Roku Inc. today announced its 2019 Canadian lineup of streaming video players.
The refreshed line includes three models. All offer the familiar Roku software environment and selection of streaming channels. But each model has slightly different hardware features, that should appeal to users with different priorities.
Smarter than Smart
The Roku Express (MSRP $39.99 CAD) is smaller and sleeker than previous Roku boxes. It also uses less power, and should be able to run entirely off the USB port in most recent TVs. Video output is standard Full HD. As with each of the players, everything is included: the player itself, remote (with batteries), HDMI High-Speed cable and power cord.
The Roku Premiere (MSRP $49.99 CAD) is just slightly larger and boxier. It incorporates a quad-core processor, delivering output up to 4K with support for HDR.
The Roku Streaming Stick+ (MSRP $89.99) eliminates the ‘box' entirely. It's designed to dangle invisibly from the TV's HDMI port. Like the Premiere, it does 4K HDR. Unlike the other two models, it uses a Wi-Fi remote, and includes an in-line module that acts as a Wi-Fi antenna. The remote allows voice input.
As ever, Roku players are designed to be smarter than the average ‘smart' TV. The user interface has undergone continual refinement since the original launch in 2008, and older players and TVs continue to be supported by regular automatic updates.
Any of the players can be used with the free Roku mobile apps for iOS and Android, which provides private audio listening, voice search and other features.
The new Roku streaming players will be available in Canada starting early October, at Best Buy, Walmart, Amazon, Staples, The Source, London Drugs and other retailers.
All Roku players (and Roku-equipped TVs) provide easy access to thousands of free and paid streaming services, including all the majors: Netflix, Amazon Prime Video and many more.
Of particular interest to Canadians is the addition this year of Global TV. Roku expects to have the newest streaming channels added this fall: Apple TV+, Disney+, CBS All Access HBO Max, etc. Roku expects these competing services will be hungry for all the "active eyeballs" they can get, and with Roku, they need to build just one app to reach over 30 million households.
All Roku devices also offer the Roku Channel. Launched in Canada last year, this offers a curated selection of free (ad-supported) channels. New in Canada this year is the addition of 14 live linear channels. Roku notes that ads are capped at 8 minutes per hour, less than the 12 minutes permitted on linear TV, and with less repetition.
Also new in Canada this year is TCL's 75-inch 6-Series TV, now the largest Roku TV in the Canadian market.
Five TV brands in Canada now offer the Roku software built in: Sharp, Sanyo, RCA, Hisense and TCL. In the US, Roku TV brands have reached a total of 11, with Roku reporting that one in three TVs sold now include the Roku OS.