Roku will put streaming video into sharper focus with the launch this month of its first Ultra HD 4K set-top streaming player, the $129 Roku 4.
The device streams 4K content at 60 fps, incorporates HDMI 2.0 with HDCP 2.2 copy protection, and accesses 4K content from Netflix, M-Go, Amazon Instant Video, ToonGoogles, Vudu and YouTube.
Roku 4 will be available late October to join Amazon’s 4K Fire TV set-top streamer, which launched this week at $99 and supports 30 fps 4K video. Neither company said it is supporting high dynamic range (HDR) in their 4K set-top streamers.
“We believe it’s best to wait to see where the industry discussion goes, and where standards net out, before adding support for this feature to our product,” said a Roku spokesperson.
Amazon’s Fire TV stick and the Roku Streaming Stick support 1080p streaming but not 4K streaming.
Separately, Roku also unveiled its Roku OS 7 for the Roku 4 and as an update to existing Roku streamers. It adds new search and discovery features, a major update to the companion iOS and Android control apps, and ability to connect a Roku player, Roku TV and Roku Streaming Stick to Wi-Fi networks that require sign-in through a web browser.
Here’s what the Roku 4 offers:
To find and access 4K content quickly, Roku 4 features a curated 4K Spotlight channel that offers instant access 4K movies and TV shows. A 4K UHD category within the Roku Channel Store lets consumers find 4K streaming channels.
Compared with the $99 Roku 3 set-top streamer that remains in the line, the Roku 4 adds a quad-core processor, Wi-Fi 802.11ac with MIMO to go with b/g/n, HDCP 2.2, a remote-control finder and an optical digital-audio output.
Like the Roku 3, it features Dolby 5.1 and 7.1 passthrough, voice search, remote with headphone jack for private listening, and a MicroSD slot for storage expansion. Both models also let users cast personal content from a mobile device to a TV, which will also mirror the displays of Android and Windows devices.
Here’s what Roku OS 7 and the new Roku apps offer:
OS 7 comes with a major update to the Roku Feed so that consumers can follow not just movies but also TV shows, actors and directors to receive automatic entertainment updates about pricing and availability of newly available streaming content.
Hotel and Dorm Connect lets consumers connect a Roku player, Roku TV and Roku Streaming Stick to Wi-Fi networks that require sign-in through a web browser, usually found in hotel rooms, college dorms and other public locations. Consumers connect their Roku device to the password-protected network, and then use their tablet or mobile device’s browser to sign-in with login credentials.
The redesigned mobile app soon will let users access features such as the Roku Feed when away from home.
The app also makes it easier to find key features including Roku Search, Roku Feed, Remote Control and Play on Roku. Consumers tap the screen to access voice search, view and add to their Roku Feed, launch Play on Roku to display photos and videos, and the like
As with the Roku Home Screen, the Roku app now displays notifications to make consumers aware of new updates in the Roku Feed.
Roku OS 7 will be rolled out to current-generation Roku players and Roku TVs through a software update beginning in mid-October, with expected completion in November.