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TCL announces the first soundbar with Roku’s voice assistant

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You’ll start saying “Hey Roku” in late 2018

TCL’s Roku TVs are very successful, so it’s not too surprising to see the closely-aligned companies collaborating on the first soundbar to feature the Entertainment Assistant recently announced by Roku. Today at CES, Roku offered a preview of the soundbar that it’s plainly branding as the TCL Roku Smart Soundbar. The company is cautioning that these images aren’t the final product and that changes might occur before it ships. The Smart Soundbar will be part of TCL’s new Alto line of audio products.

But you can think of this as Roku’s answer to Google Assistant and Alexa, which both allow consumers to control content on their TVs (and often the TVs themselves) if they’ve got a supported streaming device like a Chromecast or Fire TV, respectively.

Roku wants people who own its set-top boxes, streaming sticks, and Roku TVs to have that same hands-free convenience. You just say “Hey Roku” and then your command. Here’s what TCL and Roku are saying the soundbar will make possible:

Roku Entertainment Assistant will allow for seamless voice control of Roku OS devices in the home. For example, the TCL Roku Smart Soundbar will be able to turn on a TCL Roku TV when asked to launch video content or stream audio even when the TV is turned off. Consumers will be able to use their voice to play, pause and resume music and audio without picking up a remote control or pushing a button. They will also be able to search for and explore a large selection of entertainment.

Sound familiar? That’s right on par with what you can do with the assistants from Google and Amazon today. TCL says it expects to ship the TCL Roku Smart Soundbar in late 2018.