This product will take advantage of the Roku OS to deliver a superb entertainment experience. It will offer premium sound, while taking advantage of Roku Connect to connect to other AV devices, and new voice controls accessible through the Roku Entertainment Assistant. Although the TCL Roku Smart Soundbar will be compatible with any TV, it will be even better when combined with TCL Roku TVs by extending hands free voice and audio capabilities to the TV for more control and entertainment functionality.
What makes this soundbar “smart” appears to be a beefed up, always-listening audio interface that’s summoned like Apple Siri or Google Assistant with a “Hey Roku” (whereas Alexa doesn’t require a “hey” modifier and the wake word can be somewhat customized). Cord Cutters News also indicates that Roku’s smart speaker licensees will also incorporate multi-speaker, multi-room audio (think Sonos) – presumably backed by the team and tech acquired last fall. As to Roku audio timing and this TCL soundbar in particular, well it’s going to be awhile… and it seems the parties are hoping to have initial products ready for the 2018 holiday sales season.