Streaming players are what Roku do best. For over 10 years, the American brand has created devices to make it easier for us to watch our favourite streaming services on the bigger TV screen.
Released last year, the Roku Streambar is one of the brand’s newest creations and is designed to be a one-stop-shop for upgrading your TV. A combination of a soundbar and smart TV stick in one, the Roku Streambar not only brings apps and channels to your ‘non-smart’ TV but improves its sound, too.
With any amalgamation, there are always doubts around whether these products are promising too much and if they can really deliver on both fronts. So, are you better off spending more on two individual products? Or does the Roku Streambar come through?
In short, the Roku Streambar does everything it says it does. It’s quick and easy to set-up, voice control makes searching the homepage simple, and both the sound and streaming qualities are excellent.
But to answer these questions fully, we put the Roku Streambar to the test. We assessed its streaming quality, sound quality and design, alongside practical factors such as how easy it is to set-up and use. All this is considered against its price tag to decide if its good value for money and worth of a high star rating.
Here is our Roku Streambar review as we put this affordable, all-in-one device to the test.
- Roku Streambar review: summary
- What is Roku Streambar?
- How much is Roku Streambar?
- Sound quality
- Streaming quality
- Roku Streambar set-up
- Difference between Roku Streambar and Roku Premiere
- Our verdict
- Where to buy
It is hard to find fault with the Roku Streambar. At £129.99, it offers brilliant value combining crisp sound with 4K streaming capabilities in one device. Voice control is offered via the remote and works well, particularly excelling when searching the Roku homepage. It offers a great range of streaming services and apps, including Disney+, BT Sport, Spotify, YouTube and Amazon Prime Video. There’s no better device to upgrade an old TV with.
- 4K streaming
- Automatically quietens loud adverts
- Voice remote
- Works with Alexa and Google Assistant
- Private Listening mode streams audio to your phone and allows you to listen via your headphones
Free extra remote with the Roku mobile app
- Stream music with Bluetooth and Spotify Connect
- Access to apps including Disney+, Netflix, Amazon Prime Video and BT Sport
- Great value for money
- Small soundbar fits into any set-up
- Can be mounted
- Produces crisp and well-rounded sound
- Great choice of channels and apps
- No Dolby Vision
The Roku Streambar can be used to upgrade any TV with streaming apps and richer sound. Launched in September 2020, the Roku Streambar is a step up from a traditional streaming device like the Roku Premiere while still providing that same 4K streaming quality. It’s both a decent streaming player and soundbar with a good sound and streaming quality, user-friendly homepage for an affordable price.
What does Roku Streambar do?
The Roku Streambar is designed to give you access to apps and channels such as Amazon Prime Video, Spotify and BT Sport and improve your TV’s sound. One remote controls both elements and includes buttons for voice control, volume, pause/play and shortcuts to Spotify and Netflix.
- 4K HDR streaming
- Stream music via Bluetooth or Spotify Connect
- Automatically quietens loud adverts
- Ability to watch live TV along with streaming services like Netflix, NOW TV, Disney+ and Amazon Prime Video
- Private Listening mode (via Roku app) so that you can listen to your TV audio through your headphones
Is Roku Streambar good value for money?
The Roku Streambar is brilliant value for money. For an RRP of £129.99, the soundbar delivers 4K streaming quality that does not buffer and well-rounded sound that is a vast improvement on TV-only audio. It is on the smaller side, but the volume and quality of sound were impressive for its size. Plus, considering that soundbars can cost upwards of £800, you’re getting a lot of extra features such as voice control for a very affordable price.
For a full breakdown on costs, we have a dedicated explainer on Roku’s costs.
Almost half the size of most soundbars, the Roku Streambar should slot into any TV set-up you have without too much reorganising. With curved edges at each end, the sound covers an impressive area and is not noticeably one-directional.
And while the Roku Streambar is not strictly designed to be portable, the size and ease of the soundbar’s set-up mean that it is no trouble to unplug and move. You should have no problem moving it around the house and switching it to another TV once its in use.
Style: With an all-black design, the Roku Streambar has a sleek yet simple design. The brand’s name is positioned, also in black, on the front of the soundbar.
Robustness: While not particularly heavy, the Roku Streambar feels sturdy. We had no concerns about it getting damaged while moving it about and setting up, and it feels well-balanced, so you do not have to worry about it tipping over or getting knocked.
Size: The main hub is only 40cm long, 10cm deep and 8cm tall. It will fit comfortably on any TV stand or can be mounted. The accompanying remote is a tad smaller than a traditional TV one but has all the essentials, including play/pause, volume and home buttons.
When buying a soundbar, there is nothing more important than sound quality. Yes, the Roku Streambar has more additional features than most, but to do its job well, Roku has to first get the sound quality right.
And it has. We saw an immediate improvement from our TV audio as the sound was crisp and well-rounded. The device has four internal speakers to create a rich sound with Dolby Audio. We saw the biggest improvement when it came to background tracks on games, TV shows and music, which were a lot clearer or, in some cases, noticeable for the first time.
The volume range is good, too. We rarely had to go above 16 (out of 100) on the volume level, and the sound filled the room. This is helped by the curved shape of the soundbar, which means that the sound isn’t only sent directly out of the device’s front but to each side, too.
Even when the volume was up high, the Roku Streambar had no problem picking up requests when using voice control. The voice control worked best when searching the homepage for apps or channels but was 95% accurate with any request, including pausing and playing TV shows or music.
The Roku Streambar offers 4K HDR streaming of apps and channels, including BT Sport, NOW TV and BBC iPlayer. The picture quality was sharp and bright across the likes of Netflix, Amazon Prime Video and YouTube, and there was no lag. On occasion, a film took a second to load, but this is to be expected and is no different to if it was loaded on a smart TV.
A Roku device is a good option if you want a more neutral offering than big entertainment brands such as Amazon or Apple. For example, on the Amazon Fire TV Stick, Amazon Prime Video content is incredibly prominent on the homepage. If you have an Amazon Prime Video membership, this is unlikely to bother you, but if you don’t use it very much or at all, you may prefer the more balanced Roku TV homepage.
Roku prides itself on the set-up of its devices being easy, and it is. Everything you need to get started is supplied in the box. This includes the Roku Streambar itself, a remote, power adaptor and cable, high-speed HDMI cable and even two AAA batteries (for the remote).
From the box to watching TV, the whole process took just under 18 minutes. This may seem like a while, but this did include all those fiddly elements such as making a Roku account, finding the Wi-Fi password and adding payment details for any subscriptions or downloads. All this considered, we were pretty happy.
The instructions were clear, simple and largely prompted via the TV. It is also worth noting that this time would be considerably less if you have a Roku TV because several steps can be bypassed.
Finally, we would also suggest downloading the Roku app. Some brand’s apps can be a little superfluous, but Roku’s actually has a few features that make it worth it. First, it comes with a free extra remote. If you’re the type of person who is always losing everything down the back of the sofa, you need this.
And second; is the Private Listening mode. Designed to let you watch TV without disrupting others, the feature allows you to stream the TV audio via the app so that you can watch with headphones in. For anyone with an unconventional sleeping pattern, works night shifts or doesn’t want to cause too much noise, this function is brilliant.
The two most obvious differences between the Roku Streambar and the Roku Premiere is the size and price of these two streaming players. Because of its additional audio features, the Roku Streambar is over 40cm long and has an RRP of £129.99, while the Roku Premiere is considerably less at £39.99 and is the same size as a fun-size chocolate bar.
However, they both function by slotting into the HDMI port in the back of the TV and provide 4K streaming of apps such as Netflix, Amazon Prime Video, NOW TV and YouTube. The added benefit of the Roku Streambar is that it will also improve your TV’s audio, including quietening overly loud adverts.
Beyond this, both have the same Roku TV homepage, voice control and the same great variety of apps. The Roku app is also available with both devices and makes typing out passwords a lot easier.
An extra remote is included within the app, along with the Private Listening mode that allows you to listen to the TV audio via the app with headphones. It is a great feature if you have a usual sleeping pattern or don’t want to disrupt others in the house. The physical remotes look pretty similar, too, although the Roku Streambar’s remote has the addition of TV controls such as volume and power buttons.
Deciding between these two devices largely depends on how much you’re looking to spend and whether you feel like your TV audio could do with a boost. If you feel like the latter applies to you, buy the Roku Streambar. Otherwise, the Roku Premiere will suit you just fine.
If your TV does not have 4K capabilities, we suggest saving a bit of cash and trying out the Roku Express or NOW TV Smart Stick instead. To find out more about the USB-style stick, read our What is a NOW TV Stick explainer.
The Roku Streambar is punching way beyond its price tag. For £129.99, you not only get 4K streaming and access to apps such as Disney+, Amazon Prime Video, Spotify and YouTube, but also richer sound quality. The Roku Streambar is almost half the size of most soundbars, but it still delivers well-rounded sound that is noticeably better than that of a TV alone. Plus, the size means that it will fit into any TV set-up no problem.
Admittedly, if you’re trying to fill a cinema-sized room with sound, the Roku Streambar will likely fall a little short, but if you’re simply upgrading a TV that has seen better days, there’s no better device than the Roku Streambar.
It goes way beyond any offering from even the best streaming stick for only marginally more than the Amazon Fire TV Cube. The streaming quality is great, with no lag and voice control via the app remote means that you can search the homepage hands-free. Roku has quickly become known as the go-to brand for affordable streaming devices, and the Roku Streambar is a true representation of this.
Sound quality: 4/5
Streaming quality: 4/5
Value for money: 5/5
The Roku Streambar is available at several retailers.
Roku Streambar deals
Source : https://www.radiotimes.com/technology/tech-reviews/roku-streambar-review/
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