Roku has been the most popular streaming platform for years, and it looks like they don’t have any plans to relinquish that position soon. This year (2021) they have added former Quibi originals to their own Roku Channel app, added support for HDR10+ to selected streaming devices, and partnered with TCL to include the Roku Streaming Platform on select new 8K TVs.
In addition, just in time for the forthcoming 2021 holiday shopping season, Roku has refreshed its streaming stick line-up with new models: the Streaming Stick 4K and 4K+.
Roku Streaming Stick 4K
The Roku Streaming Stick 4K includes several key features.
Faster Processor: The Streaming Stick 4K incorporates a Quad-Core processor that boots up 30% faster and provides faster menu navigation than previous versions.
Improved Wi-Fi: The Streaming Stick 4K includes a new Wi-Fi receiver that provides longer-range reception and up to 2X faster Wi-Fi speed. This helps to minimize buffering and unwanted interruptions.
More HDR: Support for Dolby Vision® and HDR10+. If your TV doesn’t support either of those formats, HDR10 is also supported. However, regardless of your TV, the content also has to be encoded with one or more of those formats.
Voice Remote with TV Controls: Power up the TV, adjust the volume, and control the Roku Streaming Stick 4K device with one remote. Use Roku Voice to quickly search, play entertainment, and more.
Integrated Eco-System: You can control a Roku Streaming Stick 4K by using voice with Alexa or Google Assistant-enabled devices, or via the Roku Mobile App (iOS/Android).
AirPlay 2 and HomeKit: You can stream, control, and share content directly from an iPhone, iPad, or Mac using AirPlay 2. In addition, Apple HomeKit is also supported, which allows secure control of Roku devices via Siri and HomeKit app on compatible Apple devices.
Roku Streaming Stick 4K+
The Streaming 4K+ bundles the Streaming Stick 4K with the Roku Voice Remote Pro. The Roku Voice Remote Pro has a rechargeable battery and a voice-activated lost remote finder. The Roku Voice Remote Pro also features TV controls, personal shortcut buttons, private listening via plug-in headphones, and both hands-free and push-to-talk Roku Voice control.
Roku Ultra LT
In addition to the new Roku 4K/4K+ streaming sticks, the Roku Ultra LT has been updated with a faster processor, more storage, and Wi-Fi® that provides up to a 50% longer range than the previous Ultra LT. The Roku Ultra LT also supports Dolby Vision HDR as well as Bluetooth audio streaming and built-in Ethernet if needed.
All three new Roku Media Streamers will become available in October 2021.
No Dolby Atmos?
Home theater enthusiasts should be warned that both 4K streaming sticks, as well as Ultra LT do not support Dolby Atmos. Instead consider the regular Roku Ultra (on sale now for $69.99 until 9/25/2021), which is the only current Roku player that supports Dolby Atmos.
Roku is also offering 30-days of HBO Max included with the purchase and activation of any new Roku streaming device between October 1, 2021 – January 14, 2022. During activation, the HBO Max offer will become visible to accept with additional instructions. (New subscribers only. Redeem by 1/22/22).
Walmart shoppers get $5 off with Redbox. Find the code inside the Roku player box and redeem it on the Redbox app. Offer expires 9/30/22.
Roku OS 10.5
In addition to the new streaming sticks and bonus offers above, Roku is also updating its platform to OS 10.5. The new OS version will be available for download on most existing Roku streaming sticks, TVs, and smart soundbars.
Here are the new features:
Live TV Channel Guide for Roku Streaming Players (US): The Roku Channel Live TV Channel Guide will have over 200+ free live TV channels and Roku player owners can now add a Live TV channel directly onto their home screen by searching for “Live TV on The Roku Channel”.
Roku Voice Expansion: Almost all streaming channels in Roku Search support Roku Voice, including Netflix and Spotify. Roku is also making it easier to use voice commands to enter Email addresses, Passwords, PINs, and on-screen keyboard entries.
Roku Voice Help: Roku has created a Voice Help category in the device’s settings menu that will help and offer tips on how best to use Roku Voice.
Roku Search Music and Podcast Row: Roku has a heavy emphasis on video, but OS 10.5 provides an improved experience for music and podcast listeners by supporting voice search and playback of music and podcasts. Roku has also partnered with Spotify to provide access to millions of podcasts.
Roku Mobile App Home Tab and Save List: A new Home tab in the Roku Mobile app provides easy access to entertainment. A Zone feature within the Home Tab provides access to browsable movies and shows collections. You can also create a Save List of content to watch later. The Save List can be accessed via the Home and Remote tabs. Titles can be added via search to the Save List.
Sound Settings via the Roku Mobile App (US): Roku device sound settings, such as night mode, automatic volume leveling, and speech clarity, can be made directly in the Roku mobile app rather than just the remote control or the device’s on-screen menu.
Wireless Mobile Private Listening for Streaming Players: AV synch is often a problem with listening to Roku using headphones. Listeners can now make further refinements via their smartphone camera by checking the TV screen and automatically adjusting the audio delay between the wireless headphones and the TV.
New Surround Sound Configurations (US): For owners of the Roku Stream Bar, Stream Bar Pro, and Smart Soundbar, OS 10.5 allows more flexible 3.1 and 5.1 channel setup when combining the bars with additional compatible Roku wireless speakers and subwoofer.
OS 10.5 Update Schedule
As with all Roku OS updates, version 10.5 will roll out over a period of weeks starting in October 2021. It’s usually done automatically, but you can periodically check your Roku device’s settings at any time to see if it is available on your device.
Update 11/23/2021: It has been reported that some older model Roku TVs and players are experiencing difficulties with the Roku OS 10.5 Update. If you are having difficulty accessing apps or other features after the update, check out this information from Roku Community Group.
Where to Buy?
- Roku Streaming Stick 4K ($49.99 at Amazon, available Oct. 14, 2021)
- Roku Streaming Stick 4K+ ($69.99 at Amazon, available Oct. 21, 2021)
- Roku Ultra LT ($79 at Walmart)
- Roku Ultra (
$99.99, now $69 at Amazon)
For more information: roku.com