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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  • Meteor2 - Sunday, October 02, 2016 - link

    Chromecast+Plex (mine runs on an always-on i3 laptop with an external HDD). There's a good chance a 4K Chromecast will be launched on Tuesday.

    Chromecasts are so convenient; you just use your phone or tablet as the remote control.
    Reply
  • Morawka - Friday, September 30, 2016 - link

    I wonder if the Ultra and Premier+ can host a Plex transcoding server like the Nvidia Shield.. That's a big deal for me, as it would negate the need for a low power nas, and a large USB external HDD is much cheaper than a HDD NAS unit. Reply
  • jtd871 - Friday, September 30, 2016 - link

    Disappointed to see no support for .WMA audio listed. Reply
  • 21stHermit - Friday, September 30, 2016 - link

    Express shows a IR remote, are you sure? Most HDMI ports are in back and won't see an IR remote and need RF remotes. Reply
  • DanaGoyette - Friday, September 30, 2016 - link

    Now, will the device be capable of outputting 24 FPS videos at 24Hz, or will it have an inescapable stuttery 3:2 pulldown? Very few streaming devices can actually play things at 24 Hz.

    The HDMI 2.0 port should allow the thing to drive a non-4K display at native 120Hz, removing any need for pulldown; I hope they'll make use of that.
    Reply
  • tamalero - Saturday, October 01, 2016 - link

    Dammit. I just had bought a Roku 1 2710 model a week ago!
    :/
    Reply
  • Morawka - Saturday, October 01, 2016 - link

    return it asap, you got 14 to 30 days in most retailers and online shops Reply
  • jsntech - Saturday, October 01, 2016 - link

    I made that observation as more of a question rather than a statement, so it is good to know it supports local media playback in some manner (thanks for all the replies!). For myself, however, I prefer not to be forced to use DLNA or a third-party tool like Plex just to play a file. Right now on my WDTV, I simply browse to my SMB share and hit 'play' on a file and it plays. I'm a simple fellow so I suppose I am just missing the benefits of the newer more complicated process for doing that (DLNA, Plex, etc.). Reply
  • Impulses - Saturday, October 01, 2016 - link

    Those processes were all aimed at making things easier, specially for people who could never keep a few directories organized (let alone deal with shares etc)... Whether they've succeeded or not is another story. I think the non techy that wanted easy just turned to streaming, which is what this kinda mass market product reflects. Reply
  • Meteor2 - Sunday, October 02, 2016 - link

    To be fair though, Plex is very picky about directory structure, and directory and file names especially. I agree that just browsing a share and playing the file is easiest. Reply

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