means will mean faster performance. That’s the only change to the lower-tier $29.99 Roku Express and $39.99 Express+. Like last year, the Express+ is just an Express that comes with composite cables. This time around, the Express+ is a Walmart exclusive.
Bigger changes have arrived on the Roku Stick, which now boasts a voice remote just like the Roku Ultra. The $49.99 Roku Streaming Stick is 50% more powerful than the last version, Roku says. And now the Stick has a “+” version of its own: $69.99 Roku Stick+, which offers a universal remote as well as 4K and HDR support. The market for lower-cost 4K streaming devices is growing fast: the Stick+ joins Google’s Chromecast Ultra ($69) and Amazon’s new Fire TV ($69.99, despite being Amazon’s priciest model) in this market segment.
Speaking of low-cost models, that’s another change: the Roku Ultra is dropping in price from $129.99 to $99.99. That makes the Ultra the second device to drastically undercut the pricey ($179.99 or $199.99, depending on the model) Apple TV 4K since the latter’s release – which was less than two weeks ago.
Like the new Stick+, the new Roku Ultra features Roku’s new universal remote. Using the Roku remote to control everything is one of the joys of the Roku TV line, and now it’s going to be the norm for Roku streaming box users, too. Roku’s devices can detect your TV settings for you, so there’s no need for the lengthy set-up process or codes look-ups that most universal remotes require.
Please like us on Facebook to keep up to date on what's new in the world of cord cutting: