It is obviously the season for new streaming media players. We’ve seen new versions of the Apple TV, Amazon’s Fire TV, and the Google Chromecast. Roku, not to be left out of the parade, has unveiled their latest streaming player and update to their operating system. The difference is that the Roku 4 is in the 4K parade with Nvidia and Amazon, while Apple has left itself out of that march.
The Roku 4 appears to be a major leap forward for the streaming player. It supports 4K Ultra HD content with a faster quad-core processor that allows that media to stream at 60 frames per second. Nvidia’s Shield Android TV was the first player to support 4K streaming, followed by Amazon Fire TV. The new Apple TV, unfortunately, is not yet slated to support the ultra high definition streaming format.
The Roku 4 also supports 802.11ac Wi-Fi, and even has an optical audio out port, which Cupertino quietly removed from the new Apple TV.
A specially curated channel will provide instant access to 4K movies, TV shows, and other videos, and Roku lays claim to having more streaming channels of Ultra HD content than any other player.
The remote control still has voice search and a headphone jack for private listening, but now there is also a feature to help you locate the accessory when it’s misplaced. Roku’s remote is an excellent controller, and a welcome (but unmentioned) change is the removal of the Hulu button in favor of a dedicated one for Sling.
The Roku 4 is available for pre-order at $129.99, with an expected shipping date of Oct. 21.
Roku OS 7 was also unveiled alongside the new player, with updates to the Roku Feed discovery feature that allows users to follow movies, TV shows, actors, and directors, receiving updates on availability of content as well as price changes. With the latest version, when there are several related updates, users will see them grouped on the home screen.
For travelers, Roku OS 7 will provide a Hotel and Dorm Connect feature, allowing users to easily connect the streaming player to Wi-Fi networks requiring you to sign in through a Web browser. The Roku mobile app has also been redesigned to make it easier to access key features and even voice search.
Roku OS 7 is rolling out to current-generation players in the United States, Canada, and the United Kingdom beginning in mid-October and expecting to be completed in November.
It’s good to see the competition heating up in the streaming media field. I’m looking forward to putting the Roku 4 side-by-side against the new Apple TV and the Amazon Fire TV.