Roku updated its lineup of streaming devices, generally making all five of them all cheaper and faster. The most important of Roku’s new devices is the new Roku Streaming Stick Plus. The $70 streaming stick supports 4K and HDR video, putting it in direct competition with the new Apple TV 4K ($179) and Amazon’s Fire TV ($70). What separates Roku’s 4K streaming is its advanced wireless receiver, which Roku claims gives it four times the wireless range of the regular Roku Streaming Stick. If your TV is located in a room with a poor wi-fi connection, this device is optimized for just that.
As for which 4K streaming device you should buy (assuming you already have a 4K TV), it depends on how much you’re willing to spend and which ecosystem you’re tied to. If you own an iPhone and MacBook, you value AirPlay, and you already own a collection of movies from the iTunes store, the Apple TV 4K’s steep price likely won’t scare you off. Roku’s and Amazon’s 4K streaming devices, along with Google’s Chromecast Ultra ($69), are all pretty comparable. The Streaming Stick Plus might be the best option for people comfortable with Roku’s interface, or if your TV is constantly plagued with poor wi-fi. The Google and Amazon devices are probably best for people with other Chromecast or Echo devices, respectively.
As for Roku’s other announcements, the company’s entry-level and HD streaming boxes, the Roku Express ($30) and the Roku Express+ ($40), are now updated with faster processors, though each still costs the same. The portable HD streaming stick, the Roku Streaming Stick ($50), also costs the same as last year’s model, but now boasts a 50 percent faster processor and comes with remote voice control. The highest-end streaming box, the Roku Ultra ($100), is down from last year’s $130 and now comes with a slightly updated remote. All these streaming devices will run Roku’s new operating system, Roku OS 8, enabling them to through search apps, like Netflix or HBO Now, and live TV (assuming you have a cable box). For example, if you were searching for Game of Thrones while a live episode was airing, the Roku device would allow you to choose between HBO Now’s catalog of old episodes or a live stream of the episode via your cable provider.
You can preorder all of these new streaming devices today on Roku’s website. They will be available everywhere on October 8.