The Roku 4 4K Ultra HD Media Streamer Profiled

Roku 4 Streaming Media Player Package
Roku 4 Streaming Media Player Package (TV and Smartphone not included). Images provided by Roku

Dateline: 10/06/2015

Apple started things rolling in 2015 with the announcement of its  4th Generation Apple TV, followed soon after by Amazon with its new Fire TV line, and most recently, Google announced its new-look Chromecast.

However, what many consumers have been waiting for is something new from Roku, and it looks like it has delivered, not only with the unveiling of its Roku 4 Media Streamer, but an upgraded operating system and mobile app.

The Roku 4 Streaming Media Player

First up, there is the hardware. The Roku 4 streaming media player is a little larger than previous Roku Boxes, but it still has a slim spacing-saving profile.

Platform support includes a built-in Quad-Core processor (the first one for a Roku box) for fast menu and feature navigation, as well as more efficient content access.

Video support includes the ability to output up to 4K video resolution when connected to a 4K Ultra HD TV (including the availability to upscale 720p and 1080p content to 4K, as well as ability to access native 4K streaming content encoded either the HEVC (such as Netflix) or VP9 (such as YouTube) codecs.

The Roku 4 can also play video content stored on USB flash drives.

Audio support includes compatibility with Dolby Digital Plus (content dependent).

For internet connectivity, upgraded Wifi is built-in, as well as a wired Ethernet connection option, if preferred.

For connection to a TV, an HDMI output (HDCP 2.2 compliant) is provided. Also, a Digital Optical audio output is included, if needed. However, there are no other video or audio output connections available for connection to older TVs on the Roku 4 (If your TV does not have an HDMI connection, you must use the Roku 1).

A MicroSD card slot (card not included) for additional game and channel storage (up to 2GB - not used for audio, video, or still image media storage).

If you misplace the provided remote, don't worry, a convenient remote control finder feature is also included.

Roku OS7

Along with the Roku 4 media streamer, Roku has also announced the latest revamp of its operating system, referred to as OS7.

Features of OS7 include a menu category dedicated to finding 4K Ultra HD streaming content, an updated search and discovery feature that shows what programs and movies are available, as well as a "coming soon" feature that will remind you when they will be available. You can bookmark desired TV shows and movies and place them in a "My Feed" category.

Another capability of OS7 is the ability for you to take your Roku box traveling and use it in a hotel, someone else's house, or even a dorm room. Using your mobile phone, tablet, laptop, or a PC, just log into your Roku Account, follow the instructions, and you are all set to use your Roku device and account.

Roku's OS7 will be incorporated into the Roku 4, but will also be available on Roku's current media streamers as a firmware update.

Roku Mobile App

Roku has also redesigned its mobile app for iOS and Android devices that provides even more flexibility.

The mobile app now provides Voice Search, as well as duplicating several menu categories that are a part of the Roku TV OS7 onscreen menu system, allowing you to control Roku players directly from your compatible mobile device.

In addition, you can use your mobile device to send videos and photos to your Roku box and see them on your TV screen.

The firmware updates for OS7 and the Mobile App for current Roku devices and smartphones will take place beginning in mid-October 2015, and should be completed by November.

More Info

The Roku platform provides consumers with the ability to add media streaming capabilities to just about any TV or video projector (depending on which Roku model you choose), and the Roku 4 takes it up a notch with the ability to access 4K streaming content.

Check out a feature comparison of all available Roku Players

Also, although the number of 4K streaming services is still small (Netflix, M-Go, Amazon Instant Video, ToonGoogles, Vudu, and YouTube), the number is growing, and if you take into consideration the total number of streaming content channels available via a Roku box or streaming stick (up to about 2,500 as of 2015), there is definitely enough entertainment to fill your day.

However, keep in mind that although some internet channels are free, many do require either a monthly subscription payment or a pay-per-view fee. In other words, the Roku box and platform provides access to available internet streaming services, what you watch and want to pay for beyond that is up to you.

The suggested price for the Roku 4 is $129.99 Official Product Page (Expected date of first shipments from Roku or Amazon is October 21, 2015).

For details on other entries in Roku's product line announced during 2015, read my previous report: Roku Announces Upgraded Roku 2 and 3 Boxes For 2015

Also, in addition to standalone streaming media players, Roku also offers the Roku Streaming Stick, and has also partnered with several TV makers, such as Best Buy Insignia, Sharp, Haier, and TCL to incorporate the Roku operating system right into select TVs.

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