Roku’s Fall Lineup: Faster Chips, a New 4K Stick And Almost No More Boxes

Just a few days after its successful IPO, Roku is back in the news with the introduction of its new hardware lineup. Altogether, the company is announcing five new or updated devices this fall. It is also slowly saying goodbye to the good, old streaming box.

Roku’s line-up once again begins with its budget-focused Roku Express devices, first introduced in 2016, which are both just slightly bigger than a chocolate bar.

Both the base Roku Express model as well as the Roku Express Plus got new chips that are supposed to be five times more powerful than last year’s models. The Roku Express costs $30 when it goes on sale everywhere on October 8. The Roku Express Plus, which includes composite plugs for older TVs without a HDMI port, is once again a Walmart Exclusive, and sells for $40.

Roku also updated its Streaming Stick with a faster processor, and is for the first time also adding a remote control to this model that includes a microphone for voice search. And there’s something else that’s new about this remote: It also includes volume buttons as well as a button to turn the TV on and off.

To do this, Roku is relying on a combination of HDMI-CEC for TVs that support it as well as IR for all other TVs. The stick identifies the TV during the initial setup, and then automatically downloads the right IR codes to the remote to interact with the model. The streaming stick also goes on sale on October 8, and costs $50 — $10 more than last year’s model.

And there’s another stick in Roku’s new line-up. The company also introduced a 4K dongle, dubbed the Streaming Stick Plus, that can stream 4K and HDR with up to 60 fps. This model also comes with the remote with microphone and power button, and it also includes a new USB power cable that doubles as a Wifi antenna, which is supposed to optimize wireless reception and minimize interference. Roku’s Streaming Stick Plus sells for $70.

Finally, there’s the new Roku Ultra streaming box, which also offers 4K and HDR streaming. It’s the only device in Roku’s line-up that still includes an Ethernet port, and it also comes with a SD card slot for anyone wanting to download a lot of channels. Roku is also selling this model with its new remote with power button, but it made one significant change that might turn off some prospective buyers: There’s no more optical out on this device — or any other in Roku’s line-up, for that matter. The Roku Ultra is going to sell for $100, starting on October 8.

There’s one more thing that’s notable about the Roku Ultra: It’s the only Rou device left in the company’s line-up that still resembles the streaming boxes that the company is known for. Both the streaming sticks and the entry-level Express devices are far smaller, and don’t look at all like your typical Roku box anymore. It’s a bit of an end of an era for the company, but apparently also a response to what consumers want. “The market is moving towards a smaller form factor,” said Roku director of product management Lloyd Klarke.

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