After weeks of leaks, the Roku 4 finally breaks cover. As expected, new 4K and 801.11ac capabilities receive top billing, Also, not too shabby is the additional of optical output, unlike the majority of its streaming competition. And the mystery of that top port or sensor is finally solved. It’s neither. But, rather, a remote finder button used in conjunction with a small speaker grill on the back of an updated remote. To contain the upgraded tech, including a new quad core processor, the iconic Roku puck is no more — replaced with something that resembles a hotplate.
On the app side, Roku boasts more 4K content than others — beyond the requisite Amazon and Netflix, the HDCP 2.2 platform will also bring Vudu and M-Go at launch. But these app updates could end up replicating what one finds natively on their 4K televisions. And why it pains me that Roku didn’t sneak an OTA tuner or HDMI pass-thru into the larger chassis this time around. They’ve got a pleasant and efficient user interface (that already includes television support) and could keep non-DVR folks pinned to Input 1. Perhaps they disagree on the value of unifying that OTA linear and over-the-top content, like a TiVo or Xbox. Or maybe they’ve got some sort of non-compete in place with their television partners. Another missed opportunity is cleaning up that remote. Roku’s top tier streamer breaks the $100 threshold for the first time, clocking in at $130 – $30 more than the 4k Fire TV. I’d think this flagship model could easily do away with the spam buttons. And one reason why I may never upgrade from my 2014 Roku 3.