New Roku Remote Will Control Your Television

Dave Zatz —  September 20, 2017 — 19 Comments

As Roku typically does, they’ll introduce a variety of hardware updates later this fall. And, as ZNF typically does, we’ll break that news to you first.

A trusted source indicates several 2017 models will be bundled with a revised Roku remote that expands television control — including a new handy dandy power button and brining the volume rocker to more models, independent of remote listening. However, instead of going with IR like Sideclick, I wonder if this represents an expansion of the HDMI-CEC capabilities Roku introduced last year. Update: It’s IR. Can I get an amen?!

Beyond that bit of practical news, I can now confirm that a 4K HDR Roku Streaming Stick+ will join the lineup mid-range, with the universal remote, while maintaining an elongated stick presentation — versus taking on a more chunky dongle form like Google has and Amazon will, with an incoming Fire TV. On the lower-end, the 2017 Roku Express will see a significant performance bump … and may finally make my list of recommended streamers. At about 1/4th the cost of Apple TV, why not?

As to other Roku rumblings, looks like the company has taken a renewed interested in audio as they march towards an IPO.

19 responses to New Roku Remote Will Control Your Television

  1. I wonder if it will be worth replacing my Roku Ultra? I’ve had the Ultra since it was launched at it has performed very well. In my setup I’ve only run into minor issues. Plus Roku gave me a $50 credit to use toward the Ultra since I had owned the Roku 4 turd. And I had traded in my Roku 4 to Gamestop for $50. So my Ultra only cost me $30 out of pocket.

    I use HDMI-CEC with my current Ultra remote but only to control volume. I don’t have my UHD TV power set to work with HDMI-CEC and I don’t think I will be changing that.

    I guess if the new Rokus introduce 24P output then I might consider getting a new version. But currently I am very pleased with the voice search of my Roku Ultra remote. And the performance of my Roku Ultra.

  2. “As I mentioned on Twitter, I hope I’m wrong about HDMI-CEC. IR would be much more practical.”

    I’ve long been baffled that none of the Big Three streaming boxes offer an optional remote with learning IR. Sell the thing for $49, or even more. It would have low sales, but my guess is that it’d enhance their brand pretty dramatically. (I’d buy one, of course, but the good press coverage it’d get would seep through to folks who wouldn’t buy one.)

    More broadly, I’m also always baffled that the streaming box companies seem to care so little about the UX of their remotes. I mean, it’s kinda a large part of how people experience these things. One of the reasons I love my TiVo is because the remote is so damn nice. And one of the things I prefer the Roku over the Fire TV is that its remote is somewhat more pleasant to use, merely because of the raised physical button design. This kind of non-obvious UX thing won’t move units in the store or on the web to new users, but if you want to build an ongoing business in a market that’s still shaking out, it pretty much makes sense to give your users a better experience…

  3. All remotes should have volume control, or at least a mute button. That’s my biggest pet peeve with streaming box remotes.

  4. Just interested in price range. May have missed it.

  5. What device would you recommend? I am trying to figure out if the Koti is alright. I own the first roku system but I just wanted to get rid of Comcast cable and just go with the Internet only.

  6. No wired ethernet on the Roku Express, all streaming boxes should have wired ethernet otherwise they may as well be a dongle or a stick.

  7. Good news folks, I’m hearing it’s IR not HDMI-CEC — meaning far greater compatibility.

    Beverly, I’m told the new remote will be bundled with several models in the Roku product line. I imagine they may also offer it as an accessory, but the pricing may not make sense to buy it independently.

  8. Steffanie A Williams September 21, 2017 at 11:48 am

    I have a Rocu 4 if i change to the Express will it have all of the channels,or will i have to add them ? I already have over 100 channels

  9. So the current Ultra can control volume? What about my Premiere Plus?

  10. Thanks for this Dave. As my library of HEVC content grows and now with iOS 11 will need to upgrade my Roku 3s. Looking forward to these being announced.

  11. What all Roku remotes need is a restart button, because all Roku’s have been prone to hanging and eventually restarting itself whenever there is an issue. In earlier days you had to get up and pull the power cord to trigger that restart. The current state is at least progress.The button would eliminate waiting for the restart.

  12. Jenna A. Saunders September 26, 2017 at 9:53 pm

    Steffanie A Williams, why on earth would you want to change from a Roku 4 to such a vastly inferior product? while yes it is a much larger device if you are going to replace it the closest device to it would either be the Premier+ or the Ultra. the express is slow, sluggish and limited in it’s memory. your Roku 4 is much smoother than the express by a huge margin

  13. I’d be happy with them taking the dang netflix/etc buttons off, which I constantly hit when pressing pause.

    There are already tons of cheap “sidecar” remotes that add tv controls to the roku remotes we have right now, allowing us to keep our current devices and add tv control. They’re often on sale. You can also use a harmony remote (used ones are cheap) or a roku style universal remote.

  14. I have Harmony and Sideclick… but integrated power and volume, for essentially no extra money to new purchases, is a great, preferable solution for many. The “spam buttons” aren’t going away – it’s a revenue source for Roku, now a publicly traded company, and Netflix is requiring the button of most partners. Apple being Apple operates differently.

  15. @Charlie

    I’ve had my Roku Ultra since launch last year. I’ve never had my Ultra hang and need a reboot. It’s been pretty solid in my use.

    Now the Roku 4 I had in 2015/2016 was a different story. That was a turd of a box. My Roku Ultra is miles better than my Roku 4 was.

  16. When might we see Roku Ultra with Dolby Vision..? If they are going to focus on audio, Atmos support would be appreciated. Now this one would be Ultra..!!

  17. Hi Dave Zatz,

    I was at my local Walmart earlier tonight and spotted the new Roku Streaming Stick+ for $69. Included was the new remote with power and volume controls for TV. Looked at the rest of the Roku product line and all have new packaging with new remote.

  18. I cannot image a remote without volume control button or a mute button. Also a would prefer not to have netflix buttons but i understand that for many people its essential. The price is good so i think that i may buy it in the near future.

  19. Often, when I’m controlling my volume with the roku remote, my whole system powers down. Everything hung goes off, and nothing works again until I unplug all power sources and wait a few minutes. And that doesn’t work half of the time on the first try. I usually have to power everything up and down a few times before the roku remote gets the message and starts working again. How? I haven’t figured that out yet… seems when it fixes itself, it does so on accident. Anybody else having similar issues??

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