Roku gives video streamers new options: rechargeable remote, soundbar and virtual surround sound

Roku 4
The Roku 4

Roku is adding a new rechargeable voice remote to its lineup and has begun rolling out a new operating system bring new features to its vast streaming audience.

You won't have to keep replacing batteries with the Roku Voice Remote Pro ($29.99, available now at Roku.com; in stores in May), which can be used for months when charged with any MicroUSB charger. The remote works with all Roku TVs, Roku Streambars and Smart Soundbars and all streaming players released since 2017.

You can also use your voice to do some functions such as power on or off the TV, adjust the volume and you can ask "Hey Roku, where's my remote?" A headphone jack lets you listen privately.

Roku's new operating system Roku OS 10, now rolling out, will bring virtual surround to the Roku Smart Soundbar and a new Roku Streambar Pro ($179.99, coming in May). Roku devices will also gain smart Wi-Fi detection that automatically connects to the fastest home connection (some routers create 2.4Ghz and 5Ghz networks, which are faster but with less range).

All Roku TVs and most Roku streaming players will get the Roku OS 10 update in the coming weeks. Other features include:

* A new instant resume feature will pick up where you left on on 15 channels including Fox News Channel, The Roku Channel and AT&T TV, and the live TV guide gets some new options including a favorites list and the ability to hide some

* More Roku devices including the Roku Express and some Roku TVs will also be able to stream content from Apple devices and Macintosh computers and use your voice to enter some information on menus—plus talk to Apple's digital assistant Siri. Roku TVs will also automatically configure settings if there is a connected.

* Current Roku devices including the Roku Ultra, Roku Express 4K and the Express 4K+ will also gain HDR10+ support.

Also arriving in mid-May is a new streaming player, the Roku Express 4K+ ($39.99). This model replaces the current Roku Premiere ($34.99) model, which handled 4K video, but had only a simple remote. The Express 4K+ comes with a remote and has improved processing speed and memory. A Roku Express 4K model ($35) with a basic remote will be available exclusively at Walmart.


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