Review: Roku Streambar

Today I’m reviewing a 2 in 1 device called the Roku Streambar. It combines a Roku streaming device that is capable of 4K with a compact sound bar that is capable of Dolby Audio.

Here’s what you get in the box:

Besides the Streambar and the power cable, you get an high speed HDMI cable, a optical cable which you only need if your TV doesn’t have an HDMI-ARC port, and a remote with AAA batteries.

On the back of the Streambar you get power, optical, HDMI, USB ports along with a reset button. The Streambar does support Ethernet via a USB adapter that is an optional extra. Out of the box you can connect the streaming part of the Streambar to your network via 802.11ac MiMO WiFi.

This is the Streambar set up and functioning normally.

It is tiny by sound bar standards. It also doesn’t take up a whole lot of real estate as it’s about a third of the size of a typical sound bar. That’s great if you need the space. It also has a pair of mounting holes on the back so that you can mount it to a wall if you wish.

Speaking of the set up process, it was laughably easy. I plugged it into the HDMI-ARC port of my TV and then followed the directions onscreen to set it up. Including adding it to my WiFi network and software updates, it took me ten minutes to set it up. I might have been able to set it up quicker if I didn’t put one of the AAA batteries into the remote backwards. As part of the process, the streaming half of the Streambar automatically optimizes itself for my TV so that it can stream in 4K HDR.

The Streambar has four internal speakers that point in different directions so that it fills your room with sound. You can easily tweak your sound to highlight voices for example, or level the sound, or reduce bass. And it did a good job of filling my living room with sound despite being a physically small sound bar. The sound is very rich, clear, and detailed. This was true whether I was watching regular TV, a movie, or playing a video game. I was kind of surprised at a sound bar at this price point could be this good. More on the price in a moment.

The Streambar comes with Roku OS 9.4 which as part of its feature set is supposed to come with Apple HomeKit and AirPlay 2 support. However, I could not find this support for either in the product. A quick email exchange with Roku confirmed that this is still coming later this year. It makes sense as my TCL TV which has Roku functionality that needed to be updated to Roku OS 9.4 so that I can test the Streambar doesn’t have HomeKit and AirPlay 2 support either. But until AirPlay 2 and HomeKit support makes an appearance, you can stream music to the Streambar via Bluetooth which sounded really good. On the downside, I had to switch to the Streambar to stream music via Bluetooth. And I had to use the remote (which by the way supports voice commands) that came with the Streambar to use it. Maybe I am doing something wrong here, but assuming that I am not doing something wrong, I would have liked to see a bit more integration between the two devices.

In my opinion, if you don’t have a Roku device, the Streambar is a great way to get streaming and upgraded sound onto your “dumb” TV. As always Roku brings a large channel selection to the table. So at what this costs, it’s a total win. If you’re like me and have a Roku TV, in my case a TCL TV, you’ll get upgraded sound. But you’ll also get a second Roku device that you won’t be using most if the time. In my case, I only used it when I was streaming music via bluetooth after I was finished my initial testing. But in either case, the Streambar only costs $189.99. So even in my use case it’s still a win. The Roku Streambar is very much worth a look if you want to bring better sound to your TV along with streaming to your TV at a good price.

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