Roku Announces New Set-Top Boxes, Google Assistant Compatibility

Posted on September 24, 2018 by Paul Thurrott in Cloud, Google, Music + Videos, Smart Home with 7 Comments

As it does at this time every year, Roku has announced an updated lineup of living room set-top boxes. But there are two major differences with the 2018 Rokus: These devices offer 4K/HDR capabilities at an incredibly low price, and they come with Google Assistant.

“Roku Premiere and Roku Premiere+ are the easiest and most affordable way to stream in outstanding picture quality,” Roku director of product management Lloyd Klarke said. “At under $40, the new Roku Premiere is our lowest-priced 4K streaming player ever, and it’s going to give consumers the best picture quality their TV can handle. It is great for HDTV today and even better if they decide to get a 4K TV tomorrow.”

Here’s the 2018 lineup.

Roku Express and Express+ These devices carry over from last year. The Roku Express remains at the entry-level $30 price while the Roku Express+, which adds classic TV interfaces (composite and A/V) and a lower price of $35.

Roku Premiere. New to 2018, this $40 streaming provides 4K and HDR capabilities.

Roku Premiere+. Otherwise identical to the Premiere, this version adds a voice remote with TV power & volume buttons for just $50.

Roku Streaming Stick and Streaming Stick+. Also carrying over from 2017, these stick-based streamers cost $40 and $70 respectively.

Roku Ultra. Roku’s most powerful streamer is “more powerful,” though it’s not clear what was upgraded. It offers Ethernet 10/100 and 802.11ac MIMO dual-band wireless connectivity, premium JBL headphones for private listening, an enhanced voice remote, a lost remote button on the streamer, a USB port for local video, a night listening mode, and Dolby and DTS Digital Surround pass-through over HDMI.

The Roku Premiere and Roku Premiere+ are available for pre-order today from Roku.com and will ship in early October. The improved Roku Ultra will likewise ship in early October.

Additionally, Roku announced that it will soon make some of its streaming boxes compatible with Google Assistant.

“You’ll be able to use Google Assistant devices to control select Roku streaming devices to pause and search for content and launch channels,” the firm revealed. “Additionally, Roku TV owners can turn their TV on and off, turn up the volume, mute, switch inputs and change channels if there is an OTA antenna connected.”

I believe that capability will become available in November.

 

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