September 28, 2022

Roku announces cheaper subwoofer, updates $30 express streaming device

Roku today announced some new budget-conscious hardware, including the $130 Roku Wireless Bass subwoofer and an updated Roku Express streaming device. The company also detailed Roku OS 11.5, which includes features that should mean less time spent helplessly clicking for something to watch.

Roku’s $130 Wireless Bass

The Roku Wireless Bass Subwoofer is designed to amplify the bass heard with the Roku Streambar, Wireless Speakers, or Wireless TV Soundbar. Roku’s upcoming 5.25-inch subwoofer is a cheaper version of the previously released 10-inch Roku Wireless Bass Pro.

Roku Wireless Bass.
Enlarge / Roku Wireless Bass.

The cheaper subwoofer sports a 50-200Hz frequency response, while the more expensive Wireless Bass Pro offers more in the low end with a 40-200Hz range. Roku describes the new subwoofer as having a front-vented design compared to the down-firing design and sealed cabinet of the Wireless Bass Pro.

Rear side of the wireless bass.

Rear side of the wireless bass.

Ultimately, the wireless bass is supposed to be a bit quieter at 90dB versus 102dB for the Pro model.

For those with limited space, the good news is that the Wireless Bass will take up less space (13.7 inches tall × 6.7 inches wide × 12.4 inches deep) than the more powerful option ( 11.8 × 11.8 × 11.8 inches), with most of the space savings coming from varying speaker widths.

Like Roku’s other subwoofer, the Wireless Bass needs to live within 30 feet (9.1m) of the TV to work.

Starting November 7, Roku will sell the Wireless Bass on its own for $130, which is $50 less than the MSRP of the Wireless Bass Pro. Roku will also bundle it with its Streambar (which has an MSRP of $130 on its own) for $250.

Updated Roku Express

The San Jose, Calif.-based company also today announced the 2022 version of its lowest-end Roku Express streaming device. The device now supports dual-band (2.4 and 5GHz) Wi-Fi, a feature that Roku’s more expensive streaming devices including the Roku Express 4K+ ($40) and Roku Ultra ($100) ), already include.

Roku's Express comes with Roku's most basic remote.
Enlarge / Roku’s Express comes with Roku’s most basic remote.

Roku’s announcement claimed the device had “increased” storage but did not disclose details. As usual, it will support resolution up to 1920×1080 with upscaling available from 1280×720.

The 2022 Roku Express remains at $30 with pre-sales starting today.

Roku 11.5 OS

On the software side, Roku OS 11.5 and its new features will start coming to Roku devices “in the coming months,” Roku said in today’s announcement.

A long-missed upcoming feature is “Continue Watching,” which will make it easier to continue a show or movie right where you left off. The option will live in the home screen menu, under “What to watch”. However, the feature will not immediately work with all platforms. It should work with HBO Max, Netflix, Paramount+, and The Roku Channel, for starters.

For all those times when you can’t think of that movie or show you wanted to watch, OS 11.5 will bring the “Save List” feature beyond the Roku Channel and the Roku mobile app. User save lists will be available in the What to Watch section.

Other upcoming OS features seemed more aimed at getting viewers hooked on more content, be it long-form, short-form, free or paid.

Users should be prepared to see a “collection of posts featuring short entertainment-focused content” in the home screen menu. Roku calls it The Buzz and said it will include content like trailers, interviews and footage from a growing list of brands including AMC+, Apple TV+, BET+, IGN, Showtime, Starz, The CW , Vevo, etc

Also joining the home screen menu is the Roku store. It will try to get people to add more channels including free and paid channels.

Other notable updates with OS 11.5 include the addition of Bluetooth private listening to the Roku Ultra, Streambar and Streambar Pro and a live TV channel guide for Roku’s mobile app remote.

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