Roku this week introduced a new family of five streaming media players for various needs and customers. The new affordable players support 1080p HD video streaming and some of them are even compatible with older TVs with composite inputs. The more advanced players support streaming of 4Kp60 content (3840x2160 resolution at 60 fps) and the high-end models even supports HDR10 metadata, which will be useful for those who would like to watch 4Kp60 HDR video and have appropriate TVs.

The fifth generation Roku streaming media players run the proprietary Roku OS and support dozens of video streaming services, including those from Amazon, BBC, Google, HBO, Hulu, Netflix, Vudu and so on. The set-top-boxes are self-contained devices that are connected using an HDMI input to TVs and can be operated using bundled remote controls. Depending on video output capabilities and feature set, pricing of the new players ranges from $30 to $130.

The 2016 Roku Streaming Player Lineup
  Express Express+ Streaming
Stick
Premiere Premiere+ Ultra
SoC Unknown Broadcom BCM2836 (quad-core, 900 MHz) Unknown SoC with four cores and UHD video capabilities.
Storage 256 MB NOR flash Unknown Flash
microSD
USB
Flash
microSD
USB
Wi-Fi 802.11n Dual-band 802.11ac with MIMO
Ethernet None 100 Mbps
Video Output Connector HDMI 1.4 HDMI 1.4
A/V Out
HDMI 1.4 HDMI 2.0 HDMI 2.0a
Video Output Resolution 720p
1080p
480p
720p
1080p
720p
1080p
1080p
4Kp60
Video Up-Conversion 720p to 1080p on HDTVs Unknown 720p to 1080p on HDTVs

720p/1080p to 4Kp60 on UHDTVs
HDR None HDR10
Audio Output HDMI HDMI
A/V Out
HDMI HDMI
Optical
Audio Features Dolby Audio pass through via HDMI DA pass through via HDMI/optical
Remote IR Wi-Fi Direct IR Wi-Fi Direct with headphone jack.

Player includes IR receiver.
Wi-Fi Direct with headphone jack, voice search.

Player includes IR receiver.
USB Media Formats None HEVC/H.265
VP9
H.264

AAC
MP3

JPG
PNG
HEVC/H.265
VP9
H.264

AAC
MP3
ALAC
FLAC
PCM
AC3
EAC3

JPG
PNG
GIF

Power Consumption < 2.4 W 3 W < 4.5 W
Price $30 $40 $50 $80 $100 $130

The most affordable STBs from the new lineup are the Roku Express and Roku Express+ players, which connect to 802.11n Wi-Fi, support up to 1080p video and retail for $30 and $40, respectively. The Roku Express+ version is especially notable here as it's the only new player from the company in the last two years to support RCA composite video for older, pre-HDMI televisions. Meanwhile the Roku Premier series complements the company’s Streaming Stick product released earlier this year, which has similar capabilities, but is more portable and expensive ($50).

The considerably more advanced Roku Premiere, Roku Premiere+ and Roku Ultra are based on more powerful SoCs with four CPU cores to enable 4Kp60 video decoding as well as additional functionality. Furthermore, the premium players also feature Wi-Fi 802.11ac MIMO dual-band connectivity. Among the higher-end players, the Roku Premiere+ and the Roku Ultra also support displaying HDR video via the HDR10 standard (but note that Dolby Vision is not supported). In addition, both players are also equipped with microSD card readers for additional channel storage and USB ports for local playback. The baseline 4Kp60 Premiere STB goes for $80, while the HDR-capable Premier+ player costs $100. Meanwhile, the top-of-the-range Roku Ultra is available for $130. For additional $30, owners will get a more advanced remote with a speaker (for the lost remote finder feature), a digital optical audio port as well as improved support for lossless audio formats like ALAC or FLAC (but no Dolby Atmos).

The new Roku Express, Roku Premiere, Roku Premiere+ and Roku Ultra STBs will be available in stores on October 9 and can be pre-ordered immediately. The Roku Express+ will be sold exclusively at Walmart.

Source: Roku

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  • JoeyJoJo123 - Friday, September 30, 2016 - link

    HDCP only comes into effect when you're playing back HDCP protected content. For example, if your Blu-Ray player is playing back a HDCP protected movie, then both the player and the TV have to be HDCP compliant. Reply
  • doubledeej - Friday, September 30, 2016 - link

    They should play SD and HD content just fine; the restriction will be on Ultra HD only. Likely the device won't even try to send UHD (4K) to a non-compliant TV.

    The Monoprice Blackbird HDCP 2.2 to 1.4 converter *might* work to convert the copy protection to something your TV can handle so you can view UHD. It has worked for me on a few devices similar to the Rokus.
    Reply
  • ToTTenTranz - Friday, September 30, 2016 - link

    "The considerably more advanced Roku Premiere, Roku Premiere+ and Roku Ultra are based on more powerful SoCs with four CPU cores to enable 4Kp60 video decoding as well as additional functionality. "

    If I had to guess, it's probably Amlogic S905. It's quite cheap and ticks all the marks.
    Reply
  • jsntech - Friday, September 30, 2016 - link

    Doesn't appear to support playback from a home NAS media library, eh? Can't quite understand how that functionality (which was beautifully implememented in the good ole WDTV) has been so neglected by new media players. Seems the SHIELD TV is my only way forward (after my poor little WDTV finally dies). Reply
  • Dahak - Friday, September 30, 2016 - link

    Same, not sure what they wont allow local network media playback
    and why no lan connection on all but the two most expensive devices, especially if you want higher end media playback would it not make more sense to be wired vs wireless where wireless could have issues
    Reply
  • Demi9OD - Friday, September 30, 2016 - link

    Right? My Popcorn Hour A110 could do 1080p through LAN from an SMB share back in 2008 or 2009. Now I am running a Plex server on my PC and Kodi on my Amazon Fire Stick to accomplish local playback without transcoding. Such a bear to get this working compared to what it used to be. Reply
  • jaystone - Saturday, October 01, 2016 - link

    But Roku DOES support local network media playback... and has for a long time. There's built in Roku Media Player that plays from NAS, local computers, or any device that support DLNA. There's also a Plex App. I run a NAS in my home from my local home network.

    Have a Roku in bedroom and living room. I can playback a video from my NAS in my living room, pause the video, go to my bedroom and resume from the same spot as I left it in my living room.... or vice versa.
    Reply
  • LordConrad - Friday, September 30, 2016 - link

    I use the "Roku Media Player" channel to play back movies from my NAS. Plex also offers a channel that allows local playing of content. Reply
  • bigboxes - Friday, September 30, 2016 - link

    Agreed. I built a dedicated HTPC for the living room that can handle anything I throw at it. I use Kodi as the interface and yes, I can playback files from my home server. It would be nice to have appliances that could do the same so I could get them for my other televisions. The progress is so slow. Reply
  • jaystone - Saturday, October 01, 2016 - link

    Roku has always supported local LAN device playback. Where did you read it didn't? By default, there's a Roku Media Player that detects all devices on your local network with DLNA from computers to local NAS devices. Also, if you have a Synology NAS, it has an app specifically for that regarding the Video Station.... not to mention it has a PLEX app. Reply

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