Mark Ely, the company's vice president of product management, said Roku is trying to address a growing consumer problem - the fact that as TVs get thinner, you end up buying "this lovely TV, but it sounds bad". (Barring some very expensive innovations, that is.) You simply can't fit a powerful driver into a tiny space. But now, Roku's getting into the audio business with an in-house product: the company announced the Roku TV Wireless Speakers today, a set of two HomePod-esque speakers created to work exclusively with Roku TVs.
In addition to voice control, there are volume, play or pause, and skip forward and/or back buttons on the remote; two buttons can be programmed to save favorite voice commands as presets. As any owner of Bluetooth headphones can say, syncing audio with video can be complicated, but Roku claims that, with Roku Connect, latency should not be an issue. Without a comparable soundbar on hand, it's hard to tell how they sound compared to the competition.
Although the speaker system will work only with Roku TVs, the roster of those models is growing.
The wireless speakers themselves are on the plain side: two black cylinders about a foot high, which go on either side of a TV.
While the tech specs of the speakers haven't been released yet, we know how they'll connect to and work with Roku TVs.
More important than how they look, though, is how they sound. The Roku TV Wireless Stereo Speakers are stereo satellites that wirelessly pair with TVs that use the Roku TV interface, like the TCL 6-series and Element Roku TV.
In every comparison, I noticed that the lower frequencies benefited tremendously from the speakers.
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In general, the audio I heard from the speakers sounded far fuller than the audio from the television's built-in speakers. They improve on the audio provided by the TV and offer a simplified setup experience. Transformers: The Last Knight, being a Michael Bay movie, had more than its fair share of explosions, which sounded impactful and immediate.
Better streaming sound quality without all the wires and gear.
Roku promises high-quality audio with dialogue enhancements and automatic volume leveling with its speakers.
A voice command button lets users press and hold to speak to their TV.
The voice aspect of the new products is particularly intriguing since Roku's voice assistant doesn't live in the wireless speakers. First and foremost, putting some distance between the left and right channels gives a deeper and more nuanced soundscape; in a soundbar, they have to be right next to each other by necessity.
The speakers are about the size of square upright tissue boxes.
Roku focuses heavily on its licensing programs, which allow OEMs to make TVs, soundbars, and other devices that use Roku software and work seamlessly with Roku devices.
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