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Roku's Express 4K Plus player offers HDR and a new interface

The software may be as important as the hardware.

Published onApril 13, 2021

roku express 4k plus
  • Roku has unveiled the Express 4k Plus, a budget player that boasts more powerful hardware capable of HDR.
  • It’s also the first device to ship with the simpler, more powerful Roku OS 10.
  • The Plus ships in mid-May for $39.99, while a new remote and the Streambar Pro are also on deck.

One of Roku’s most affordable media hubs just became much more capable. Roku has introduced the Express 4K Plus, an upgrade to the base Express that adds 4K HDR (in HDR10 and HDR10 Plus) as well as greater overall performance and a fresh interface.

The faster quad-core processor, dual-band Wi-Fi and extra onboard storage in the Express 4K Plus help not just with playback, but improved channel load times. You’ll also get a voice remote and the latest ecosystem support, including control from Alexa, Google Assistant, and Apple’s HomeKit.

Software might play as much of a role as the hardware. The Express 4K Plus is the first Roku player to debut with OS 10, which promises a more powerful but streamlined experience. The most practical upgrade may be Instant Resume – you can quickly hop back to the last place in a given channel. The feature is currently limited to supporting channels like AT&T TV, Starz, and The Roku Channel, but more are expected in the future.

Related: The best Roku channels to watch

Setup should also be easier with automatic Wi-Fi detection, recognition of game consoles on Roku TVs and voice entry for some on-screen keyboards. You can customize the live TV guide in the US by adding favorite channels or hiding others, and voice searches provide more visual and comprehensive results.

You’ll get more raw capability. OS 10 brings AirPlay 2 and HomeKit to HD-only Roku devices, not just UHD hardware like the Express 4K Plus. HDR10+ is similarly new to the Express 4K family and the Ultra. Virtual Surround, meanwhile, enables immersive sound for Roku soundbars.

The Express 4K Plus will be available mid-May for $39.99. A sibling, the Express 4K, will ship with a basic remote and goes on sale for $35 in the US, Canada, Mexico, and the UK over the course of the “coming weeks.”

A $29.99 Voice Remote Pro is available now and solves some of the key gripes with the standard control, including a USB-rechargeable battery, a lost remote finder and hands-free voice. If you want upgraded sound, a $179.99 Streambar Pro evolves the Smart Soundbar with a voice-capable remote and support for Virtual Surround. It goes on sale through Roku’s site in late May, and reaches retailers in June.

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