What could make a streaming stick better? We’ve seen them get smaller, and faster. What if your streaming stick was also a sound bar? That’s the premise behind the all new 4K Roku Streambar.
What is Roku Streambar?
The first hybrid device of its kind, Roku Streambar combines the 4K streaming capabilities of a streaming stick, box or smart TV, all wrapped up in a sound bar package. That makes the Streambar a great option for older TVs without streaming smarts, but the ultra compact size of the Streambar also means it’s a great solution for smaller spaces.
This two-in-one unit is meant to be an affordable way to add better sound to a TV without taking up a lot of space. It’s actually quite surprising how small and light it is, (measuring just 14 x4 x2) so it’ll be interesting to see how it sounds. You can use either the included Roku remote control or your smartphone as a remote, or both.
Roku Streambar connects to your TV, and using one of the HDMI inputs, will create a streaming entertainment portal where you can navigate to channels like Roku Channel, Netflix, YouTube, Apple TV and lots more. That same connection also links up with your TV and amplifies sound for better audio quality.
Some of you will have hear my schpiel on sound bars already, but for the new folks (hello and welcome!) here goes: Over the years TVs have gotten thinner, meaning there’s physically no space for a quality speaker that can deliver all the audio characteristics we expect like clear dialogue and bass, particularly if you’ve upgraded to a 4K TV. This means the sound off the TV’s internal speakers is sub par. That’s made sound bars more important now than ever.
Setting up Roku Streambar
Getting this stream bar set up was really easy. Connect it to your TV using either the HDMI cable or optical audio cable. I hooked it up to my new Hisense Roku TV. If you’re using it on a Roku TV the set up is easy, but this sound bar is smart enough to work with almost any brand of TV. Once you get it connected, navigate to the HDMI input you’ve connected it to and follow the on-TV prompts. The Streambar will walk you through everything you need to do. Mine was ready to go in seconds.
One note here: since I was connecting it to a smart Roku TV already, in this case, the streaming capabilities would be redundant, but I do need a sound bar on my TV so that’s what I’ll focus the bulk of this review on. If you own an Android TV or another smart TV but you dislike the interface or your channel options, you could easily use your Streambar’s Roku TV capabilities to take over the smarts of your TV.
In the box you get:
- Roku Streambar
- Voice remote with TV controls
- Premium High Speed HDMI® Cable
- Optical digital audio cable
- Two AAA batteries
- Power cable and adapter
Audio quality of Roku Streambar
You might be wondering how a sound bar this size sounds. I was too, so let’s get to it. From the moment I turned this on, I was surprised at how big it sounds. It fills my living room space surprisingly well. For me it gets plenty loud enough. Four 1.9” full range speakers fill the room with Dolby Audio compatible sound. The centre channel is designed to kick out crisp, clean audio that makes dialogue easier to hear while its angled side speakers are designed to spread sound out across the room. The dialogue sounds great, there’s plenty of detail and it sounds super overall.
I need to talk about the bass. I was all set to say this sound bar was lacking bass. But I put on a couple of bass tests and some bass heavy content and I was absolutely blown away by the depth, resonance and the overall kaboom in this box.
The Roku Streambar sounds amazing for its size and it does exactly what it says it will; it amplifies the sound and improved the audio from my TV, while also providing a bunch of different additional features, which I’ll get to. I also really liked its small size.
How to get smart TV streaming using your sound bar
Roku Streambar’s built in streaming system gives you access to hundreds if not thousands of channels and programs. I really like the Roku system and user interface; it’s easy to understand and navigate and it’s well organized and simple. With Roku streaming power you can also Search using your Roku remote, your Roku smartphone app or you can also ask Alexa or Google to search using your voice.
Cast & share to your TV
Roku’s smart streaming inside the Streambar lets you cast, share or send video, music, photos, and more to your TV. Later this year, Roku is also adding Apple AirPlay 2 and HomeKit capabilities on select 4K Roku devices. With AirPlay 2, Roku customers can stream, control, and share their favourite 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.
Other features of Roku Streambar
This setting lets you quiet ultra loud scenes if you’re watching TV while other are sleeping. It just brings the audio or those crashes or explosions down to a less disruptive level.
Quiet loud commercials
The Roku Streambar can also quiet loud commercials automatically using the Automatic Volume Leveling setting.
Voice control with Google & Alexa
You can control the Roku Streambar by speaking to Amazon Alexa and/or Google Assistant devices.
To get this set up you just need to link your preferred digital assistant in the Google Home or Amazon Alexa app to the Roku Streambar. Then you can control your TV power, sound, and streaming.
Remote control options
As I noted you can use the included Roku remote or your smartphone as a remote. The physical remote is super handy for fast adjustments, and the built in voice search button is convenient. Using the Roku Remote app gives you a few additional features: one of the best is Private Listening.
Private listening on the Roku mobile app
Only on compatible Apple and Android devices, the Roku mobile app lets you use headphones connected to your phone or tablet, to listen to streaming TV programs. This feature means you can listen to the TV without disturbing others in the room, or avoid waking the kids if you’re watching late night movies. Or the kids can not bother YOU.
I have a full video on how to do this here and I’ll make sure it’s linled up. This feature works really well and provides a reliable way to listen to the TV with headphones, which also makes it good for seniors or those with hearing troubles.
Overall review of Roku Streambar
Overall the new Roku Streambar is a pretty versatile device.It’s got a lot of power and great sound quality for such a small sound bar, and that bass was shockingly great. This Streambar is a great addition to my living room TV set up. The fact that it’s a two in one device makes it very versatile.
Downsides? It doesn’t have a convenient wall mount: the Roku Streambar uses M6 mounting sockets so you need to go buy a separate mounting kit if you do want to put it up on the wall.