Roku introduced Monday a revamped lineup of Roku set-top streaming adapters, including the company’s first two models offering support for high dynamic range (HDR) along with 4K Ultra HD streaming.

In total, the company is adding five new models, which will be replacing many of the currently available set-top box offerings. Also with the introductions, Roku is changing its model naming practice, moving from numbers to names.

Models include the Roku Express ($29.99 suggested retail), Roku Express+ ($39.99), Roku Premiere ($79.99), Roku Premiere+ ($99.99) and Roku Ultra ($129.99). All will be available for pre-order beginning today with arrivals expected October 9th. The Roku Express+ will be available exclusively through Walmart, while all other models will be available from Roku and leading retailers including: Walmart, Best Buy, Amazon and others.

The five new streaming players will join the Roku Streaming Stick that was introduced in April.

The new models start with the entry Roku Express, which is billed as the company’s tiniest streaming box yet outside of the streaming sticks. The Roku Express offers an HDMI connection to a TV, a fast response time and support for up to Full HD 1080p video streaming. The company also announced a Roku Express+ version, which brings support for legacy television sets with analog composite audio/video (red, white and yellow) RCA jack inputs.

Two new mid-range Roku players include the Roku Premiere and Roku Premiere+, which offer 4K Ultra HD output, fast quad-core processors, upscaling of lower-resolution video to up to 4K Ultra HD at 60 fps; 802.11ac MIMO dual-band wireless connectivity; and a night listening mode setting that adjusts audio sounds to maintain volume consistency

Roku Premiere+ adds support for HDR; an enhanced point anywhere remote with headphone jack for private listening; MicroSD card slot for additional channel storage and Ethernet port for wired internet connections.

The Roku Ultra offers 4K Ultra HD with upscaling; HDR support; optical digital audio out; USB port for local media playback; point anywhere remote control with game buttons, voice search and headphone jack for private listening. The remote also includes a lost-remote-finder feature and all other features in the Premiere+.

Read more on the new Roku set-top media adapter lineup after the jump:

Lloyd Klarke, Roku product management director, said the company is refreshing its Roku media adapter lineup at a time when Roku is surging to the top of the out-boarded set-top OTT streaming device market.

As of March 2016 Roku held 49 percent share of the streaming media adapter market, followed by Chromecast (22 percent); Amazon Fire TV (16 percent); Apple TV (12 percent) and others (1 percent), according to research complied by the comScore market research firm.

In 2015 Roku viewers watched 5.5 billion hours of streamed video, and over the first half of 2016 4 billion hours already had been streamed in Roku homes, Klarke said.

“It’s Roku’s vision that all TV will be streamed at some point,” Klarke said. “What really is needed then is an operating system that will help you control [OTT] TV on your TV. That’s what Roku’s been doing – focusing on an operating system, or a platform, that will help to deliver [streaming content] through a number of different businesses and in a number of different manners, and each one of those areas has been growing tremendously over this last year. Roku TV has been doing very well, as have the sales of our Roku players.”

He pointed out that Roku recently added Hitachi as the sixth TV brand to market a line of televisions with the built-in Roku TV streaming media platform. Almost 100 different models of Roku TVs will be available over the course of 2016, Klarke said.

All of the new Roku player devices are powered by the Roku OS and feature a simple home screen with access to more than 3,500 streaming channels, including more than 350,000 movies and TV episodes.

Roku devices also offer an “unbiased” search function to help users find movies and programs from more than 100 streaming channels. Users can search for a movie or TV show via its title, genre or an actor’s or director’s name. Roku then presents a list of options in order of price starting with free content and working up.

Another feature in the new Roku streaming adapters is “hotel and dorm connect,” which first introduced for the latest Streaming Stick, that makes it easy to access Roku service on public Internet networks that require a browser to log in. This makes it easy to use a Roku device while traveling.

To control programming, the devices have an included remote and will also work via a free Roku mobile app for iOS and Android mobile devices. The app includes a keyboard and offers features like voice search, and private listening.

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Roku said the Roku Express and Roku Express+ are positioned as solutions for consumers who want a low-cost way to start streaming and for those who want to inexpensively add streaming capability to additional televisions sets throughout the home. The Roku Express comes with a high-speed HDMI cable while the Roku Express+ comes with a set of composite A/V cables.

The Roku Premiere and Premiere+ are offered for those looking for a powerful set-top media adapter with a huge selection of apps and the speed and power to play 4K Ultra HD resolution content at up to 60 fps. The HDMI output offers support for HDCP 2.2 content protection and is capable of up to 60 fps 4K UHD playback.

The Roku Premiere+ and Roku Ultra also now support HDR for properly equipped TVs. The feature sends signals carrying HDR metadata that instructs an HDR display to show the content with a wider range of contrast than traditional televisions and offers enhanced colors along with visible detail in bright whites and deep blacks.

By Greg Tarr


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