Hot on the heels of announcements about the new Apple TV, the shiny TiVo Bolt, Fire TV, and the updated Chromecast, Roku has thrown its hat into the ring with the Roku 4. Like the other new entrants, the Roku 4 works hard to bring some new features to the table, but offers a very familiar core package.
Let’s talk about those new features. First off the bat, there’s a whole lot of support for 4K and 4K video content, including 4K labels so you can quickly tell what content is in ultra HD, and what Roku is claiming to be more 4K channels at launch than its competitors.
The interface, through which you can brows 300,000 movies and TV episodes on more than 3,000 channels, has also received an update. Controls for apps like Netflix and other types of browsing have been streamlined as well. There’s also an increased focus on voice search, so you don’t have to mess around with the remote to search for a particular show.
Speaking of that remote, it comes with a few unique features of its own. First, there’s a little headphone jack on the side. This is designed for those semi-awkward evenings where you want to watch something but your SO/family prefers silence or another alternative. Plug in your headphones, and only you will hear sound from the Roku. There is also a Remote Finder function, which is getting an awful lot of attention for a button that makes a beeping sound.
Roku has also including a variety of other functionality options in the Roku 4. You can use the remote as a controller for even more Roku games. Roku Feed has been updated to follow various entertainment people or content with greater clarity. Fortunately, the changes don’t make the new model feel too bogged down. If you need a set-top box, this is a great place to start.
The price is higher than previous Roku models at $130, but note that there’s no service fee, and this still compares favorably with the prices of new set-top boxes. The Apple TV, selling at $150, is one of the closest in terms of price. You can preorder the Roku 4 now if you like: Shipments will start in late October.