September 22, 2021
Roku announced its Streaming Stick 4K, a $49.99 device that is faster with better sound integration than the popular Streaming Stick+ it replaces. Available next month, the Streaming Stick 4K offers a boot speed that’s about 30 percent faster, with a new long-range Wi-Fi receiver that boosts it up to twice as fast. It features Dolby Vision HDR, dynamically adjusting contrast frame-by-frame and adds the ability to create 5.1 surround sound. The new model also comes with a push-to-talk voice remote. Those who prefer hands-free can upgrade to the $69.99 Streaming Stick 4K+.
The 4K+ (pictured below) comes with Voice Remote Pro, which has a rechargeable battery and mid-field microphones that make it sensitive enough to pick up commands from around the room.
Separately, Roku announced it is adding “the ability to create a 5.1 surround system using any of its soundbars — a Streambar, Streambar Pro and Smart Soundbar — two pairs of its Roku Wireless Speakers, and a Wireless Subwoofer,” notes The Verge (pointing out that Roku streamers were previously limited to just the soundbar, sub, and rear surrounds). The new configuration, which uses the soundbar as a dedicated center channel, “lets the front left and right speakers provide more immersion.”
The 5.1 does not require the new Streaming Stick 4K and can be implemented as part of the Roku OS 10.5 update being made available in the next few weeks and full of stream-enhancing features. Roku OS 10.5 also adds enhanced features for headphones and Spotify.
TCL plans to release a Roku TV Wireless Soundbar for $179.99 in October. When paired to a Roku TV the new TLC soundbar will integrate soundbar controls in TV menus, automatically sync audio and video and allow cordless speaker placement.
The Streaming Stick 4K also supports HDR10. Like its earlier iteration, the Streaming Stick 4K supports Apple’s AirPlay 2 and HomeKit, plugs into a TV’s HDMI port and can also link to Amazon Alexa or Google Assistant smart homes.
The Streaming Stick 4K is scheduled to be available at Roku.com and on retail shelves in mid-October in the U.S. and will be made available in Canada, Mexico, and other Latin America countries in the months ahead, the company said.
Engadget writes that the Walmart exclusive Roku Ultra LT ($80) will also be reintroduced with Dolby Vision, a faster processor and better Wi-Fi this year.