Newly public Roku announces latest lineup of streaming devices

Newly public Roku announces latest lineup of streaming devices

Newly public Roku announces latest lineup of streaming devices

The new Apple TV 4K will be a tough sell for those that aren't entrenched in the Apple and iTunes ecosystem.

The difference between the Roku Express and the Express+ model is that the Express+ will offer additional composite output options for consumers that want to stream content to their older non-HDMI television sets. With Roku OS 8, you can now also search for over-the-air shows with Roku's search function and use voice commands while watching that programming. The new remotes also come with volume and power buttons, which the older remotes did not feature.

The most interesting member of the family is the all-new Streaming Stick+. Great for HD, 4K and 4K HDR up to 60 frames per second (fps) streaming. The Roku Streaming Stick will be available for $49.99 MSRP.

And then at the high-end is the $100 Roku Ultra (a price reduction on its previous $130 box) that offers 4K quality video and a remote that does voice search, has a headset socket, and a feature to find its remote controls in case they get mislaid. It's been a year since Roku did away with the numbering system and dubbed its hardware the Roku Express, Express+, Premiere, Premiere+, and Ultra.

To compete better, Roku has opened its platform to more TV apps than its peers.

Across the board, the new OS 8 upgrade and model line refresh will certainly keep Roku competitive. Notably, Roku OS 8 adds support for browsing through free over-the-air (OTA) channels when someone plugs an antenna into their TVs.

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The boxes also offer a cable-service style listing of live TV, making it even easier to ditch that cable box and cut the cord - so long as you install a broadcast TV antenna.

As far as we know, Roku has the largest catalogue of titles and therefore is more likely to display shows and movies at lower prices than either the Amazon Fire TV or Apple TV 4K, both of which are likely to push you towards their respective stores over a cheaper competitor. To go to 4K or for HDR support, you have to pay $69.99 for the Roku Streaming Stick+.

Meanwhile, the Roku Streaming Stick ($50) features a compact design with a quad-core processor, 802.11 AC dual-band MIMO wireless, and support for HD streaming. The content side of TV streaming has also been active.

In past years, we've found the Roku Streaming Stick to be a bit faster than the other two - but Amazon has clearly done a lot of work on its new player.

OS 8, which will start rolling out to the streamers this month and to the Roku TV models next month, adds enhanced voice search, allowing search and launch and single sign-on for TV Everywhere channels, eliminating the need for repeated log-in when accessing services the user already subscribes to through AT&T, Cox, Dish and other providers.

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