Roku has unveiled a trio of streaming players coming to Canada this fall, which includes a new Roku Express, Premiere and Streaming Stick+. In addition to the new players, Roku will also begin including free live linear channels to its Roku Channel app. There will be up to 14 channels to start, with more to come at a later date. More on that further down.
The new streaming players are small designs, rather than set top boxes, meant to carry on the company’s recent move toward more affordable options.
This is the new entry-level model for Roku, and is now 10 per cent smaller than its predecessor. It is limited to 1080p HD quality, so won’t be able to play 4K content, but does have the benefit of being fully powered by most TVs when plugged in. An adhesive two-sided tape is also in the box to keep it from dangling off the TV.
Functionally, not much has changed, and it still comes with the remote control, HDMI cable and power cord. The remote now includes a shortcut button to the Roku Channel, a great aggregator for free movies and shows from over a dozen channels. Netflix, Google Play and CBS All Access are the others. The remote does use IR (infrared), so you do need to point it at the Express to control it.
Going with the Roku Premiere also means an upgrade to 4K streaming quality with support for HDR (provided your TV can also display it). It’s the one newcomer in this group because the previous Premiere was a set top box, not this small design. It functions much like the Express does, only with a smaller form factor and better components under the hood.
It comes with a remote control, HDMI cable and power cord. The remote has the same shortcut buttons. In fact, Roku will be using them across this new line, so there are no differences or exclusives to note. It is an IR remote, meaning you do need to place it with enough visibility to control it.
As is the case with any Roku device, including previous ones, the Roku mobile app for iOS and Android also works as a remote and private audio device. Plug in a pair of headphones to your phone and the audio transfers over from the TV, helping you watch what you want without disturbing anyone.
Roku Streaming Stick+
The new Streaming Stick+ is almost a carbon copy of the previous version, with only minor changes or upgrades. One is a new mute button on the remote control, along with the aforementioned set of shortcut buttons. Voice-enabled search is back, courtesy of the microphone button on the remote itself, as is the lack of IR, which makes it easy to use it without pointing it at the TV.
It maintains the other bells and whistles that include 4K HDR content and Wireless-AC for faster Wi-Fi connections. If you want the best Roku has to offer in a dedicated device, the Streaming Stick+ appears to be it.
Live linear channels
The Roku Channel is an aggregator that pulls in content from other channels. It’s not a streaming service unto itself, since it just brings in movies and shows already available in other channels. Everything the channel offers is free, with limited ads to keep the flow going.
Now, all that content is going to come with what are called live linear channels, which are supposed to offer something for everyone. This is the full confirmed list thus far.
Law & Crime ‒ Watch the courtroom drama unfold live and get in depth legal analysis on the day’s biggest crime and legal stories.
Now This ‒ Now This is the most watched mobile news brand in the world, providing the latest in video news, investigative reports, interviews and original series.
AllTime ‒ AllTime aims to bring you the most informative, fascinating and engaging top 10 videos.
TMZ ‒ A daily dose of pop culture from the TMZ channel featuring programs.
AFV ‒ America’s Funniest Home Videos (AFV) shines the spotlight on hilarious videos to bring you America’s ‘real-life’ funny moments captured on video.
Fail Army ‒ FailArmy is the world’s number one source for epic fail videos and hilarious compilations.
Pet Collective ‒ The Pet Collective is home to the top trending clips, most entertaining memes, and funniest animal videos.
People Are Awesome ‒ Original videos and compilations of ordinary people doing extraordinary things.
Adventure Sports Network ‒ Adventure Sports Network (ASN) is the worldwide leader in adventure sports, outdoor, lifestyle and travel.
Food52 ‒ Award-winning editors and kitchen experts—like Genius Recipes‘s Kristen Miglore and Dear Test Kitchen‘s Josh Cohen -are here to help with dinner tonight, weekend meal prep, cookie emergencies.
Tastemade ‒ Planning your next adventure abroad or at home? Tastemade shows you how it’s done. Whether expanding your palate or your itinerary, Tastemade presents even more of the things you love. Hundreds of hours of original shows, streaming straight to you.
FilmRise Free Movies ‒ This is a selection of free blockbusters.
FilmRise Crime ‒ Crime stories to satisfy the sleuths among us.
FilmRise Classic TV ‒ Old primetime smash hits include 21 Jump Street and Hunter.
Look for the latest Roku players and the updated Roku Channel to come to market in the coming weeks. All will be available at Best Buy, and you can check out all the current Roku devices here.