Published: Tue, October 03, 2017
Research | By Derrick Holloway

Roku Lowers the Price on 4K, but Does It Matter?

Roku Lowers the Price on 4K, but Does It Matter?

Los Gatos, Calif. -based Roku announced five new streaming players, priced from $29 to $99, as it prepares for the holiday shopping season. OS 8 adds search and voice control features and brings the over-the-air and over-the-top viewing and searching experiences closer together.

The most basic of Roku's new devices, the $30 Roku Express and $40 Express+, are five times more powerful than their predecessors, according to Roku. All were extant products that have simply been refreshed.

However, it's Roku's software and content selection that's always made the platform stand out.

If you're a streaming stick purist and discount the dongles, the Roku Streaming Stick+ is the first of its kind - an innovation built on the back of other innovations.

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There are some updates arriving in Roku OS 8 for all Roku device owners, but those who use their devices alongside an over-the-air antenna will want to pay special attention to this release. The Roku Express+ adds composite A/V ports in addition to HDMI for those that need to connect to older televisions. Roku are taking pre-orders from today and the new devices will launch on the 8th of October. It goes for $49.99. Roku says the Streaming Stick+ can get four times the wireless range as last year's streaming stick.

The Roku Streaming Stick+ is an updated version of the company's streaming stick that adds 4K and HDR streaming at up to 60 frames per second.

Finally, the company is reducing the suggested retail price of its flagship Roku Ultra model to $100.

First, the absence of Dolby Vision leaves the Chromecast Ultra and the new Apple TV 4K as the only streamers now available with that format. Meanwhile, a remote finder button on the device will help users locate the remote if it becomes lost. The box also features an Ethernet port as well as support for USB.

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Last year, Roku brought in close to $400 million United States dollars revenue, which is up 25% from the $320 million USD of 2015. It'll also point you towards 4K HDR content.

Roku, Amazon and Apple have all advanced with improvements such as 4K, better search functionality and voice control support. It's meant to rival Amazon's new Fire TV dongle. Each is also designed with a more modern stick form-factor than previous models. Apple is reportedly investing more than $1 billion in original content annually. They include CBS, which premiered Star Trek: Discovery exclusively on CBS All Access last week. Roku OS 8 features the Smart Guide, a program grid that combines over-the-air options (for TVs with an antenna) with streaming options. Voice control and search have also been updated with enhanced natural language understanding.

Roku's pricing and broadcast TV support place it downmarket from the Apple TV, but these devices' internals are likely not as fast, and none of them support Dolby Vision. That makes it cheaper than Apple's alternative - but not Amazon's.

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