Roku makes what are probably the most popular online-streaming receivers currently available; in any event, they offer access to the widest range of streaming outlets. Today, Roku announces the Roku 4 UHD/4K streamer, which adds UHD/4K at up to 60 frames per second using the HEVC codec to Roku’s lineup. (YouTube uses the older VP9 codec, which the Roku 4 can stream at up to 30 fps in UHD resolution.) And of course, it can also stream 1080p to HDTVs.
The Roku 4’s quad-core processor brings plenty of power to the table, and its HDMI output includes HDCP 2.2. Available UHD/4K sources include Netflix, M-Go, Amazon Instant Video, Toon Goggles, Vudu, and YouTube. A “4K UHD” category within the Roku Channel Store makes it easy to find UHD content, and a curated 4K Spotlight channel offers instant access to UHD/4K movies and TV shows. Wi-Fi is delivered via 802.11ac MIMO (multiple-input/multiple-output) RF (radio frequency) for optimum performance.
Also announced today is the new Roku 7 OS, which runs on the Roku 4 as well as current-generation models, including the $50 Roku Stick. Among its features is an update to Roku Feed, which lets users “follow” their favorite movies, TV shows, actors, and directors as well as movies in commercial cinemas, and it alerts them when their favorite content is available for streaming from any of the supported sources—and at what price.
The mobile functionality has been upgraded as well. For example, the new Hotel and Dorm Connect feature lets you stream wirelessly from remote locations that require log-on credentials to access the local network. And the mobile app for iOS and Android has been redesigned to provide more control from a smartphone or tablet, and it will soon add an on-the-go mode that allows access to features such as Roku Feed while you’re away from home.
Even the remote is way cool, with voice search and a headphone jack. Even better, a Remote Finder function helps you find the remote by pushing a button on the Roku box, which causes the remote to emit a sound. These features are not new to the Roku 4, but they are still cool.
The Roku 4 will list for $130, and the company is taking orders for it today; the expected ship date is October 21. The Roku 7 OS will be available for current-generation Roku streamers and TVs with a firmware update beginning in mid-October.
Clearly, the Roku 4 surpasses the new Apple TV and Google Chromecast streamers in that it can stream UHD/4K—but so can the new Amazon Fire TV, TiVo Bolt, and Nvidia Shield. Which one is best? Only time and experience will tell, so stay tuned for more on all of these devices.