Roku Reintroduces Premiere and Premiere+ STBs, Now With 4K
Fall is the time for Roku to freshen it's lineup, and this year that means a combination of something old and something new. Last year, Roku simplified its line by ditching its Premiere and Premiere+ set-top boxes (STBs). This year it's bringing them back, and it's adding 4K support.
The Premiere lists for $39.99, supports 4K Ultra HD and 4K HDR, and comes with a standard remote that requires a line-of-sight connection. It uses a quad-core processor, has an HDMI port, and is only slightly larger than the Roku Streaming Stick. The Premiere+ is sold exclusively by Walmart and lists for $49.99. It has the same features as the Premiere, but comes with an advanced remote with power and volume buttons, and which does not require a line-of-sight connection.
Roku is also upgrading its top-of-the-line Ultra ($99.99), which now ships with JBL headphones.
Roku's other four models—Express, Express+, Streaming Stick, and Streaming Stick+—haven't been changed this year.
In an interview, Roku vice president of product management Mark Ely said many of the people buying STBs now are late adopters looking to finally try streaming. They aren't looking for the most fully-featured products, but rather an inexpensive way to sample what they've heard about.
Roku's refreshed models will be available in early October.
The long-awaited Roku TV Wireless Speakers, which will work with Roku TVs (but not STBs) and list for $199.99, will be available in November. They'll ship with two speaker and two remotes, one a new Roku Touch remote that offers an easy way to control music playback.
To prepare for the speakers, Roku is rolling out OS 8.2, which should be completed by early November. The update brings iHeartRadio, Pandora, and TuneIn voice support for speaker owners. They'll also get settings for automatic volume leveling to tone down loud commercials, and speech clarity to boost the volume of dialog.
Once Roku is finished with that upgrade it will start upgrading devices to OS 9. Starting in early November, OS 9 will bring automatic volume leveling to some STBs and Roku TVs. This OS will also enhance the voice search by letting people search by genre when looking for free, ad-supported TV shows and movies. The OS 9 upgrade should be completed early in 2019
The Roku Premiere+
An upgrade to the Roku OS will offer curated selections for popular searches, the ability to search by movie quote, and a sleep timer for Roku TVs.
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The lowest-priced stick device for 4K video—as well as Dolby Vision and HDR-10+ support—the Fire TV Stick 4K lists for $49.99.