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Roku just fixed the most annoying thing about its remote

Roku remote
(Image credit: Tom's Guide)

If a new leak (first written by The Streamable) is to be believed, Roku may have just released a new feature-rich version of its remote that's worth paying attention to. Titled the Roku Voice Remote Pro, it will house "hands-free voice controls," a rechargeable battery and a lost remote finder. 

Unfortunately, according to users on Reddit, the listing seems to already have been taken down, with some claiming it's on backorder. Curiously, the leaked image embedded below also shows blank buttons where branded ones might be. This likely is an error on Roku's part, as this product may have been unveiled a tad prematurely. When it is officially unveiled, it will probably feature services such as Netflix, Sling and others.

The Streamable did reach out to Roku and was given the following statement: “We’re always working on bringing new products and features to Roku users, and part of that process is publicly testing new ideas with a small set of our customers.”

The Roku Voice Remote Pro looks remarkably similar to the one that comes with the Roku Ultra. That means users will get two customizable shortcuts, TV controls, a headphone jack for private listening and a mute button.

Roku makes an excellent streaming user interface. It's why we believe Roku beats every other streaming device, including ones from Amazon, Google and Apple. 

roku remote rechargeable battery

(Image credit: Kingtut206/Reddit)

So far, the Roku Voice Remote Pro is only available to members of the company’s Early Access Program, and will set users back $30. That’s the same price as the entry-level Roku Express, for those keeping score. The small print also says that only 2,000 of these will be sold, and according to Reddit, the offer page has already been taken down.

That means you won’t be getting one of these anytime soon, even if you are already a Roku early access member.

Per the small print at the bottom of the screen, it says “channel pre-set buttons vary." This likely means that different regions get different streaming services pre-programmed on remotes. While users on Reddit wished Roku would make all these buttons programmable, customers will likely only be allowed to customize the "1" and "2" buttons. It's annoying as I constantly find myself accidentally hitting the Sling button, which asks me to download the service.

This remote would be appealing to those that have a cheaper Roku device, like the Express or Premiere, assuming there's compatibility. That said, if you have a more expensive Roku streamer, you’ll likely have a lot of these features already. 

Luckily, Roku batteries tend to last a long time. It's hard to recall the last time I had to change mine. The good thing with the Voice Remote Pro is that it shows Roku is willing to improve and listen to its customers.

Because this product is currently being tested with a small number of Roku customers, it's possible a final version will become fully available sooner rather than later.

Tom Pritchard

Tom covers a little bit of everything at Tom’s Guide, ranging from the latest electric cars all the way down to hot takes on why Christopher Nolan is wrong about everything. Appliances are also muscling their way into his routine, which is a pretty long way from his days as Editor at Gizmodo UK. He’s usually found trying to squeeze another giant Lego set onto the shelf, draining very large cups of coffee, or complaining that Ikea won’t let him buy the stuff he really needs online. 

  • Festsgrber
    I beg to differ. The most annoying thing is roku remotes seem to be universal for all roku devices, meaning I can’t have two devices in the same room. One remote controls more than one device.
    Reply
  • Steve237562
    Actually... Since Roku integrated all the Pluto channels into the TV app, I'm pretty sure the most annoying thing is the lack of numbers! Or at least the ability to delete or favorite channels...
    Reply
  • SleepyD
    Festsgrber said:
    I beg to differ. The most annoying thing is roku remotes seem to be universal for all roku devices, meaning I can’t have two devices in the same room. One remote controls more than one device.

    i’m curious. Why do you need two Roku’s in the room?
    Reply
  • SleepyD
    Steve237562 said:
    Actually... Since Roku integrated all the Pluto channels into the TV app, I'm pretty sure the most annoying thing is the lack of numbers! Or at least the ability to delete or favorite channels...

    Have you tried creating an account with Pluto? I think you can favorites channels when you have logged into an account.
    Reply
  • SFBob
    Oh Boy!

    A rechargeable battery.

    If it's built in, every few years when the battery dies out we'll have to go to the trouble and expense of replacing the entire device, just like the great majority of our so-called "smart" phones.

    Next thing you know, they'll waterproof it so it's hard to open for repair and make it out of some pretty, but easily broken material like glass.
    Reply
  • Steve237562
    SleepyD said:
    Have you tried creating an account with Pluto? I think you can favorites channels when you have logged into an account.

    I don't think that would affect the "channels" that come after the OTA ones in the TV app. I could just use the Pluto app, but I do like flipping between OTA channels and streaming ones. I thought it was cool when they integrated them, I just wish there was an easier way to flip. Also, the counter-clockwise arrow button means "previous channel" when you're on a streaming channel, but on an OTA channel, it just rewinds 10 seconds or something. So I have to go back to the guide and scroll down. All petty complaints, I just hate when designers try to go all Apple and sacrifice utility for aesthetics.
    Reply
  • Steve237562
    SFBob said:
    Oh Boy!

    A rechargeable battery.

    If it's built in, every few years when the battery dies out we'll have to go to the trouble and expense of replacing the entire device, just like the great majority of our so-called "smart" phones.

    Next thing you know, they'll waterproof it so it's hard to open for repair and make it out of some pretty, but easily broken material like glass.

    But it would be so ELEGANT. Isn't every designer striving for approval from the ghost of Steve Jobs?
    Reply
  • kyancy
    I have to change my Roku remote batteries quite frequently at about once a month. I use the headphone jack extensively so guessing that's what drains my batteries much quicker than those on here who say they rarely or never change batteries.

    Since I already have the Ultra remote, there's nothing about this leak that piques my interest in the least. In fact, the idea of proprietary rechargeable batteries actually concerns me as I can already use rechargeable AA batteries if I really want to and I hate to imagine being stuck with a dead remote one night where I can't just pop in new batteries.
    Reply
  • Rangerstyle
    The reason the app buttons are blanked out is because Roku sells those button spots to whomever pays the most money, plus they are sold in different varieties.

    Purchase a Roku in Cali, and you might have Netflix, Amazon,Hulu, and HBOMax. Purchase in New York, and you might lose Hulu for Disney.

    It's always about money, and keeping the buttons blank saves having to make multiple advertisements for the different regions.
    Reply