Is Roku 4 out yet? No, but it's coming really soon and, for what I've read and seen about it, it will be a pretty good option as a device for your HTPC. Several nice features that added together make it stand out among other players. It is the first Roku 4k device, and although it's bigger than its predecessor, it is also faster, more powerful and offers quite a good experience when combined with the new Roku app. Want to know more about it? Then keep reading our Roku 4 preview!
Basically, if you're familiar with these devices you will know they are pretty similar to Android TV boxes, but with their own operating system and apps you can install. Actually, they have lots of apps; in our Roku 4 preview we saw that this device will give you access to more than 2500 channels on demand, offering more than 300 thousand movies and TV show episodes. In fact, you can install Plex on Roku; well, at least on its previous versions but there's no reason to assume it won't be possible on the newest 4k Roku TV as well. Keep this in mind if you are a Kodi fan, though: XBMC/Kodi can't be installed on Roku. If you absolutely need it, I'd recommend getting an Android media player and installing on it Kodi for Android, instead.
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Roku 4 Preview: a bunch of cool features
In our Roku 4 preview, a selling point that stands out immediately is the remote. With a dedicated audio output, you can connect headphones to it and watch movies late at night without disturbing anyone at home. You can also use voice search, which is pretty competitive and smart -and is also present on the Roku 3, but still needs to be mentioned-. It has been compared to the voice search feature present on devices such as the Amazon Fire TV 4k, and others. [Read: NVIDIA SHIELD TV: An amazing option for your media center]
If, by any chance, you lose the remote for your Roku 4k, there's a button on top of the Roku box to help you find it. Once pressed, Roku will wirelessly instruct the remote to emit a powerful noise, making it easier to find. This feature, along with voice search and the increased image quality, are welcome additions we saw on our Roku 4 preview, and make it an amazing option for the overall comfort of using it as your main HTPC device. One question remains, though: just how powerful is this device, hardware wise?
Roku 4 Preview: Technical specifications
- roDeviceInfo.GetModel(): 4400X
- CPU: ARM quad core
- Accelerated Graphics API: OpenGL ES 2.0
- RAM: 1.5GB
- HDMI 720p Video Out: Yes
- HDMI 1080p Video Out: Yes
- HDMI 2160p Video Out: Yes
- S/PDIF Port: Yes
- Wi-Fi (b/g/n): Yes
- Wi-Fi (n 2×2): Yes
- Ethernet Port: Yes
- USB 2.0: Yes
- Supports Games < 750K: Yes
- Supports Games > 750K: Yes
- microSD Slot: Yes
- 802.11ac MIMO dual-band wireless
- 10/100 Base-T Ethernet
- Up to 4K UHD (3840 × 2160) on 4K UHD TVs
- Up to 1080p HD (1920 x 1080) on HD TVs
- Up-scales 720p to 1080p HD on 1080p HD and 4K UHD TVs
- Up-scales 1080p HD to 4K UHD on 4K UHD TVs
- 4K UHD 60 fps HEVC Playback
- 4K UHD 30 fps VP9 Playback (YouTube)
- Playback from USB drives
- Dolby Digital Plus 7.1 surround sound passed through via HDMI or optical output
- Enhanced remote with voice search, point anywhere use, headphone jack, and motion-control for gaming.
- Player includes IR receiver, compatible with various universal remotes.
- Speaker for Remote Finder alerts
- 12.4W (typical) when streaming 4K UHD video
- 12V – 2A power adapter
- Video: MP4 (H.264), MKV (H.264), HEVC (H.265)
- Audio: MP3, Apple Lossless, WMA, AAC
- Image: JPG, PNG, up to 4K UHD resolution
- 6.5 x 6.5 x 0.8 inches
- 0.9 lb.
As you can see from the specs list on our Roku 4 preview, this is a very powerful device for media playback. Though it is stated it has support for games as well, most impressions are that it won't be up to par on the gaming experience. If gaming is important for you on your HTPC device, you might want to hold on a bit before installing Roku. Nevertheless, my impression is that the Roku 4k is a very powerful and neat HTPC device, and will perform well -at least for casual gaming- once it is launched. [Read: 10 best Kodi gaming addons you didn’t know about]
Roku 4 Preview: Would you recommend it?
With the Roku 4 release date already upon us (in the next few days) you might be reading a lot of sources regarding your final buying decision for this device. You should be aware of the strong points and limitations of the Roku devices if you want to decide whether to buy it or not. If you want to set up an HTPC for someone not that tech-savvy or just want to get your hands on an easy to use and powerful media streamer, then our Roku 4 preview says this device might be for you. On the contrary, if you enjoy tweaking every aspect of your media, you might want to look at other options. Add to this equation the decent -yet not so low- $130 price tag for preorders, and you might be better off holding a little bit on purchasing this device, once it has come out and you know for sure what it is capable of.