Roku unveils Smart Soundbar and Wireless Subwoofer
I'm a cord-cutter and long gone are the days of me paying the cable company for television -- including the insane cable box rental fees. Instead, I utilize streaming services using my own hardware. In my home, Apple TV is what is used, but to be honest, I am souring on it. Not only is Apple TV overpriced, but the remote control is terrible. Lately, I have been considering a move to Roku instead -- I like the affordability of the hardware, but also, the remote works properly -- it isn't finicky and fragile like Apple's.
Today, Roku may have convinced me to finally make the switch. You see, the company plans to release what it calls the "Roku Smart Soundbar." It is essentially a traditional soundbar with a Roku media box built in. Believe it or not, it is priced the same as a base-model Apple TV 4K! In addition, Roku will sell an optional wireless subwoofer -- perfect for those that love bass.
"Powered by the Roku OS, the Roku Smart Soundbar is meticulously engineered to deliver room-filling sound and powerful streaming in HD, 4K UHD, and HDR. Four premium drivers offer distinctive clarity, immersive depth and dynamic bass response. Advanced functions enable you to reach for the remote less often. Automatic Volume Leveling offers uniform audio levels across various types of entertainment, including quieting loud commercials. Night Mode lowers the volume for louder scenes and boosts it for quieter ones. Speech Clarity boosts voice frequencies to deliver crisp, clear dialogue," explains Roku.
The company further explains, "The Roku Wireless Subwoofer adds powerful bass and a thunderous response to a Roku Smart Soundbar without needing to run a separate audio cable. Featuring an easy wireless setup, and a sealed cabinet design with a powerful 10-inch driver, the Roku Wireless Subwoofer allows you to expand the premium audio of the Roku Smart Soundbar with powerful bass for a theater-like experience in the comfort of your home. If you have Roku TV Wireless Speakers that are connected to a Roku TV model, your devices will receive a software update in the coming months to add compatibility with the Roku Wireless Subwoofer."
Roku shares the following features of the Smart Soundbar.
- Roku Connect: A wireless protocol that seamlessly connects the Roku ecosystem
- Dolby Audio: Delivers rich, clear, powerful sound
- Bluetooth: Listen to your favorite music, podcasts, and more from popular streaming channels or Bluetooth compatible devices
- HDMI ARC or Optical Support: Connect the Roku Smart Soundbar to your TV with a single cable via HDMI ARC or use HDMI and Optical
- Roku Search: Fast and easy cross-channel search offers results ranked by price
- Roku Voice: Easily launch streaming channels, search for entertainment, replay, turn closed captions on and off and more through the included Roku Voice remote
- Voice Assistant Compatibility: The Roku Smart Soundbar works with Google Assistant and is compatible with Amazon Alexa-enabled devices
- Roku Voice remote: The point-anywhere remote features channel shortcut buttons as well as TV power and volume buttons
Both the Roku Smart Soundbar and Wireless Subwoofer cost $179.99 each. In other words, buying both will run you about $360 -- a fairly costly affair. With that said, the sub is totally optional -- you don't have to buy it. In comparison, the Apple TV 4K starts at $179.99 and is just a media player -- there is no soundbar to found. I rather like the idea of having a Roku integrated into a soundbar too, as it could mean fewer wires and less mess. Consumers that don't already own a soundbar, and are thinking of cutting the cord, should definitely take a look,