With Brits streaming on average 99 minutes per day of on-demand content, Roku reckons our home-streaming options are now fairly well covered. But the content itself goes only halfway toward creating an immersive home-entertainment experience, with audio completing the package.
For picture quality and design, TVs get better all the time - but sound quality doesn't always improve at the same pace. It's why so many of us are investing in soundbars to boost the home-cinema experience.
Typically expensive and sometimes over-complicated add-ons, however, soundbars are not attainable by all.
Today Roku introduces its Streambar, reviewed, an affordable hybrid media-streamer and soundbar that goes on sale by the end of October at £129. It will also go on sale in the US, Canada and Mexico.
Roku is building on its Wireless Speakers and Smart Soundbar that launched in the US last year, but this new device is a more compact, refined option.
Roku Streambar: Tech Specs
A 35cm wide, 6cm high box, Roku Streambar fits a lot of audio power into such a compact device. There are four high-excursion 1.9in full-range drivers, with two facing forward for clarity and two angled to the side to fill the room.
Dolby Audio sound processing and precise digital amplifiers provide cinematic sound. And there are features to level noise by quietening loud commercials, a Night mode that boosts quiet scenes and quietens loud scenes, and Speech Clarity to boost voice volume.
Streaming video can also be of high quality, with Roku building in support for HD, 4K and 4K HDR content, with upscaling supported from 720p and 1080p. Naturally your ultimate viewing experience will be shaped by the specs of your TV and of the streaming quality of the media itself.
In the box you'll find a Roku voice remote that can also control the TV itself, plus all the necessary cables for connecting the Streambar to your TV. All you need is a spare HDMI port on your TV, though you can alternatively use an optical cable.
The Streambar also features two M6 sockets on the rear, should you want to wall-mount it. A USB port lets you hook up an external drive and access content that way, too.
Once set up you are greeted with the standard Roku OS, an intuitive user interface that simplifies finding and selecting from more than 150,000 movies and TV shows. Of course, Roku also supports music-streaming apps, including Deezer, Spotify and Tidal, and you'll find access to both the free Roku Channel and - new on Roku only this month - BBC Sounds app.
Roku will soon be the only streaming platform to offer support for Amazon Alexa, Google Assistant and Siri, with incoming AirPlay 2 and HomeKit support the other big news from the company this week. This will make it even easier to control Roku from any device, and you can also stream audio to the Soundbar over Bluetooth (and later AirPlay).
- Audio: 4x 1.9in full-range drivers; Dolby Audio
- TV support: HDTVs up to 1080p (upscaling from 720p); 4K UHD TVs up to 2160p @60fps (upscaling from 720p and 1080p); 4K UHD HDR TVs with support for HDR10 and HLG. 4K TVs must support HDMI input with HDCP 2.2
- Voice control: Google Assistant; Amazon Alexa; Apple Siri coming by year-end
- Networking: Dual-band 802.11ac Wi-Fi with MIMO; wired ethernet requires USB adapter; Bluetooth
- Mount: 2x M6 8mm threaded mounting sockets
- Power: 100-240V, 50-60Hz AC, 1A
- Dimensions: 355.6x106.6x60.9mm
- Weight: 1.09kg