Roku’s taking a more subdued approach to the 2022 holiday shopping season. Instead of updating or releasing several new hardware products, the streaming giant is focussing on two new products — a revamped Express and a completely new Roku Wireless Bass speaker — along with a new software experience for owners of Roku streaming devices.
The $29.99 Roku Express and the $129.99 Roku Wireless Bass speaker are now available for preorder, with the Express shipping in mid-October and the Wireless Bass shipping on Nov. 7. In addition to selling the Wireless Bass on its own to enhance existing Roku systems, Roku is also bundling the Streambar with the Wireless Bass for $249.99. The bundle is also available to preorder right now, with deliveries starting on the same Nov. 7 date.
Just what are you getting with each new product? And what’s all the fuss about improved software? Let’s dig in.
The Roku Express has long been the most affordable streaming device in Roku’s lineup, and that’s not going to change with this year’s update. You can still get the small black streaming device that plugs directly into your TV’s HDMI port for $29.99.
For that, you’ll get a device that streams Roku’s own content along with all of the major streaming services in 1080p high definition.
The biggest change Roku made to the 2022 Express is the addition of dual-band Wi-Fi, which should improve connectivity and speed if you have a home Wi-Fi system that operates on 2.4GHz and 5Ghz channels.
Still included in the box is Roku’s base model remote for controlling the Express. You can also add the Express to Apple HomeKit, Google Home or Amazon Alexa to control your TV and what you’re watching using any one of the major smart home systems.
You can order the Express right now for $29.99 from Roku, and on Oct. 16 at most major retailers. It’ll start shipping in the middle of October — just in time for the holidays.
Roku Wireless Bass
Roku’s expanding its wireless speaker offering with the addition of the $129.99 Roku Wireless Bass. You can pair the new speaker with the Roku Streambar, Roku Wireless Speakers or Roku TV Wireless Soundbar to improve the overall sound quality and experience.
As its name implies, the Wireless Bass doesn’t need to be physically connected to any Roku devices. You only need to plug it in to power, then follow the setup instructions on your Roku device to add it to your setup. It doesn’t matter where you place it in your room, according to Roku; it just needs to be within 30 feet of your TV.
Roku is selling the Wireless Bass as a stand-alone device for $129.99 or in a bundle with the Roku Streambar for $249.99. The Streambar in the bundle doubles as a 4K Streaming device and a soundbar — and with the addition of a dedicated speaker for bass, you’re sure to have a well-rounded audio experience.
Roku’s latest software experience
If you’re not in the market for a new Roku device, you’re still in for a treat this year. Roku announced OS 11.5, which will start rolling out to all compatible Roku devices in the “coming months.”
The update includes several improvements, ranging from a new home screen menu with The Buzz that helps Roku owners discover new shows, along with posts that highlight content.
A new Continue Watching feature makes it easy to pick up where you left off when streaming a show or movie, with HBO Max, Netflix, Paramount+ and the Roku Channel supporting the new feature at launch.
Save List is exactly what it sounds like — an option to save shows or movies you’ve discovered and want to watch later. Your list is synced across Roku devices, including the mobile app for easy access later.
One of the biggest features added to OS 11.5 is an expansion of Roku’s private listening feature. Roku owners will have the option to connect any Bluetooth-compatible headphones or earbuds to the Roku Ultra, Streambar and Streambar Pro. When connected, any audio will be routed to the headphones, allowing you to watch a show without annoying your roommate or partner.