The Roku 4 set top box is capable of streaming 4K content at up to 60 fps.
On top of the box is a mystery button that has kept anxious onlookers guessing for the past week or so.
While products like the Apple TV take aim at the high-end market, Roku has reached a large audience – 7.5 million active users – by selling through retailers like Walmart and, as of a year ago, partnering directly with TV manufacturers to make internet-enabled TVs with built-in streaming capabilities. Roku’s streaming boxes aren’t cool or stylish, at least not in a threatening way.
Otherwise, the new OS looks strikingly similar to the 1080p interface existing Roku users are familiar with, and newcomers find immediately welcoming. Alongside search, Roku Feed also made its first appearance.
Roku hopes to address that with an updated Roku Feed with the new OS that expands on the “Movies Coming Soon” feature that Roku bowed in April.
Roku is also booting up a new mobile app (starting with iOS and Android, with plans for a Windows Phone version) that will continue to complement the on-screen experience, but also provide features, such as search, that users can access when it’s not tethered to the Roku device.
Travelers will appreciate the new Hotel and Dorm Connect feature, which make it easy to use Rokus on networks that require signing in through a browser. Roku has no skin in the game of serving you a movie on a specific platform, instead it’s universal search simply surfaces the easiest, cheapest way to watch what you want, when you want. Using the new Roku mobile app, users will be able to enter these login credentials and have them applied to their Roku device for use in hotels, dorm rooms, and any number of other public locations. (That should cut down on time spent blindly staring at menu screens.) Meanwhile, voice search works in the mobile app as well. The new device will also provide a channel/shortcut that shows 4K fare from sources ranging from Netflix, M-Go, Amazon Instant Video, ToonGoolges, Vudu and YouTube.
When will I get Roku OS 7?
The software update will be rolled out to current-generation Roku players and Roku TVs beginning in mid-October and is expected to be completed in November.
How does it stack up?
Over the past few months, Apple unveiled a new Apple TV, Amazon updated its Fire TV box and Fire TV Stick, and Google added some color to its new Chromecast dongles.
As with its other media-streaming boxes, Roku’s downplaying most of the specs, choosing not to compete purely by numbers. A PR representative from Roku says the tone will change based on which theme is now running on your Roku (and yes, there will be a Star Trek theme with the door-opening sound effect in case you were wondering). Misplace the Roku 4 remote? The Roku 4 is also smart enough to know when you need more streaming power with its auto-detect feature that recognizes the video quality of the content you’re streaming and adjust the playback quality to match it. We’ll see how it all plays out in real life when we get our hands on one.