$40 for a 4K streamer? Thanks, Roku. Now, there’s officially no reason left to buy a streaming device that caps out at 1080p.

To be fair, other sub-$50 4K streamers already exist, including last year’s best-in-class Chromecast with Google TV. Roku’s merely adding itself to that list this May with the new Express 4K+, a $40 ultra HD upgrade to the existing Roku Express streaming box. 

The Express 4K+ features more storage space and an upgraded processor, the latter of which will hopefully smooth out the UI alongside the new higher resolution output. And unlike the simple remote that shipped with the old Express, this one comes with a voice remote for easier searching. Finally, microUSB Ethernet support means you can ditch WiFi and wire up, if that’s your preference. 

Voice Remote Pro comes with a headphone jack and a hardware switch for the microphone.

Voice Remote Pro comes with a headphone jack and a hardware switch for the microphone.

Image: roku

Also of note is Roku’s new Voice Remote Pro, which will bring a few handy new features to all Roku TVs and “select” streaming devices for $30 this spring.

The biggest of these new features is undoubtedly the inclusion of a rechargeable battery — you won’t need those AAA batteries anymore. Roku says the Voice Remote Pro can last two months on a single charge. Beyond that, you get a microphone jack for private TV listening, a hardware switch to turn off the built-in mic (in case you’re worried companies are listening to you), and a “lost remote finder” function that can be activated via voice command or the Roku mobile app. 

There is one other minor product change for Roku this spring, and it’s the Streambar Pro. 

This is essentially a rebrand of the excellent Smart Soundbar from 2019, bringing it more in line with last year’s smaller Streambar. It’s still $180, but the rebranded version’s remote has a headphone jack and reprogrammable shortcut buttons, unlike the 2019 original. Both the Streambar Pro and Smart Soundbar will get a “Virtual Surround” software update that will supposedly create more of a surround-sound-like feel without the need for extra hardware. Though it remains to be seen how well that works.

Few of these feature additions are game-changing, but the Express 4K+ at least serves to demonstrate the extreme cheapness of upgrading to 4K in 2021. If you’ve got a 4K TV, there’s really no excuse not to get a streaming device that’s up to speed. 

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