It looks like Amazon Fire TV isn’t the only set-top box that will out-perform Apple TV this Fall with 4K Ultra HD video streaming: Roku has announced a new Roku 4 that will do so as well when it arrives in late October.
Apple announced its new Apple TV about three weeks ago, and while the box looks solid, it lacks 4K video streaming. Shortly thereafter, Amazon announced its second-generation Fire TV, which does offer 4K, and for just $100.
Roku’s new Roku 4 holds the line at $130. But based on my experience, it may be worth the extra $30 to escape Amazon’s weird Amazon-centric UI, which makes the most valuable set-top box apps—Netflix, Hulu, Google Play Video, and so on—second class citizens, hiding them behind more prominent Amazon solutions.
But the $30 also buys you higher-quality streaming, too, Roku says: Where Amazon Fire TV peters out at 30 FPS, Roku delivers a full 60 FPS of 4K Ultra HD video streaming. (Roku is also offering a 4K Spotlight channel (read: app) so you can help find 4K streams, a nice touch for these early days.)
Physically, the Roku 4 looks more like the Fire TV, or better yet, Google’s Nexus Player, offering a larger but squatter rounded rectangle than the Roku norm. (By comparison, Apple went taller with the new Apple TV, creating a weird chunk of a device.)
The Roku 4 offers a remote finder on the set-top box, too: Just press a button on it and the remote will beep, so you can locate it in its inevitable position under the couch.
The Roku 4 also comes with a new user interface, which Roku says will make its way to Roku 3, Roku Streaming Stick and some other devices. This new Roku UI provides the ability to follow movies and TV shows so you can discover when (and where) they show up on streaming services.
More important—to me, anyway—is that the new software also provides a Hotel and Dorm Connect feature for travelers and students who want to use the Roku on the road.
Roku 4 is available for pre-order today on the Roku web site. Roku says the device will ship in late October. I’m getting one, but as with Apple TV, Fire TV, and the new Chromecast devices, I’m sort of holding out hope that Microsoft will wake the f&#k up and start supporting its Groove Music and Movies & TV services on some if not all of these devices. Like many people, I often enjoy digital media in my living room (I know, crazy) and Microsoft’s behemoth Xbox One console is not the answer.