Roku just announced a new Streambar, and its other new piece of hardware for 2020 is an updated Roku Ultra player, which will cost $100. Improvements to the company’s top-of-the-line streaming device include a better Wi-Fi range and compatibility with Dolby Vision video — which is available from services like Netflix, Amazon Prime Video and Disney Plus — just in time for The Mandalorian Season 2.
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While many Roku players, including the $50 Roku Streaming Stick Plus, offer 4K resolution, Dolby Atmos audio and standard high dynamic range video, the 2020 Roku Ultra is the first to include Dolby Vision HDR. In CNET’s tests Dolby Vision can look a bit better than standard HDR in some cases, but the difference is largely dependent on the TV and the video source. Even so, many owners of Dolby Vision-compatible TVs are likely to want a streamer that can deliver the format. Competing 4K devices with Dolby Vision include the $50 Amazon Fire TV Stick 4K, the $150 Nvidia Shield TV and the $180 Apple TV 4K.
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The Ultra retains the same shape as its predecessors but the internals have been reconfigured to allow a larger antenna, resulting in 50% greater wireless range according to Roku. It also comes with a quad-core processor that supposedly improves on the 2019 Ultra’s already-speedy operation.
Like other Roku devices it will be upgraded to work with Apple’s AirPlay and Homekit system soon, and ships with Bluetooth (new for 2020) so you can stream music and podcasts from your phone to your TV. The Ultra remains the only Roku streamer with a wired Ethernet port — which can be particularly important if your Wi-Fi network is taxed by other devices.
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The 2020 version has Roku’s best remote, complete with customizable shortcut buttons and a 3.5mm jack that allows you plug in headphones for private listening. The remote can accept voice commands using Roku’s voice system and has volume, mute and power buttons for controlling a TV. The box also includes a remote finder button (now on the side instead of on top) so you can locate the clicker amid the couch cushions. In addition to headphones the box now includes an HDMI cable as well.
The 2020 Roku Ultra goes on preorder today at Roku.com. It’s expected to be available at Roku.com and major retailers in October.
Aside from the Ultra and Streambar, Roku’s lineup remains the same as it was in 2019, and all players from the $30 Express and up will continue to be sold throughout the year and into 2021. Here’s the rundown.