Today was a big day for streaming-box manufacturer Roku: the San Jose-based company announced new products and software features, including another entry into the world of home-theater audio and an update to a popular existing device that adds some of the most requested features.
First up, Roku is making several changes to its highest-end streaming box, the Roku Ultra. It still costs $99, and most of its features are the same. So what’s new? Well, wireless signal has long been a thorn in Roku’s side—many households have weak or suboptimally placed routers. To that end, Roku claims that the new Ultra manages 50 percent more wireless range. It also adds Bluetooth connectivity for the first time, so you’ll be able to use wireless headphones and the like.
The big addition, though, is the introduction of Dolby Vision HDR support (and Dolby Atmos, too). We knocked some prior Roku devices for supporting only the HDR-10 standard, but this update means the Ultra can now deliver good HDR on a whole range of content that was optimized for Dolby Vision.
Second, Roku has introduced what it calls a “2-in-1” soundbar called the Streambar—which is not the company’s first soundbar, to be clear. It’s 2-in-1 because it doubles as both your standard, apartment-ready, better-than-your-TV-speakers soundbar and as a Roku streaming device like the Ultra that can actually deliver content to your TV. As for streaming quality, Streambar is 4K and HDR, which is what you’d expect from a device launching in 2020, and it connects to the TV via HDMI (provided that