The new Roku Ultra has Dolby Vision and improved Wi-Fi performance

It’s fall, so that means it’s time for the annual refresh of Roku hardware. In addition to the Streambar announced today, the company’s streaming player lineup is led by a refreshed Roku Ultra. For the first time, the flagship device now supports Dolby Vision HDR. Many Roku TVs already offer the format, but so far Roku’s standalone devices have not. (They’ve had Dolby Atmos audio, however, which the Ultra retains.) The company is also adding support for the AV1 codec, which video platforms are increasingly starting to adopt.

Roku says the new Ultra also features significantly improved wireless performance with 50 percent greater range than the prior model. There’s still an Ethernet port if you want a hardwired connection, though.

The 2020 Ultra costs the usual $99.99. You can get a great streaming player in Roku’s lineup for under half that price, but those won’t have Dolby Vision, Ethernet, or a remote finder button — and we all wish our gadgets had the latter from time to time.

This latest Ultra comes just after Amazon announced its upgraded Fire TV Stick and Fire TV Stick Lite, which both cost under $50, and as Google prepares to launch the new, very-leaked Chromecast with Google TV at an event later this week.

Here’s how Roku’s streaming devices lineup shakes out:


Cool, but the real reason to get the Ultra is ethernet support.

But it’s still not gigabit Ethernet

It’s better than no Ethernet at all.

What’s the point of gigabit ethernet on a streaming device?

While internet streaming has a relatively low bitrate, streaming local files could easily require more than 100 Mbps, if even for shorter periods.
Content at 2160p60 w/ HDR, or 2160p120 and even 4320p isn’t too far fetched for people to create & have these days. Next year, maybe…

And cooling. The separate ‘box’ formats are so much better than the sticks. Sometimes for reception, too. I’m baffled that Amazon revealed only the sticks last time.

Better late then never regarding DV. With their recent fights with the different streaming companies, still not sure I’d buy another Roku anymore.

Unfortunately, it seem like the fighting will be difficult to avoid. Roku fighting with HBO and NBC, Amazon fighting with HBO and NBC, Google having a history of fighting with Amazon. I believe Apple also had a tiff with Amazon or one of the other streamers but I can’t recall.

As of now, Apple and Google seem like the best option but nothing is guaranteed.

Disputes between creators/distributors/platform-owners are poised to be exactly the same as the tried-and-true cable carriage disputes and may continue to get worse. I don’t know what kind of terms are being negotiated between these parties but if it’s anything time-based it will be an ongoing problem.

It’s percentage of subscription profits when done on the respective box (just like IOS and Play Store) and also ad revenues/carriage on certain services.

Keep in mind that means that there is advertising tracking that can be turned off in the settings. Worse, some TV providers use screen captures to track users and send the data overseas, but you won’t hear politicians talking about that.

I was mainly questioning the duration of the agreements. For cable, they typically negotiated for x number of years, and every time "x" happened, there seemed to be a dispute. I don’t know if these agreements are in perpetuity but I somehow doubt it.

Similarly, the "ad revenue/carriage on certain services" is what makes it complicated since, according to WarnerMedia, they just want the same deal for HBO Max that Netflix and Amazon have, whatever that means.

Didn’t Roku and NBCUniversal end up reaching a deal regarding Peacock?

Yes, but it required the typical back and forth of a carriage negotiation which resulted in Peacock not being available for a short period of time, and there’s nothing saying that something like that couldn’t happen again in the future when one party or another feels that their value has increased, assuming the deal was not signed for an infinite amount of time.

So the cheaper rokus still don’t have 5GHz WiFi huh?

Honestly, the only thing I feel like I’m missing from any of my Rokus are a more modern and streamlined UI. It just feels dated, even if the performance and app selection is good.

Not sure I want a more modern UI. Everyone seems to be just pushing their own content or paid promoted content. Roku basically just lets you get straight to the apps.

Yep. It’s much better than anything flashier IMO.

Hard disagree. Their UI is fantastic. For the input and the medium of varying tv sizes, it’s quick and dead simple

The "find your remote" button doesn’t work at all, because the remote goes to sleep about 10 seconds after the last button press and stops listening for the button. Still waiting for a fix for last year’s Ultra. Does the new model actually work, by chance?

Dolby Vision. Finally. Now add it to the 4K stick, I’ll even pay the license fee to get it.

This…I can’t fathom why these features aren’t baked into all hardware and unlockable via software. Seems like a better solution than all the various SKUs.

I’ll even go a step further. I know they’re a hardware company, and make ancillary money off of the ads they put on the side of the app grid. So as not to lose money from not needing to make a sale with me, up sell me that license fee by 5 bucks. That would land me around 10 dollars total, the Dolby Vision license fee is like 3 dollars per TV set. Completely acceptable.

So between the Premiere & Express Plus, which is the better model? Both cost the same based on the pricing listed here.

It’s depends on what TV you have. Premiere has 4K and HDR support, but doesn’t has the voice remote. Express Plus has the voice remote, but caps out at HD SDR only.

which has the better internals(speed & wifi) for longevity if 4k isn’t a deciding factor.

I just want apple play.

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