Find the Roku player that suits your needs best with our help .
Astonishing maximalism over the past few years by Roku streaming player lineup has made it cumbersome to select the right device for customers as instead of funneling customers into a small number of products Roku offers a streaming player for every conceivable need and budget.
How to make sense of all those options which is already difficult is made even more harder with this week’s announcements of a new Roku Ultra and Apple’s Airplay 2 Media and Homekit smart-home technologies. Roku’s 2020 device lineup has quite a sprawling nature which means that there will be some new differences between products that didn’t exist before, and prospective Roku customers will need to choose wisely.and that’s where you might need our guidance.
pf course as customers you can choose from lots of other streaming devices other than Roku players, but if you like Roku’s simple software and are in the market for new hardware this year, here’s what you need to know before you go to buy one:
But getting an Ultra instead means giving up the tight integration between streaming and audio that makes Roku’s soundbars so appealing.
Even the choice between Roku’s two streaming soundbars is somewhat confusing. And the idea behind the new Streambar—a combination steaming box and soundbar that doesn’t dominate your TV stand—does seem like a great idea.
Roku won’t say why its 1080p streamers don’t offer this feature.
In any case, the limitation means that the Walmart-exclusive Roku Express+, which was previously an excellent 1080p streamer, is now missing a major new feature.
The sections outlined in green represent new features that Roku is introducing this fall. Your best bet is to spend an extra $10 on the Roku Streaming Stick+, which has both AirPlay 2 support and the better remote.
(The absence of HomeKit support on 1080p devices could be even more vexing for Roku smart TV owners, since they’ll miss out on being able to turn on the TV with a Siri voice command or looping their TV into smart-home routines.)
Similar dilemmas abound with Roku’s Streambar and Smart Soundbar. These devices are soundbars that double as streaming players, so when you plug them into your TV, they’ll provide better audio than your TV’s speakers alongside access to Roku’s catalog of streaming video apps.
Unfortunately, neither of the company’s soundbars support Dolby Vision or HLG, the advanced high dynamic range formats supported by the new Roku Ultra streaming box. As you can see, they add some fresh complications to the Roku-buying process.
With the launch of AirPlay 2 and HomeKit support on Roku OS 9.4 later this year, for instance, you’ll be able to cast media to or mirror your screen on a Roku device from an iPhone, iPad, or Mac—but only if you have a player with 4K video support. And yet, the company is leaving both soundbars on the market, expecting customers to figure it out on their own.
Is there any reason to spend an extra $50 on Roku’s larger soundbar? Roku won’t say.
That’s not to say all of Roku’s lineup changes are for the worse. You could spend the same $40 on a Roku Premiere to get AirPlay 2 support, but then you’d get a vastly inferior remote control, with no TV volume or power buttons and no voice control. And because the Ultra supports Dolby Atmos decode, it’s a better fit with fancier Atmos-enabled sound systems, rather than the non-Atmos soundbars that Roku makes.
In other words, spending more on a third-party soundbar means missing out on Roku’s most advanced streaming features. Those features also remain exclusive to the Ultra. And as before, Roku’s soundbars don’t include headphone jacks for private listening, programmable remote control buttons, or a remote finder function. The new Roku Ultra, with its expanded HDR support, speedier processor, Bluetooth audio capabilities, and improved Wi-Fi reception, can now more appropriately described as a high-end alternative to Roku’s budget streamers. While the new Roku Streambar is much smaller and $50 cheaper than existing Roku Smart Soundbar, Roku representatives refuse to say whether one sounds better than the other.
Our Suggestion : buy the Roku Ultra only if it satisfies specific use cases that you require and Ignore every
low-end Roku besides the Streaming Stick+ (it’s often on sale for around $40 anyway), and consider Roku’s $130 Streambar only if you don’t own a Dolby Vision HDR TV and have no intention of buying one anytime soon. Everything else is just fluff.
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