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Roku launches new 4K streaming stick, will add voice controls for Netflix and Spotify

Roku, gearing up for the 2021 holiday shopping season, unveiled the all-new Roku Streaming Stick 4K — priced at $50, the same as its previous-generation model. It’s also releasing the Roku OS 10.5 operating system with a bunch of enhancements, including new voice controls for Netflix and Spotify.

The Roku Streaming Stick 4K is up to 30% faster than its previous stick, which enables smoother streaming in 4K, Dolby Vision and HDR10+, according to Roku. It also has a redesigned long-range Wi-Fi receiver that delivers speeds up to twice as fast. In addition, the company’s Roku Streaming Stick 4K Plus ($70) bundles the dongle with the Roku Voice Remote Pro, which provides a rechargeable battery, a voice-activated lost remote finder, and hands-free voice support, among other features.

Somewhat confusingly, the previous Roku Streaming Stick Plus also has support for 4K and HDR. For the new model, “we called out 4K [in the name] because we know more customers are looking for that more and more,” said Mark Ely, VP of retail product strategy.

The Roku Streaming Stick 4K will available in mid-October at major U.S. retailers and online; the product will be coming to Canada, Mexico and other Latin American countries in the coming months.

On the media player side, the Roku Ultra LT ($80) has been refreshed with a faster processor, more storage, and a new Wi-Fi radio that provides up to 50% longer range than the previous model, as well as support for Dolby Vision and Bluetooth audio streaming. The Roku Ultra LT will be available exclusively at Walmart in the U.S.

Meanwhile, in a limited-time promo with WarnerMedia, Roku is offering a 30-day free trial of HBO Max with every Roku streaming device purchased and activated between Oct. 1, 2011-Jan. 14, 2022.

Roku OS 10.5: Feature Highlights

The upgraded Roku OS 10.5 already has started rolling out to the company’s streaming devices and the update will be coming to all backward-compatible Roku players and TVs in the coming weeks. Key features include:

  • Roku Voice: New channels that support voice commands for direct playback include Netflix and Spotify, in addition to those including Disney Plus, Hulu and Pandora. In addition, customers can use Roku Voice to enter login info (like email, password and PIN).
  • Roku Mobile App Home Tab and Save List: The newly added Home tab in the Roku Mobile app features Zones, browsable collections of movies and TV shows available across top genres and popular/seasonal topics. Users also can save movies and TV shows to the Save List to watch later when they’re in front of their TV again.
  • Live TV Channel Guide (U.S. only): Roku player users can now add the Roku Channel’s Live TV Channel Guide, which includes 200-plus free live TV channels, directly to their home screen for one-click access.
  • Sound Settings via the Roku Mobile App (U.S. only): Customers can now control their Roku audio device’s sound settings, such as night mode, automatic volume leveling and speech clarity, directly in the mobile app.
  • Roku Search Music and Podcast Row: Spotify is the launch partner for a row showing visual search results for music and podcasts.
  • Roku Voice Help: A new menu that provides info on the kinds of commands Roku Voice supports and provides examples, like how to search for movies and TV shows, launch channels, play music or control playback.
  • New Surround Sound Configurations (U.S.): Roku soundbar owners now have access to additional speaker configurations with the introduction of 3.1 and 5.1 surround sound compatibility. BCS Bureau
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