Roku has not one but two things to shout about today. Firstly, it is launching a streamer-come-soundbar called the – wait for it – Streambar. And secondly, the company has announced it is bringing Apple AirPlay 2 and HomeKit support to some of its streaming devices. (In the US, it has also introduced a redesigned Roku Ultra with Dolby Vision support.)
The firm's current lineup of streaming players are easy to navigate: Roku Express is £30 ($30), Roku Premiere is £40 ($40) and Roku Streaming Stick+ is £50 ($50). Staying true to form, Roku's new product is a one-box solution that's designed to be plugged in to your TV's HDMI port with minimal fuss – only this one has sound at its core.
Enter the Roku Streambar. It's billed as "a two-in-one entertainment upgrade that adds 4K HDR streaming and cinematic sound to any TV". Essentially, it's a streaming stick and soundbar combined, and at 35cm long and 6cm high it is sort of... planter-shaped. Under the sleek hood, there's a 1.9-in full-range quad driver setup, with two speakers angled forward and two angled outward for a more immersive sound experience. It comes with a voice remote, too.
It's capable of streaming movies and TV in HD and 4K HDR picture quality. There's also Bluetooth, Spotify Connect, Amazon Alexa, Google Assistant, and soon it'll work with HomeKit and Apple AirPlay 2 as well.
You've got myriad choices for streaming content on the Roku Streambar, including BT Sport and Peloton (which are new to the platform), plus BBC Sounds, Disney Plus, Apple TV+ and more. In terms of music apps, Tidal, Deezer, Spotify and others are on the menu. Thanks to Bluetooth, any music on your smartphone can be played on the Streambar.
The Roku Streambar is due in the UK and US by the end of October for £129 ($129).
We can't yet vouch for the sonic performance, but on paper the Roku Streambar does look like an affordable way to upgrade your TV's sound and de-clutter your home cinema set-up. Watch this space for a full review.
The second bit of news should please existing Roku device owners who also own Apple kit. Roku has announced it is working with Apple to roll out new software that will bring Apple AirPlay 2 and Apple HomeKit support to some of its products.
This allow Siri to control your Roku player, making Roku the only player that'll work with all three major voice assistants (it added Google Assistant and Alexa support back in March). The upgrade will arrive in the next couple of months, says Roku, and will appear on Roku 4K TVs first.
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