Roku Ultra and Roku Streambar give new OS 9.4 its first streaming outing

Chris Davies - Sep 28, 2020, 8:34am CDT
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Roku Ultra and Roku Streambar give new OS 9.4 its first streaming outing

Roku has revealed two new streaming devices, with the Roku Ultra as its new flagship and the Roku Streambar integrating a home theater speaker. The new models arrive alongside Roku OS 9.4, the latest generation of the company’s set-top box software, which will eventually bring features like Apple AirPlay 2 and HomeKit to several of Roku models.

Roku Ultra

Top of the Roku set-top box range, the Roku Ultra promises up to 4K HDR video in Dolby Vision, HDR10, and HLG. It packs both ethernet and WiFi 802.11ac, and supports local playback via the USB 3.0 port on the back. Bluetooth streaming is also supported.

There’s audio support for DTS Digital Surround pass through over HDMI, and Dolby Atmos decode via HDMI. Alternatively, the Roku voice remote has a headphone jack for private listening. There’s buttons for TV power, volume, and mute, along with personal shortcuts. If you have a Google Assistant or Amazon Alexa powered smart speaker or similar, you’ll be able to use that to control the Roku Ultra by voice.

Roku says it should be faster to use, with content channels loading faster, thanks for a quad-core processor, while the new WiFi chipset should mean up to 50-percent more range. There’s the useful lost-remote button on the box itself, too.

The Roku Ultra will be $99.99, and is expected to ship from October 18.

Roku Streambar

The Roku Streambar isn’t the company’s first soundbar-toting model, but it’s more compact and cheaper than the existing Roku Smart Soundbar. It supports 4K HDR video, and as with any Roku set-top box there are channels for things like Netflix, Apple TV+, Disney+, Hulu, and other popular streaming providers. The USB 2.0 port can be used for local media playback too, and there’s Bluetooth 5.0 streaming as well.

As with the Roku Ultra there’s Google Assistant and Amazon Alexa support. However the Roku Streambar adds four 1.9-inch full range drivers – two facing centrally, one on either of the angled ends – that support Dolby Audio and PCM. There’s a Speech Clarity mode and a Night Mode that trims the excessive sounds to avoid waking the house up. If you want more bass, meanwhile, it’s compatible with the $179.99 Roku Wireless Subwoofer, while you can also pair a set of Roku TV Wireless Speakers for surround sound.

The Roku Streambar will be $129.99, and is expected to ship from October 18.

Roku OS 9.4

Both of the new models use Roku OS 9.4, the latest version of the company’s software. It should deliver speedier channel loading and adds new themes, along with a Live TV shortcut. There’s also more granular control over surround sound volumes.

Later in the year, there’ll be Apple AirPlay 2 and HomeKit support. That’ll make it easier to share content from an Apple device like an iPhone or iPad. Existing Roku device owners should start seeing OS 9.4 arrive from later this month, with Roku TV sets getting it later in the year.


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