October 28, 2020
Roku Streambar builds in 4K HDR streaming, 'wide' sound for $130

Roku Streambar builds in 4K HDR streaming, ‘wide’ sound for $130


roku-streambar-above-angle

At 14 inches wide the Roku Streambar is much more compact that a typical soundbar. 


Roku

Just when we thought hybrid soundbar-streamers couldn’t get any cheaper than the $180 Roku Smart Soundbar, the company says, “hold my beer.” The new Roku Streambar lowers the price of entry to $130/£129 and still manages to pack in some sophisticated features for the money.

As its name suggests, the Streambar is a soundbar with a full-cream 4K HDR streamer built-in. Roku says its streaming capabilities are equivalent to the $50 Roku Streaming Stick Plus. It’s also a 2.0-channel soundbar with side-firing “wide” speakers. The system will process 5.1 audio, which enables you to add Roku’s wireless subwoofer or surround speakers (or both) for a full-fledged wireless surround system (total cost: $450).

The biggest difference between the Streambar and the Smart Soundbar is the bars’ size and shape. While the Smart Soundbar is 32 inches wide, the Streambar is much more compact at 14 inches. Both bars include Roku’s voice remote, which lets you issue commands by speaking into the clicker, control volume and turn the TV on and off.

The Streambar offerssimple volume modes” which “lower loud commercials, boost the volume of voices and optimize the sound for night listening” according to the company’s press materials. In addition to Apple AirPlay 2 support, which is coming soon, the Streambar is equipped with Bluetooth and Spotify Connect.

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Roku

Physical connectivity on the Streambar is standard for inexpensive soundbars: an optical digital input and HDMI with audio return channel capability. It’s designed to connect to a TV and if you have other devices, such as a game console, you’ll need to use your TV as a switcher.

The only real competition is “dumb” soundbars, such as the Vizio M-Series All-in-One 2.1 Soundbar or the Yamaha SR-B20A, in the Streambar’s price range. For that reason alone the combination of sound and streaming makes the Streambar an attractive proposition, and for many people it’s a better value than the original $180 Smart Soundbar. The Streambar will probably suit smaller TVs better but I believe that’s where hybrid systems are most at home anyway: They’re a way to “undumb” older, less expensive TVs, especially in secondary rooms.

The Roku Streambar, and the new Roku Ultra, will be available for preorder at Roku.com starting today and are expected to ship in October.

Roku’s 2020 audio lineup

Price Size (inches WxH) 4K HDR streaming built-in Voice remote with TV control Requires another Roku device
Streambar (new for 2020) $130 14×2.4 Yes Yes No
Smart Soundbar $180 32.2×2.8 Yes Yes No
Wireless speakers $150 (pair) 7.7×4.9 (each) No Yes Roku TV or soundbar
Wireless subwoofer $180 11.8×11.8 No No Roku TV or soundbar



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