Archive for Roku

Review: Roku Streambar

Posted in Products with tags on October 15, 2020 by itnerd

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.

Roku Announces Roku Streambar In Canada And Apple AirPlay 2 & HomeKit Support For Some Roku 4K TVs

Posted in Commentary with tags on September 28, 2020 by itnerd

Roku today announced the Roku Streambar in Canada, a two-in-one entertainment upgrade that adds 4K HDR streaming and cinematic sound to any TV. The Roku Streambar is an affordable way for consumers to upgrade and de-clutter their entertainment setup at home.

Roku Streambar

Roku Streambar is the ultimate 2-in-1 entertainment upgrade with powerful streaming and premium sound for any TV with HDMI, including Roku TV™ models. Hear every detail as you stream in vibrant 4K HDR picture quality on compatible TVs. With its compact acoustic design and powerful signal processing, its center drivers deliver crisp, clean audio that makes dialogue easier to hear while its angled side drivers fill the room with sound. The Roku Streambar can also quiet loud commercials automatically. Control the Roku Streambar by speaking to Amazon Alexa and/or Google Assistant devices, plus, consumers can expect to stream videos, music and more with AirPlay 2 and HomeKit by the end of the year. Setup is simple with everything in the box, including a voice remote that controls your TV power, sound, and streaming.

Features include:

  • Brilliant 4K picture: Stream movies and TV in HD, 4K, and 4K HDR picture quality.
  • Big sound: Four 1.9” full range drivers fill the room with rich Dolby Audio.
  • Smarter than the average soundbar: Advanced audio engineering within the Roku OS helps Roku Streambar produce sound well beyond its size while increasing speech clarity and adding intricate depth to music.
  • Easily accessible sound settings: Simple volume modes make it easy to adjust sound. Automatically lower loud commercials, boost the volume of voices, and optimise the sound for night listening.
  • Spotify Connect: Spotify is available on the Roku platform and with Spotify Connect, easily launch a favourite playlist from a smartphone and listen through the Roku Streambar’s high performance speakers.
  • Bluetooth support: Easily stream music from mobile devices.

Later this year, Roku expects customers will enjoy Apple AirPlay 2 and HomeKit capabilities on select 4K Roku devices. With AirPlay 2, Roku customers can stream, control, and share their favorite content directly from their iPhone, iPad, or Mac to their supported Roku device and bring the experience to the big screen. HomeKit allows customers to easily and securely control their Roku device using the Home app and Siri on iPhone, iPad, Mac, Apple Watch, or HomePod.

Roku: The Ultimate Spot for Canadian Sports Fans

Posted in Commentary with tags on August 24, 2020 by itnerd

After much anticipation, sports are finally starting up again and it’s time to start thinking about planning those game-day streaming sessions! Cold beverages, good food and good company are all crucial to a fun game day viewing, but perhaps the most important aspect is where the game is being viewed! 

Roku is here to give you access to all your favourite sports apps and shows under one roof along with countless other entertainment options to ensure there’s never a dull moment at home. Whether you prefer watching action live on the ice, field, diamond, or court, Roku is the ultimate hub for Canadian sports this upcoming season.

Roku Express – $39.99

Roku Premiere – $49.99 

Roku Streaming Stick+ – $69.99

Roku Joins Global Citizen to Stream “One World: Together At Home” On The Roku Channel

Posted in Commentary with tags on April 16, 2020 by itnerd

Roku, Inc. today announced it is partnering with Global Citizen to bring Roku® users One World: Together at Home, a global special that pays tribute to and celebrates frontline healthcare workers. The event, which airs on Saturday, April 18, at 5 p.m. PT/8 p.m. ET, will be available on The Roku Channel in the U.S., as well as on partner channels on the Roku platform. For Canadian users, BeIN SPORTS XTRA on The Roku Channel and Global TV will broadcast the event, additionally it will be on Crave beginning Sunday, April 19. In the U.K., Roku users can tune in through Insight TV or watch Highlights of One World: Together at Home on BBC iPlayer, including Elton John, Lizzo and Paul McCartney performing from their homes. Those in Brazil can enjoy on their Roku devices through Globoplay. The historic special includes leading global health experts, alongside performances by the world’s top artists and comedians.

In addition, the One World: Together at Home multi-hour digital broadcast will be available for users to stream on the Roku platform ahead of the live event. The broadcast will show unity among people who are affected by COVID-19, as well as celebrate and support the brave frontline health care workers around the world who are doing incredible, life-saving work.

Curated in collaboration with Lady Gaga and hosted by Jimmy Fallon, Jimmy Kimmel, and Stephen Colbert, the global special will feature appearances and musical performances from Andrea Bocelli, Billie Eilish, Billie Joe Armstrong of Green Day, Burna Boy, Chris Martin, David Beckham, Eddie Vedder, Elton John, FINNEAS, Idris and Sabrina Elba, J Balvin, John Legend, Kacey Musgraves, Keith Urban, Kerry Washington, Lady Gaga, Lang Lang, Lizzo, Maluma, Paul McCartney, Priyanka Chopra Jonas and Stevie Wonder. The One World: Together at Home streamed event will include performances and appearances from Adam Lambert, Andra Day, Angèle, Anitta, Annie Lennox, Becky G, Ben Platt, Billy Ray Cyrus, Black Coffee, Bridget Moynahan, Burna Boy, Cassper Nyovest, Charlie Puth, Christine and the Queens, Common, Connie Britton, Danai Gurira, Delta Goodrem, Don Cheadle, Eason Chan, Ellie Goulding, Erin Richards, FINNEAS, Heidi Klum, Hozier, Hussain Al Jasmi, Jack Black, Jacky Cheung, Jack Johnson, Jameela Jamil, James McAvoy, Jason Segel, Jennifer Hudson, Jess Glynne, Jessie J, Jessie Reyez, John Legend, Juanes, Kesha, Lady Antebellum, Lang Lang, Leslie Odom Jr., Lewis Hamilton, Liam Payne, Lili Reinhart, Lilly Singh, Lindsey Vonn, Lisa Mishra, Lola Lennox, Luis Fonsi, Maren Morris, Matt Bomer, Megan Rapinoe, Michael Bublé, Milky Chance, Naomi Osaka, Natti Natasha, Niall Horan, Nomzamo Mbatha, P.K. Subban, Picture This, Rita Ora, Samuel L Jackson, Sarah Jessica Parker, Sebastián Yatra, Sheryl Crow, Sho Madjozi, SOFI TUKKER, SuperM, The Killers, Tim Gunn, Vishal Mishra and Zucchero. 

Roku Is Making TV Streaming At Home A Little Easier During This Difficult Time

Posted in Commentary with tags on April 14, 2020 by itnerd

Because most of us are spending more time at home these days, Roku has introduced “Home Together,” an initiative with a simple goal: to help you stay informed and entertained by making it easy to find the content that matters most to you right now. 

Roku is doing this by highlighting special offers from a variety of their channel partners, such as Crave, Stingray Qello, Shudder, Insight TV, the Digital Concert Hall and Marquee TV. These channels, and others, have made more of their entertainment available to watch for free or extended their trial periods from 7 to 30 days so you can enjoy more premium entertainment for free while you spend time at home. You can read all about these offers here.

Roku has also prepared a variety of tips to help you quickly find the news and entertainment you want to watch:

Please keep an eye out for more Home Together tips, recommendations, and special offers. Roku hopes they’ll help you find the content that matters most to you as we all spend time at Home Together.

Crave Is Now Available On Roku Streaming Devices

Posted in Commentary with tags on April 8, 2020 by itnerd

Bell Media announced today that Crave is now available on all Roku® streaming devices in Canada. On the heels of Crave announcing 30 days free for new direct-to-consumer subscribers, it’s expanding the reach of its prestige entertainment offering to consumers with a Roku® streaming device. Roku users now have access to programming from HBO, SHOWTIME, STARZ, Hollywood-hit movies, as well as French-language TV and films from SUPER ÉCRAN, directly from their Roku streaming player or Roku TV™. 

Launching on the Roku streaming platform creates additional reach for Crave, which is also available to Canadians with access to the Internet at Crave.ca, via iOS and Android, and through platforms like Apple TV, Chromecast, Xbox One, Amazon Fire TV, Android TV, and select Samsung Smart TVs.

With this launch, Roku users can now access Canada’s largest collection of premium content including:

  • Current HBO hits including the new season of WESTWORLD, as well as SUCCESSION, THE OUTSIDER, and CURB YOUR ENTHUSIASM;
  • Hollywood movies such as X-MEN: DARK PHOENIX, YESTERDAY, and BOHEMIAN RHAPSODY, plus upcoming blockbuster hits like FAST AND FURIOUS PRESENTS: HOBBS & SHAW and ONCE UPON A TIME…IN HOLLYWOOD 
  • The Family Friendly Collection, with SPIDER-MAN: INTO THE SPIDER-VERSE, THE KARATE KID (both the classic 1984 film, and the 2010 reboot), and MASTERCHEF.
  • The Kids Collection featuring movies and series such as THE ANGRY BIRDS MOVIE 2, DETECTIVE PIKACHU, BARBIE DREAMTOPIA, PEPPA PIG, PAW PATROL, and more;
  • And a vast Sports Collection featuring BALLERS, DARK SIDE OF THE RING, and THE SHOP: UNINTERRUPTED.

Crave recently began announcing weekly programming updates, including several new Crave Collections that assist viewers in curating viewing, such as:

Roku Announces Roku OS 9.3

Posted in Commentary with tags on March 31, 2020 by itnerd

Roku today announced Roku® OS 9.3 will start rolling out to Roku devices in Canada in the coming weeks. The free, automatic software update focuses on helping consumers get to content quickly and improving overall performance.

What’s new in Roku OS 9.3:

  • Increased Performance – A reduction in device boot times, faster launch times for a select number of channels (with more supported channels coming soon) and a more responsive Home Screen. 
  • Roku Voice – Roku Voice™ is enhanced to give users the ability to speak more natural phrases like “Show me …” or “I want to watch …” and also allows users to find movies using a selection of popular movie quotes. Roku Voice now also supports a greater variety of voice commands including media playback controls such as “Fast forward” or “Pause,” device control such as “Turn on closed captions,”.. Roku Voice is available on the remote of the Roku Streaming Stick™+ and through the Roku Mobile App for all Roku streaming devices.
  • Works with Amazon Alexa and Works with Google Assistant – Control Roku players and Roku TV models by speaking commands to Amazon Alexa and/or Google Assistant devices. Through Amazon Alexa and Google Assistant devices users can now control media playback and search for entertainment. Roku TV™ users additionally can tune into channels or inputs, control volume and switch their TV on/off.
  • Redesigned Roku Mobile App – The free mobile app features a new navigation bar at the top of the mobile screen providing access to Roku Search, the ability to switch between Roku devices and a shortcut to the remote control screen. The redesign includes quick access icons so users can launch useful mobile app features without the need to exit the remote control screen including the ability to browse and/or launch their recently viewed channels directly from the remote screen and more.

Availability

Roku OS 9.3 will begin rolling out to select Roku players in April and is expected to roll out to all supported streaming players in the coming weeks. Roku TV models are expected to receive the update in phases over the coming months.

Review: Roku Express (2019)

Posted in Products with tags on November 13, 2019 by itnerd

The Roku Express has been around for a while now. But for 2019, it has become a bit like the Six Million Dollar Man. Better. Stronger. Faster.

 

Roku Express Box With ProductIt’s undergone a major makeover when it comes to looks. Before it was a thin box that resembled a compact pencil case. Now it looks a lot more attractive with a rounded more rectangular shape to it. It comes with an HDMI cable which is on the short side. And it comes with an adhesive strip so that you can semi-permanently mount it somewhere that allow you to use the included remote which is a line of sight one. One nice touch is that it can be fully powered by most TVs to reduce clutter around the TV via a USB cable.

The Roku Express is a device that outputs to 1080P and uses 802.11 b/g/n WiFi to do so. That makes it perfect for someone who is starting out in the streaming game. And I had no issues setting it up and getting it going. Nor did I have any issues when I was testing it by streaming the rather large library of content that the Roku platform has to offer. Any sort of navigation was fast and fluid as well. So I think it would be safe to say that you’ll have no issues as well.

Gripes? Admittedly these are first world problems. But besides the rather short HDMI cable which could make positioning it a challenge, the remote control is one of Roku’s line of sight remote controls without voice control functionality. If you want that functionality, you need to download their app to your smartphone which isn’t the biggest deal in the world. Another gripe is that no Roku device supports AirPlay 2 functionality which is weird given that Apple TV+ is available on the platform. And that casting from Windows 10 devices and the like is supported. But none of those gripes should deter you from buying the Roku Express.

The Roku Express goes for $39.99 CDN which is a very low barrier to get into the streaming game. Given what is on offer here, the Roku Express is very much worth a look if you want to add streaming functionality to your TV.

 

Disney+ Is Now Streaming On The Roku Platform In Canada

Posted in Commentary with tags on November 12, 2019 by itnerd

Starting today, Disney+ is on the Roku platform in Canada. Subscribe and stream movies and TV series from Disney, Pixar, Marvel, Star Wars, and National Geographic directly on supported Roku devices. New users get a 7-day promotional offer. After that, it’s just $8.99/month (plus tax, where applicable).

Disney+ allows you to stream ad-free and on-demand on up to four devices simultaneously and add up to seven individual profiles. The curated experience also offers personalized recommendations based on your viewing history.

From the magic and mystery of Maleficent to the wonder and excitement of Star Wars, you can go the streaming distance with Disney+. The Disney+ library features something for everyone. Highly-anticipated Disney+ Originals include The MandalorianHigh School Musical: The Musical: The SeriesThe World According to Jeff GoldblumLady and the Tramp and more.

To start streaming, simply add the Disney+ channel from the Channel Store, or find it in the “Movies & TV” category of the Streaming Channels section on your Roku home screen.

Review: Roku Premiere

Posted in Products with tags on November 12, 2019 by itnerd

Roku has a streaming device that is feature packed and affordable which is perfect for upgrading a non “smart” TV with streaming functionality. It’s the Roku Premiere.

Roku Premiere Box With Product

 

Here’s what you get in the box:

  • The Roku Premiere with 4K HDR streaming & 802.11b/g/n single-band WiFi
  • Roku remote
  • A kind of short HDMI cable

Under the hood, you get a quad-core processor and comes in a low-profile form factor that allows you to stick it under a TV to save space (adhesive included). In short, it’s a powerful package that takes up very little space.

Now you are likely asking how powerful is it? Well despite the fact that didn’t have much of an issue streaming 4K video in a bedroom located a room away from my router. There was no buffering or anything of the sort that I noted during my testing. Thus unless you have a large home where a Roku Streaming Stick + may be a better fit due to the fact that it has 802.11ac WiFi built in, the Roku Premiere will work just fine. In terms of picture quality, that’s going to depend on the TV that you have. Mine supports 4K HDR so video looked stunning. Speaking of video, Roku as usual has a massive catalog of streaming services including Apple TV+ and live TV which will keep you streaming for hours.

Gripes? Admittedly these are first world problems. But besides the rather short HDMI cable which could make positioning it a challenge, the remote control is one of Roku’s line of sight remote controls without voice control functionality. If you want that functionality, you need to download their app to your smartphone which isn’t the biggest deal in the world. Another gripe is that no Roku device supports AirPlay 2 functionality which is weird given that Apple TV+ is available on the platform. And that casting from Windows 10 devices and the like is supported. But none of those gripes should deter you from buying the Roku Premiere if you want to get 4K HDR streaming at a great price.

Speaking of that price, the Roku Premiere goes for $49.99 CDN which is a very low barrier to get into the streaming game. Given what is on offer here, the Roku Premiere is very much worth a look if you want to add streaming functionality to your TV.