Roku Made Wireless TV Speakers And They're Actually Kind of Great

Better streaming sound quality without all the wires and gear.

© Roku

By Andrew Moseman, Popular Mechanics

Roku, which makes some of the best streaming stick and boxes out there, is trying something new. Today the purple company rolled out its first-ever speakers: a small pair made just for Roku smart TVs.
The duo are slightly smaller than a pair of bookshelf speakers. They include a power cord but are otherwise wireless, connecting to your TV over Wi-Fi and your phone over Bluetooth. During a demo, they put out ample sound to fill out a decent-sized living room. The speakers support voice search via the included remotes and will roll out software to optimize and normalize the sound range coming from your set (no more too-quiet movie dialogue and too-loud commercials).
© Roku   Roku Smart TV Speakers

The speakers are a clever move by Roku on a couple of levels. The company's streaming device rivals, like Google, Apple, and Amazon, are busy going to war with one another over smart home speakers made to showcase their voice assistants. Instead of dumping a fortune into that race, underdog Roku looked for a simple way to enhance the viewing experience.
That's good, because the world needs more decent, affordable audio. There's a gulf between the tinny, crappy sound out of the TV and auditory revelation of a fully realized (but expensive and complicated) sound system. It's only gotten worse as TVs have gotten thinner, cutting out the space for decent speakers.

Soundbars try to fill that gap, but a decent one isn't cheap and their long, thin shape doesn't always produce the best audio or fit everyone's space perfectly. You'd have to think plenty of people would be psyched for a way to pump up their streaming sound without having to pay for new speakers plus a receiver to hub the system. Roku's speakers just connect to your TV, no other equipment required.
© Roku   Roku Smart TV Speakers

Here comes the big "but." For launch, at least, Roku speakers connect only to smart TVs that are aligned with the Roku system. The company won't say exactly how many such sets are out there, but claims 1 in 4 smart TVs sold in the U.S. are Rokus. Many more people have a Roku Stick or box plugged into an ordinary TV, but the speakers won't work for them.
Roku says it's a whole-system issue. They don't want people to buy a pair of speakers that work when they're streaming Netflix, but not when they're playing on an Xbox. Perhaps they'll change that policy in time, because it's a disappointment: The world doesn't need more closed platforms.

Roku will be selling the speakers on, with shipping starting in October. This week you can preorder the pair for $149. The price jumps to $179 between July 24 and October 15, then up to full price at $199 after that.


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Technology News: Roku Made Wireless TV Speakers And They're Actually Kind of Great
Roku Made Wireless TV Speakers And They're Actually Kind of Great
Better streaming sound quality without all the wires and gear.
Technology News
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