Roku
CNN —  

Roku is updating its $50 streaming stick, and will soon release a fairly big software update that will bring new features and functionality to Roku streaming devices everywhere.

The $50 Roku Streaming Stick 4K is making its debut today, and you can preorder one from Roku right now.

But there’s more to Roku’s latest announcements than a single streaming device — we break down all of today’s announcements below.

Roku Streaming Stick 4K looks fantastic

Roku

The Roku Streaming Stick+ is no more. It’s being replaced by the Roku Streaming Stick 4K, a slimmer, more refined streaming stick that plugs directly into your TV’s HDMI port.

With a faster processor, the new Streaming Stick 4K will turn on quicker, load channels faster and in general provide a smoother experience. Roku has also improved its Wi-Fi capabilities, allowing the stick to switch between 2.4GHz and 5GHz Wi-Fi bands on its own, based on nearby congestion. Additionally, if you have a mesh wireless system in your home, the Streaming Stick 4K will connect to the nearest access point.

As for video quality, you can expect to see 4K, with Dolby Vision and HDR10+ support, in any streaming services that support it.

Included with the Streaming Stick 4K is Roku’s Voice Remote that controls your TV and the streaming device, and can be used to give voice commands to Roku’s platform.

Earlier this year, Roku released the $29.99 Voice Remote Pro — a rechargeable remote that offers hands-free voice commands for tasks like turning on your TV or playing your favorite show. Roku, along with retail partners Walmart and Amazon, will offer a Roku Streaming Stick 4K+ bundle for $69.99 that will include the new Streaming Stick 4K and the Voice Remote Pro, saving you $10 in the process. It’s an online-only promotion.

The Roku Streaming Stick+ was part of our test group when we picked the best streaming device of 2021, and although it didn’t come out on top, we had zero issues with the speed and performance of the Stick+. With the Streaming Stick 4K promising even better performance, we have high expectations.

The Roku Streaming Stick 4K and Roku Streaming Stick 4K+ are both available to order right now, and will begin shipping in mid-October.

Roku OS 10.5 is all about discovering your next favorite show

Roku

A new streaming stick isn’t the only news Roku has for us today. The company is also unveiling new updates coming to all Roku devices with Roku OS 10.5. This time around, Roku is updating the software that powers your Roku experience to make it easier to find and remember what to watch.

The Roku mobile app will feature a way to search for and bookmark a show or movie when you’re away from your TV so you can easily access it when you get back home.

There’s also a new Live TV channel that Roku users can add to the home screen of their Roku device. The channel acts as a shortcut to reveal the Roku Channels’ Live TV Channel guide and over 200 free live TV channels.

Another handy update is coming to Roku Voice. You’ll soon be able to ask your Roku device to play a show on Netflix or stream some music from Spotify, even if you aren’t currently in that respective channel. Speaking of music, Roku OS 10.5 also includes other improvements to search results with music, podcasts and video podcasts.

If you use a long, complicated password for any of your streaming accounts, Roku OS 10.5 adds the option to use voice dictation to enter your password instead of using the remote.

Other features that are included in Roku OS 10.5 that are worth mentioning include easier private listening on your smartphone when paired with headphones or earbuds, the ability to add two more Roku Wireless Speakers to your surround sound setup to create a 5.1 surround sound experience and a tool that makes it easier to discover all of the Roku Voice commands currently available.

Roku OS 10.5 will start rolling out in the coming weeks.

One more thing: Roku and TCL teamed up for a wireless soundbar

Roku

We don’t know many details about the TCL Roku TV Wireless Soundbar, but we do know that it will launch in October for $179.99. As its name implies, you won’t have to use any wires to connect the soundbar to your Roku TV — it’s all done wirelessly. Just connect it to power and you should be good to go.

Roku’s wired soundbars are some of our favorites. In fact, the Streambar Pro is our current top pick for best soundbar. It offers excellent sound quality, plenty of features like the ability to single out and make voices more prominent in a show and doubles as a 4K streaming device. While TCL’s soundbar will be all about sound, we have to imagine that it at least matches the sound quality and performance of Streambar Pro. We can’t wait to test this one out.

We’re told TCL will have more details to share about the Roku TV Wireless Soundbar soon, including preorders and availability.

Let’s recap

At $49.99, the Roku Streaming Stick 4K is shaping up to be a budget-friendly and attractive streaming stick that’s sure to be a hit among Roku fans, especially as we head into the holiday season. If you’re in the market for a new streaming device, this is looking like a good one to snag for yourself or a loved one right now.

Or you can wait for our full review once we’re able to get our hands on one. We’re excited to put the new performance claims to the test, and are curious about how well the new minimal design performs during extended binge-watching sessions.