Roku Introduces Wireless Speakers Exclusively Designed For Roku TVs
Roku continues to expand its expertise beyond smart TV media streaming and into the overall performance of TVs by introducing today the first Roku TV Wireless Speakers designed exclusively for use with Roku TVs.
The Roku TV Wireless Speakers are available starting today at a special one-week only introductory offer of $149.99, starting July 16th. From July 24th through October 15th the price will rise to $179.99. The regular suggested retail price is $199.99.
Roku is selling the speakers exclusively on its Roku.com website. They will not be available via retailers or Amazon, the company said.
The speakers were designed to easily hook up to any fully integrated Roku TV. They will not work with any other televisions or Roku add-on adapters, like Roku set-top boxes or Roku Streaming Sticks. That means, they will only be available for sale to customers in North America, where Roku sells fully integrated Roku TVs exclusively through a variety of manufacturer partners including: TCL, Hisense, Hitachi, Insignia, and Sharp.
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The speakers are “wireless,” meaning no wired connection between the TV and speaker is required. The connection is made over a home Wi-Fi Direct network. However, both speakers will have to be plugged into a power outlet by a good old fashion power cord. The speakers will also work with Bluetooth to connect to mobile devices to play music and control speaker volume though a supporting app.
However, they cannot be used as wireless rear-channel speakers.
Roku said the speakers were developed to be compact, yet capable of delivering a big powerful sound and deep bass, without the need for a soundbar or separate subwoofer. Because the right and left speakers handle all of the sound they can be placed up to several feet apart to provide a wide sound stage. They can also be placed on a table top or attached to a wall for wall-mounted TV applications.
The speakers are the next in a series of initiatives Roku is taking to help television makers improve the sound of their televisions and supporting soundbars to match the quality of pictures on Roku TVs. The program, which is called Roku Connect, was announced at CES 2017, when Roku and partner TCL introduced a TCL soundbar called “Alto” engineered for optimal performance with TCL’s Roku televisons.
However, Roku told HD Guru that plans to market the TCL Alto soundbar from the Roku Connect program have been delayed and that product is no longer planned to arrive this year.
Enter the Roku TV Wireless Speakers, which like the beta version of TCL Roku Alto soundbar, had an impressively large deep sound, especially when compared to the on-board speakers in the TCL Series 6 Roku TV.
Where the on-board speakers in the Series 6 television were tinny and narrow, the sound from the Roku TV Wireless speakers were deep and wide with clear and distinct vocals that appeared to be coming from center screen, despite the absence of any dedicated center speaker.
Roku said the speakers were engineered to deliver a controllable level of dialog and center channel sound using, in part, Dynastrom DSP technology tweaked to the supporting television design. Dynastrom is the Danish speaker manufacturer Roku acquired last Fall.
Although the speakers lack any internal far-field microphones for any built-in so-called smart speaker AI voice capability, the speaker volume and sound can be controlled via voice input through a mic built into a remote that comes with the speakers. A single Roku TV Voice Remote controls both the TV and the speakers, which for most Roku TV owners means the remote that comes with speakers will be an upgrade and will bring voice capability to their Roku TV through a dedicated remote instead of only through a supporting mobile app.
Roku executives said they believel the speaker remote will serve as a primary remote when most customers side down to watch their Roku TV.
But wait, there’s more: Roku is including in a bundle pack with the speakers a second Touch tabletop remote that is designed to simplify the way people control their entertainment experience in the home. The Touch uses RF and not IR codes to send control codes to the speakers/TV. This means the Touch can be placed almost anywhere in the house to have the speakers and Roku TV perform tasks, like call up an on-screen playlist from the kitchen or entryway.
Roku said the Touch is offered along with the voice-enabled remote because “sometimes the voice isn’t always the easiest way to get the command that you want.”
The Touch is equipped with a few key buttons including volume, play or pause, skip forward and/or back. Additionally, programmable preset buttons allow saving the voice command of choice.
Like Roku TVs themselves, the Roku TV Wireless Speakers are designed for easy, almost seamless setup on the TV screen.
By Greg Tarr
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