Meet the All-New 2016 Roku Streamers (in pics)

Dave Zatz —  September 22, 2016

roku-ultra-remote

As revealed just a few weeks back, Roku’s finally moving on from their repetitive numerical naming conventions with all-new models… possibly corresponding to a significant software refresh (which seems to suffer from early compatibility issues). While not all details have yet been revealed, we know HDR is on the docket and a treasure trove of product photography recently landed in my mailbox to whet our appetites until the official announcement drops.

Roku Express

express

Replacing the existing entry-level Roku 1 in the streaming company’s lineup are the diminutive Roku Express (3700) and Express Plus (3710)… that visually represents half a streamer. As to what’s new and the differentiation between models, I’m not entirely certain. However, it’s reasonable to assume the 2016 Roku 1 would feature a more capable processor and, if the distinction between the Premiere and Premiere Plus models (below) is any indication, perhaps the Roku Express Plus model features additional ports or that desirable headphone+voice control remote. I’m hopeful that at least one model will retain RCA composite outputs to support older televisions.

Roku Premiere

premiere-plus

The Roku Premiere (4620) and Roku Premiere+ (4630) look to slide into the Roku 2 and Roku 3 product slots. However, unlike their 2015 iterations, these 2016 tiers inherit the 2015 Roku 4’s hotplate appearance and may both feature 4K capabilities. Two confirmed differences between the Roku Premiere and Premiere Plus are the inclusion of Ethernet and microSD within the Plus model. I’d also assume the Plus model ships with that better remote, as we see now when comparing the Roku 2 v 3. However, I cannot yet confirm this.

HDR is apparently confirmed the Premiere+ and Ultra (below) models… which is a much-needed improvement over the 2015 Roku 4. Further, I’m hopeful they’ve figured out how to design these in such a way to overcome heat issues and do away with the (loud) fan — similar to the Amazon Fire TV which runs 4K in a tight, fanless enclosure. In any event, Roku appears posed to continue offering 4K for significantly less than the 1080p Apple TV.

Roku Ultra

ultra

The Roku Ultra (4640) replaces the Roku 4 in the lineup. Beyond reproducing the Premiere Plus’ enclosure and features, the Ultra ratchets up its capabilities further with a remote control finder button and optical out… as seen with the prior model. However, this flagship Roku appears to be a lock for HDR in 2016 and may be the only model to feature USB for accessing local media. The Ultra may also be the only model to ship with a motion-control gaming remote capabilities this time around.

As to pricing and timing, given the bevy of leaks and critical holiday shopping season, I’d expect the 2016 Roku lineup will be announced within the next few weeks with comparable price points to prior generations, running perhaps somewhere in the $40-130 range.

21 responses to Meet the All-New 2016 Roku Streamers (in pics)

  1. No OTA tuner for you, it looks like. Will Amazon deliver instead?

    By the by, seems Roku is trolling TiVo with “Premiere” and a model with a plus sign.

  2. The Rokus are still loaded with ads.

    I love my Nvidia Shield- 4k/HDR, lots of apps, Plex and Kodi too. Works great with my HDHomerun tuner.

  3. really hope the premier plus has usb.

  4. I like the look of the flat face on the Roku Express. They should’ve used that design on the front of each of the new boxes to really distinguish them from earlier gen Rokus.

    I wish all of the next-gen streamers would just get released already. Between updated versions of the Rokus, the Nvidia Shield TV, the Amazon Fire TVs plus the new Android TV Mi Box there are going to be a lot of choices. Not sure which one I want yet but I’m ready to upgrade from my old 3rd gen Apple TV…

  5. So the Roku Express is interesting. From the pics, Elias over at AFTVNews believes it really is microUSB powered and wonders if it could be the same guts at the 2016 Roku Stick. Seems reasonable. I wonder if there will be a variant of this model or some other model featuring composite output or if they’re done serving that market.

    http://www.aftvnews.com/next-generation-roku-express-premiere-and-ultra-images-leak/

    Eric, while Roku does have ads I find their presentation less annoying than Fire TV and other platforms. And, while my Apple TV is ad-free, I much prefer my Rokus and Fire TVs.

    From reddit, a good point that the remote doesn’t appear to pick up new IR capabilities and even if HDMI-CEC is present, television volume control remains out of reach.

    https://www.reddit.com/r/cordcutters/comments/54190s/pics_of_the_new_roku_express_premiere_and_ultra/

  6. I wish they would hurry up and release pricing info.

  7. I’ve had Roku for years. I’ve never seen ads.

    WTF are you talking about.

  8. Advertising is Roku’s biggest source of revenue… and the right one third of my screen when perusing apps/channels on newer models is an ad. I also happen to run the Subaru theme, which is kind of a cool ad. Their various approaches are detailed here:

    https://www.roku.com/advertising

  9. The only ads I see are for other streaming stations or apps…

  10. Now, there are ads when streaming the free apps.

  11. The apparent switch to using micro-USB for power on the lower-end units is interesting. You can buy third party power adapters to allow the use of USB power for existing units (haven’t seen one for Roku 4 though). I use them for both my Roku 3 and Roku 2 XS. Just search for “USB powering Roku” on Amazon or eBay (and make sure you read the descriptions carefully so you get the correct one for your device).

    I use the Subaru theme too. I wish they’d make a second one with 4 more excellent nature photos.

    Dave, do you think Roku will open up the private listening feature of their mobile app for use with more models soon?

  12. I think it’s time to stop hoping/expecting new devices to come with legacy outputs. The best option is to spend $30 on a HDMI-to-Composite converter…or spend a little bit more on a new TV with HDMI inputs.

  13. I’ve had all the big streamers, the Roku, the Fire, etc. I’d agree, while the presentation is pretty good (probably better after the update), I really appreciate the setup of the Shield’s Android TV OS. The Fallback Launcher is quite excellent (although after the Marshmallow update they disabled the ability to use custom launchers, which sucks).

    Once they update to Android-N it should be even better because it has built in DVR support.

    Oh, and no ads.:)

    I hope Android TV sticks around for a while- I find it to be the most versatile of all the streaming platforms.

  14. Just as long as one of these still has the non-annoying Netflix interface that DOESN’T break into the end credits telling you to hurry up and watch something else!

  15. [reader requested comment be removed]

  16. Randall Konstantine September 23, 2016 at 9:07 am

    Is the Roku 32 inch smart TV any good. W/hotspot as we don’t have satellite internet

  17. When will the lightbulb go on for these streaming media box makers. Although GoogleTV was a huge dud (mostly thanks to lack of cooperation from content providers), it did have one killer feature which should be implemented immediately in other devices: HDMI passthrough. The ability to watch streaming content along with cable/satellite without switching inputs was a godsend. I know XBox One has it, but I don’t need a gaming machine. Maybe in the next generation Shield?

  18. Thanks for the input R — I assume the microUSB cable also has a power adapter for those that will need it? Are you saying the Express is more or less powerful than the Stick? The “+” remote sounds like HDMI-CEC unless you’re programming the power button in some way.

  19. It’s still not officially released yet but someone has spotted the new Mi Box, an Android TV streamer with voice remote that supports UHD 4K and HDR, selling for $69 at Walmart.

    http://www.androidpolice.com/2016/09/23/a-wild-xiaomi-mi-box-android-tv-appears-at-walmart-costs-69/

    If that price holds up, it will be a very attractive competitor to higher-end Rokus and Fire TVs. Will have to see what the new Roku UI looks like but, as they stand now, I prefer Android TV’s UI over both Roku and Fire TV.

  20. Roku should come out with a built in DVR so any paid programming you watch on the Roku such as SlingTV can be recorded!!!!!!!

  21. @Paul Guyer
    “Just as long as one of these still has the non-annoying Netflix interface that DOESN’T break into the end credits telling you to hurry up and watch something else!”

    I’ve never had it say anything about hurrying up to watch another title. I like this at the end of a title. It allows me to quickly get to the next episode. Or I can continue watching the credits. I would be extremely disappointed if this were eliminated.