Roku said unveiled Monday a latest Roku Streaming Stick 4K, bringing more power and capabilities to the popular add-on stream platform, and at the same time announced the it will soon be rolling out a new Roku OS v.10.5 update for hits family of streaming products.

The Roku Streaming Stick 4K will be available in two bundle versions — the Roku Streaming Stick 4K with a basic Roku remote for a $49.99 suggested retail price and a version bundled with Roku’s latest rechargeable hands-free Voice Remote Pro with on-board private listening, called the Roku Streaming Stick 4K+, for $69.99.

Both models will also support the new AV1 codec used by YouTube, Netflix and others and will be available from leading Roku retailers and the Roku web site beginning in October.

Roku is also adding on a Roku Ultra Lite high-end 4K/HDR streaming adapter as an exclusive through Walmart stores for a $79.99 suggested retail price. That product, like the new Streaming Stick 4K models, will include support for Dolby Vision HDR and other advanced features.

As for the new Roku OS 10.5, owners of Roku products will soon be receiving an automated firmware update that includes performance enhancements to “get customers to content more quickly” along with improvements to the Roku Voice control use and functionality, new features for the Roku mobile app, and expanded surround sound among a host of updates.

“The Roku Streaming Stick has been a fan favorite for years and we’ve redesigned it in the Roku Streaming Stick 4K to be faster and more powerful than ever,” stated Mark Ely, Roku retail product strategy VP. “It’s super-charged so you can stream in beautiful 4K and Dolby Vision even at a distance from your router and tucked neatly behind your TV.”

Ely said the Roku Streaming Stick 4K and Streaming Stick 4K+ include a new more power processor that will enable up to 30% improvement in boot up time with smooth streaming in content including 4K UHD with support for both the Dolby Vision and HDR10+ dynamic metadata high dynamic range (HDR) profiles.

The new stick also includes a redesigned long-range Wi-Fi receiver that is said to allow up to 2x faster Wi-Fi speeds with good stability.

As with previous Roku Streaming Stick new new Streaming Stick 4K features a sleek diminutive design that is easily connected to HDMI and USB power ports and hidden from view.

The set-up is as simple as ever, and the platform continues to provide a wealth of premium and live streaming app services and ad-supported free streaming content through The Roku Channel and other AVOD streaming service partners, the company said.

The new dongle also brings improvements in voice search functionality making it easy to find favorite content hands free by speaking simple commands. Roku has also updated its user help service to help users find and learn simple command phrases for the most effective results.

Users will have even greater ability to search for specific content, actors, genres etc by speaking their searches.

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Additional features include the following:

* Dolby Vision and HDR10+ dynamic metadata for 4K HDRcontent with four times the resolution of HD.
* A new quad-core processor boots up to 30% faster and the re-designed long range wireless receiver offers up 2x faster Wi-Fi speeds, enabling content to load quicker and navigation to feel snappier.
* Clutter-free setup that supports both table-top and wall mounted TVs as well as the ability to bring streaming service on trips and vacations.
* Voice remote with TV controls powers up the TV, adjusts the volume, and controls the Roku Streaming Stick 4K device with one remote. Roku Voice can be used to quickly search for and access desired programs.
* Compatibility with multiple third-party voice control platforms including Alexa and Google Assistant and support for Apple AirPlay 2 to stream, control and share content directly from an iPhone, iPad or Mac. The stick will also use Apple HomeKit to easily and securely control Roku devices using Siri and the Home app on Apple devices.

The Roku Streaming Stick 4K bundle with the Voice Remote Prom additionally adds a rechargeable battery and a voice activated lost remote finder, “Hey Roku, find my remote.” It also incudes personal shortcut buttons, private listening via ear buds connected to the remote, and the option of hands-free and/or push to talk Roku Voice input.

In other news, the Roku Ultra LT has been refreshed with a faster processor, more storage, and a new Wi-Fi radio that provides up to 50% longer range than the previous model. Roku said these changes help provide the smoothest and snappiest possible streaming experience.

The Roku Ultra LT now also supports Dolby Vision HDR, Bluetooth audio streaming and built-in ethernet support.

The Roku Ultra LT will be available exclusively through Walmart in the U.S. available in the coming weeks for $79.99.

Also available in the United States now is the latest Roku Express, The Roku Express 4K, the regular Roku Ultra, the Roku Streambar and the Roku Streambar Pro.

Meanwhile, the Roku Mobile App and new Roku OS 10.5 will be bringing enhancements and improvements via pushed updates in coming weeks. .

Among the new features in the Roku OS 10.5 and/or Roku Mobile App are the following:

  • A live TV channel guide will be added to U.S. Roku Streaming Players bringing the more than 200 free live TV channels from the The Roku Channel directly to the home screen for instant access.
  • Roku voice control has been improved with an expanded number of apps and content that can be directly accessed by voice commands. The company said that now nearly any channel available through Roku Search will be accessible in this way,
  • The Roku Mobile App will get a new Home Tab and Save List providing easy access to entertainment selections and features by titles genres and other criteria, and movies and TV shows can now be added to the Save List to watch later. The Save List can be accessed via the Home and Remote tabs.
  • Better integration of music content from across the Roku platform using voice search to quickly playback music, podcasts and video podcasts, including selections available through Spotify.
  • Simplified setup and use with voice keyboards, enabling data entry using email, password, and PIN. Roku Voice can be used to complete device setup or log into supported apps by entering email, password, and PIN information by spoken commands through voice Roku Voice compatible keyboards, which display a microphone icon, so users can quickly identify when voice entry option is supported.
  • The Roku Mobile App in the U.S. can now control Roku audio devices sound settings, such as night mode, automatic volume leveling and speech clarity, directly in the mobile app. This enables fast and convenient adjustment to sound settings without interrupting entertainment, music, or games through the onscreen settings menu.
  • Wireless mobile private listening with Roku streaming players using intelligent Audio/Video sync adjustment based on the type of headphones connected. The advanced A/V sync feature enables further refinements using a smartphone camera if needed by measuring the TV screen and automatically adjusting the audio delay between the wireless headphones and the TV. This feature comes into play when wireless headphones are connected to the Roku mobile app and will be found in the settings menu
  • New surround sound configurations will be available in the U.S. for Roku Streambar, Roku StreambarPro, and Roku Smart Soundbars enabling additional speaker configurations with the introduction of 3.1 and 5.1 surround sound compatibility. Roku Wireless Speakers can now be used as front speakers with the Roku Streambar, Roku Streambar Pro, and Roku Smart Soundbar creating a 3.1 (Left/Center/Right) or full 5.1 surround sound system when used with rear speakers.
  • Roku Voice Help has been added to the settings menu to help Roku users learn the most effective voice command phrases to search for movies and TV shows, launch channels, play music, control playback, and more. Roku Voice Remote Pro will also provide tips on using hands-free voice.

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By Greg Tarr

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