Roku (ROKU) is moving beyond televisions and streaming devices with its first wireless speaker bundle. Available for preorder at $149 beginning today through July 23, $179 starting July 24 through Oct. 15, and $199 thereafter, the Roku TV Wireless Speakers — quite the literal name — are designed to provide improved audio quality for today’s super-slim TVs.
Even if you miss the $149 preorder price, $199 is a solid deal for a pair of speakers. But it’s important to note that the Roku TV Wireless Speakers will only work with, you guessed it, Roku TVs. So, any TV powered by the Roku operating system will benefit from the enhanced audio provided by the bundle. If you’ve got a Roku streaming device, or simply a non-Roku TV, well, you’re out of luck.
According to Roku, 1-in-4 smart TVs sold in the U.S. are powered by Roku, but that still means that 75% of smart TV buyers won’t be able to use the speakers. And if you’ve got a standard TV, you’re in the same boat.
Roku said the speakers can only work with Roku-powered TVs, because its Roku Connect technology cuts down on latency, meaning you won’t see a difference between the action on your television and the sound you hear.
I got to listen to an early version setup of the speakers, and they certainly provided an impressive boost in sound quality versus a standard Roku TV by TCL. The speakers, which are a little taller than Apple’s (AAPL) HomePod and just as thick, are meant to sit on either side of your television. Roku says that the Roku TV Wireless Speakers are tall to allow the company to pack a large subwoofer and tweeter into each device.
At first look, audio is fuller from new Roku speakers
In general, the audio I heard from the speakers sounded far fuller than the audio from the television’s built-in speakers. That’s to be expected, though, since TV speakers aren’t exactly known for offering the greatest audio quality. I wasn’t able to compare the speakers to comparable systems by the likes of Sonos, so I can’t say yet which sounds better, but I’ll get a better idea closer to launch.
Roku has ensured that the speakers can be set up anyway you want in your living room by making them wireless. Pairing the devices to your Roku TV is also expected to be easy thanks to the inclusion of the company’s Roku Connect technology. Unfortunately, I didn’t get to see the pairing process in action.
In addition to the two speakers, the bundle will include a Roku remote with voice capabilities, which should be an upgrade for most Roku TV owners, as well as the new Roku touchpad, a remote that sits on your table and allows you to create custom settings buttons. The speakers also support Bluetooth streaming from your mobile devices such as your smartphone.
Roku says that its speakers will also include an auto leveling feature that will ensure that the sound from things like show openings and commercials stay the same as the shows you’re watching rather than sounding like the world is ending compared to the show’s volume. You can also control the audio levels for the speakers, though, again, I didn’t get to see this in person.
The Roku TV Wireless Speakers will available later this year. Stay tuned.
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