Roku is today announcing the Premiere and Premiere+, two new devices that offer 4K HDR video streaming for prices starting at $39.99. The latter will be exclusively sold at Walmart and include a remote control with voice search capabilities that’s more convenient than the IR remote bundled with the regular Premiere. But aside from that (and a higher $49.99 price), the Premiere and Premiere+ are identical. Both support 802.11n Wi-Fi and have a quad-core processor inside for responsive performance. With regards to HDR, you’re getting HDR10, but not Dolby Vision.
At $40 for the standard Premiere, Roku is getting extremely aggressive on price. Amazon’s 4K-capable Fire TV costs around $70, as does Google’s Chromecast Ultra. And even at $40, you’re still getting an HDMI cable in the box. The Premiere has a low profile that’s notquiteas slim as a streaming stick, but not far off. It looks a lot like the prior Express device.
The Premiere and Premiere+ go up for preorder today and will be available starting in early October. Separately, Roku is also “updating” its top-tier Roku Ultra by adding JBL earbuds to the box; the hardware is otherwise identical and will sell for the same $99.99 price. That’s also coming next month.
For many apps on its platform, Roku receives a monthly slice of each subscription that originates from a Roku device. The company has also been putting a big emphasis on The Roku Channel, an in-house, ad-sponsored app that offers a mix of catalog TV shows, movies, and live news that can be viewed for free. And Roku has recently given more prominence to free, ad-supported content from its streaming partners with a “Featured Free” section of the home screen that brings together shows and movies that don’t require a login or subscription to stream.
The shortcut buttons on Roku remotes? Paid placement. And now the company is even adding branded sounds to its “lost remote finder” feature. (There’s a button on top of the Roku Ultra that you can press to have the remote emit a sound.) Starting in November, you’ll be able to replace the default sound with ESPN’sSportsCenteralert sound or theGame of Thronestheme song. An advertising company, indeed.
But $40 sure is a cheap gateway to an endless array of streaming apps and 4K.