Roku Unveils New Pro Series TVs & Announces Updates

It must be springtime as Roku today introduced its 2024 Pro Series of mini-LED 4K TVs and announced new features for its forthcoming OS 13 update.

The new TVs are offered in 55- ($900), 65- ($1,200), and 75-inch ($1,700) screen sizes and feature Roku Smart Picture Max processing, which uses artificial intelligence (AI) to automatically select the optimal picture mode based on what you’re watching and adjust color, contrast, and sharpness scene-by-scene in real-time.

The TVs also automatically adjust image brightness based on room lighting and support HDR10+ and Dolby Vision IQ high-dynamic range (HDR); the IQ designation refers to the use of sensors built into the TV and Dolby Vision metadata to automatically adjust picture quality based on the content and ambient light in the room.

Other key features include a 120-Hz refresh rate, side-firing “Dolby Atmos speakers” to enhance spatial effects, and a sleek shadow box design that lends the TV a framed-art look when it’s mounted on the wall using an optional slim-profile mounting kit that sells for $99. Roku says a future firmware update will provide access to a catalog of popular art that can be displayed on the TV when it’s not in use and give viewers the ability to upload and display their own photos.

Roku also announced plans to roll out a new round of OS 13 updates to devices over the next few months. The update will add a trailer to TV and movie pages and an aggregate IMDb rating created by registered IMDb users who rate titles on a scale of 1 to 10. Unlike Rotten Tomato ratings that rely on critics’ reviews, these ratings are based on the opinions of other viewers.

The most useful update is a change to the Save List that provides easy access to your saved titles and lets you know when the price of TV show or movie a title on the list drops. With movies coming from the theater to streaming at prices around $20, it’s helpful to know when prices are reduced to typically lower rental and purchase rates or become available to stream for free. Badges will also appear to indicate when new episodes are available for the TV shows on your list. Even more useful, the Save List will include titles across different platforms so won't have to open each app to find out when new episodes are ready to stream.

Another new feature is more playful than useful. Roku has added an ever-changing selection of cars to the streets of Roku City, the familiar purple, scrolling skyline you see when you open the app. Ranging from an ice cream truck to a secret agent’s favorite sports car, Roku says the cars bring a new layer of “easter egg fun” to the home screen.

Roku also announced updates for its mobile app and a new voice remote that is included with its new Pro Series TVs.

The app has been redesigned to create a richer search experience. When I looked up “Ryan Reynolds,” in addition to showing a grid of his films that you can click on, it listed his birthdate and presented a complete filmography. Clicking on a title in the list opens a details page that shows where you can rent the film or watch it for free. Another improvement that has yet to be released will include a row for “Top Searched TV and Movies” so you can see what’s trending.

The Roku Voice Remote Pro (2nd edition) is rechargeable and has buttons that can be programmed to launch favorite apps along with a finder feature: Press a button on the side of the TV and say, “Hey Roku, where’s the remote?,” and it emits a sound so you can find it. But the best feature is its motion-activated backlighting that lights up the remote when motion is detected in a dark room.

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