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Roku announces a cheaper subwoofer, updates $30 Express streaming device

Roku OS 11.5

Roku today announced new hardware with the budget-conscious in mind, including the $130 Roku Wireless Bass subwoofer and an updated Roku Express streaming device. The company also detailed Roku OS 11.5, which includes features that should mean less time spent helplessly clicking around for something to watch.

Roku’s $130 Wireless Bass

The Roku Wireless Bass subwoofer is meant to boost the bass heard with Roku’s Streambar, Wireless Speakers, or TV Wireless Soundbar. Roku’s upcoming 5.25-inch subwoofer is a cheaper version of the already released, 10-inch Roku Wireless Bass Pro.

Roku Wireless Bass.
Enlarge / Roku Wireless Bass.

The lower-priced subwoofer sports a frequency response of 50-200 Hz, while the more expensive Wireless Bass Pro packs more at the low-end with a range of 40-200 Hz. Roku describes the new subwoofer as having a front-firing ported design compared to the Wireless Bass Pro’s downward-facing design and sealed cabinet.

Backside of the Wireless Bass.

Backside of the Wireless Bass.

Ultimately, the Wireless Bass is supposed to be a bit quieter at 90 dB versus 102 db for the Pro model.

For those with limited space, the good news is the Wireless Bass will take up less room (13.7 inches tall×6.7 inches wide×12.4 inches deep) than the more powerful option (11.8×11.8×11.8 inches), with most of the space savings coming from the speakers’ varying widths.

Like Roku’s other subwoofer, the Wireless Bass has to live within 30 feet (9.1 m) of the television in order to work.

Starting November 7, Roku will sell the Wireless Bass alone for $130, which is $50 less than the Wireless Bass Pro’s MSRP. Roku will also bundle it with its Streambar (which has a $130 MSRP on its own) for $250.

Updated Roku Express

The San Jose, California-based company also announced the 2022 version of its lowest-end Roku Express streaming device today. The device now supports dual-band Wi-Fi (2.4 and 5 GHz), a feature that Roku’s pricier streaming devices, including the Roku Express 4K+ ($40) and Roku Ultra ($100), already include.

Roku's Express comes with Roku's most basic remote.
Enlarge / Roku’s Express comes with Roku’s most basic remote.

Roku’s announcement claimed that the device has “increased” storage but didn’t disclose specifics. As usual, it will support up to 1920×1080 resolution with upscaling available from 1280×720.

The 2022 Roku Express remains at $30 with presales starting today.

Roku OS 11.5

On the software side, Roku OS 11.5 and its new features will start coming to Roku devices “in the coming months,” Roku said in today’s announcement.

One long-missed upcoming feature is “Continue Watching,” which will make it easy to continue a show or movie where you left off. The option will live in the home screen menu, under “What to Watch.” However, the feature won’t immediately work with all platforms. It should work with HBO Max, Netflix, Paramount+, and The Roku Channel, to start.

For all those times you can’t think of that movie or show you’ve been meaning to check out, OS 11.5 will bring the “Save List” feature beyond The Roku Channel and the Roku mobile app. Users’ Save lists will become available in the What to Watch section.

Other upcoming OS features seemed more geared toward getting viewers hooked on more content, be it long, short, free, or paid.

Users should get ready to see a “collection of posts featuring entertainment-centric, short-form content” under the home screen menu. Roku is calling it The Buzz and said it will include content like trailers, interviews, and images from a growing list of brands, including AMC+, Apple TV+, BET+, IGN, Showtime, Starz, The CW, Vevo, and more.

Also joining the home screen menu is the Roku Store. It will attempt to coax people into adding more channels, including both free and paid ones.

Other notable updates with OS 11.5 include the addition of Bluetooth Private Listening to the Roku Ultra, Streambar, and Streambar Pro and a Live TV channel guide for Roku’s mobile app remote.

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