The new Roku Ultra.Roku
Using a Roku to stream 4K, ultra-HD TV and movies just got a lot cheaper.
The company just announced three new additions to its lineup of streaming devices — the Roku Premiere, Premiere+, and Ultra. These members of the Roku family were technically already on the market before, but these new models announced on Monday have notable upgrades, not to mention slashed prices.
By offering 4K streaming for as cheap as $40, Roku is taking on competitors like Google and Amazon, which both offer their respective 4K streaming devices for around $70 each. The Roku Premiere, its flagship 4K streaming device, was offered at that same $70 price point, but that’s now down to $40 with this new model.
All three devices are available for pre-order, and will be shipped in October.
Here’s what they’re like:
The Roku Premiere is the company’s cheapest 4K streaming device, at $40.
The Premiere features streaming in 1080p, 4K, and HDR, with up to 60 frames per second. The device uses a standard infrared remote, with no voice controls. However, Roku’s free mobile app lets you search for TV, movies, and other videos with your voice.
This newer version of the Premiere features a smaller body than the previous, and its price was lowered from $70 to $40.
The Premiere+ is nearly identical to the Premiere, but it’s only available at Walmart. However, the $50 device features a voice-enabled remote.
The Premiere+ is a Walmart exclusive. It’s identical to it cheaper cousin, with the notable exception that the remote has a microphone so you can search Roku content with your voice.
The Roku Ultra is the most feature-packed and expensive member of the Roku family, priced at $100.
The Roku Ultra isn’t receiving any significant upgrades from its previous iterations. But it will now include a pair of JBL headphones for free, usually priced at $40.
Those headphones will come in handy, too: One of the main differences between this model and the cheaper devices is that users can plug headphones into the Ultra’s remote. That allows them to quietly listen to streamed shows or movies without bothering or waking anyone else in their home.
here’s also a “lost remote finder” feature, which plays a sound from the remote after you press a button on the Ultra device. Like the Premiere+, the Ultra features voice control via remote.
Aside from a nicer remote, the Roku Ultra also supports 1080p and 4K streaming, additional storage through micro SD cards or USB, and a “night listening” mode that levels out the sound by lowering high-volume moments and raising low-volume moments. You can also connect the Ultra to the internet via an ethernet port, if the wifi in your home isn’t optimal for streaming — a feature that the Premiere lineup lacks.
All three Roku devices are advertised as having access to more than 500,000 movies and TV shows.
Google’s $70 Chromecast Ultra is an obvious 4K-streaming competitor to the Premiere lineup, but Roku beats Google in price.
Google’s 4K Chromecast Ultra is pretty similar to what Roku offers, but at $70, comes at a higher price than Roku’s entry-level options.
However, the Chromecast Ultra features an ethernet port, something that Roku’s Premiere lineup doesn’t have. It’s also compatible with the Google Assistant and Google Home devices, so you can control it with just your voice, no remote required — but Roku just announced compatibility with Google Home and Assistant as well, so that gap is narrowing.
It should be noted that the Chromecast is purely a streaming device, and doesn’t feature internal storage like Amazon’s or Roku’s devices.
Amazon’s Fire TV is normally listed at $70, but the price has recently been lowered to $40.
Amazon’s 4K Fire TV is also pretty similar to Roku’s lineup. It’s not clear whether the price drop from $70 to $40 is a temporary reduction, or a permanent price drop.
The Fire TV has an ethernet port, 8GB of internal storage, and supports voice control via Alexa through the remote. It’s also compatible with Amazon’s Echo lineup of home speakers, so if you’re already invested in the Amazon ecosystem, the Fire TV might make the most sense. Roku’s devices currently do not support Alexa control.