Roku on Tuesday announced a big update to its streaming devices. Roku will release OS 9.3 to devices in the coming weeks, bringing notable improvements to the likes of the $30 Roku Express and $99 Roku Ultra. It’s also coming to Roku TVs, like the popular models from TCL or Hisense.
Features and improvements included in the update range from improved voice commands to more customization options and performance improvements.
For example, Spanish speaking users in the U.S. and Mexico will be able to use voice commands to do things like open channels, search for shows and control playback using their native language. Alexa and Google Assistant support are also being added for Canada, Mexico and the U.K., allowing users to use smart speakers and the digital assistants to control their Roku devices.
Some of the more noticeable changes include new visual search results, which Roku states will be easier to browse with the results organized by categories.
For those with a Roku that includes an enhanced voice control remote, you’ll be able to use new commands like “Show me the news” to view news channels, while “Play the news” will begin streaming ABC News. Alternatively, you can tell your Roku box to “Play the news on … ” to open a specific news source of your choosing.
Roku now has over 50 streaming services that you can begin watching a movie or show you searched for, instead of navigating and making a selection in the search results.
With Roku OS 9.3, users will now have the choice to add “themes” to their devices. A theme consists of a wallpaper and a screensaver, which can be accessed from the Settings menu.
Performance improvements include faster boot times and improved launch times for some channels (with support for more channels coming soon), along with improved home screen navigation.
Roku Smart Soundbar and Roku TV users will also gain more settings in the TV interface and the ability to pair a Bluetooth device like a speaker or other Roku audio devices.
According to Roku, OS 9.3 will begin rolling out to “select” Roku players in April and reach additional devices, as well as the Roku Smart Soundbar and Roku TV in the “coming weeks.”
Roku’s lineup is mostly made up of low-end, affordable devices like $29.99 Roku Express or $39.99 Roku Premiere. And more powerful, still affordable devices like the $49.99 Roku Streaming Stick+ or the $99 Roku Ultra.
All four devices have access and the capabilities to stream movies and shows from all of the typical streaming services like Netflix, Hulu or HBO Now. Only the Streaming Stick+ and Ultra come with a voice-capable remote, while the Express and Premiere come with a standard remote.
Better yet, you can save on some of these devices and Roku-enabled TVs right now.
- Roku Express ($29.99; bhphotovideo.com or roku.com)
- Roku Premiere ($39.99; bhphotovideo.com or roku.com)
- Roku Streaming Stick+ ($49.99; roku.com)
- Roku Ultra ($99.95; bhphotovideo.com or roku.com)
- TCL 50 inch 4-Series 4K Roku TV($269.99, originally $309.99; amazon.com)
- TCL 65” Class 5-Series 4K Roku TV ($499.99; amazon.com)
- TCl 65” Class 6-Series 4K UHD QLED Dolby Vision HDR TV ($749.99, originally $1,099.99; amazon.com)
Note: The prices above reflect the retailer’s listed prices at the time of publication.