Tom's Guide Verdict
The Roku Voice Remote Pro is a major upgrade, with a rechargeable battery and hands-free voice feature
Rechargeable (no more AAA batteries!)
Hands-free voice option
Find my remote command easier than ever
Two customizable buttons
A bit expensive
Why you can trust Tom's Guide
Hey Roku, where's my new Voice Remote Pro? The streaming device company announced it's rolling out the Roku Voice Remote Pro, an upgraded version of its current remote. It features a rechargeable battery and hands-free voice, so users can just say "Hey Roku" and a command to turn on their TV, control playback, adjust the volume and find their favorite show — all without pressing a button.
And the always-listening function makes it easy to find your remote if you've lost it in the couch cushions or misplaced it. Just say "Hey Roku, where's my remote?" and listen for the chime.
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Anyone who doesn't want a device to listen all the time can switch off the hands-free voice feature and press the voice button to speak commands.
The Roku Voice Remote Pro carries over all the functions of the regular remote, including the ability to turn on the TV, adjust the volume and use private listening with the headphone jack. We like the Roku Voice Remote Pro so much that it won the 2021 Tom's Guide Award for Best Streaming Device Remote, beating out Apple's highly anticipated new Siri Remote for the Apple TV.
I used the new remote for several days for this Roku Voice Remote Pro review.
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Roku Voice Remote Pro price and devices
The new Roku Voice Remote Pro is compatible with all Roku TV models, audio devices and select streaming players.
The price is $29.99 and it will be sold by all major retailers, including Amazon and Best Buy.
That's $10 more than the regular Roku Voice Remote, which lacks the two customizable buttons.
Roku Voice Remote Pro design
The Roku Voice Remote Pro looks and feels almost identical to the remote that comes with the Roku Ultra. It has all the same buttons — power, home, playback controls, a directional pad and four branded shortcut buttons for Netflix, Disney Plus, Hulu and Sling.
There are also two personal shortcut buttons that save voice commands. I said, "Hey Roku, open Spotify" and then long-pressed "1" to save that action. After that, I could hit that button to fire up the Spotify app.
I really like the option to have personalized buttons, since Roku doesn't have shortcuts for all the streaming services. This way, I could quickly get to Spotify or HBO Max. And if I find myself using Peacock more often, I can easily switch it to one of the personal shortcuts.
On one side, there are volume up and down buttons as well as a mute button. On the other side is the switch to turn on/off the hands-free voice feature and a headphone jack.
Roku Voice Remote Pro rechargeable battery
The Roku Voice Remote Pro is a little bit heavier than the previous remote, likely due to the rechargeable battery — definitely the best upgrade and one we've been hoping to get for some time.
Roku says a single charge can last as long as two months. I haven't had it long enough to test that out, but I'm happy as long as I don't have to keep scrounging for AAA batteries.
Roku Voice Remote Pro voice features
Aside from the rechargeable battery, the other major upgrade is the hands-free voice feature. Turn on a switch on the side of the remote and it will always listen for spoken commands, which start with "Hey Roku." Using hands-free voice, I was able to turn up and turn down the volume, search for a movie and open various apps.
The company told me it can hear within 12 feet. I tried talking to the remote from that distance and commands worked, though I did have to raise my voice. Like with other hands-free voice devices, sometimes the Roku remote didn't hear me correctly. When I was watching Devil Wears Prada, I said "Hey Roku, pause." But the remote thought I said "has" instead. So, make sure to enunciate!
Personally, I don't like always-listening devices and don't have any in my home (aside from my iPhone, which I swear is eavesdropping on me). Luckily, you can just switch off the hands-free function and press the microphone button to issue voice commands.
Roku Voice Remote Pro review: Verdict
I don't have that much to say about the Roku Voice Remote Pro other than that it's great. It fixes the biggest problem we had with Roku's previous remotes by adding a rechargeable battery. I'm tired of hunting down AAA batteries for my various remotes. Plus, this is more sustainable.
The only ding on the Roku Voice Remote Pro is that it is a little pricey at $29.99. The new Roku Express 4K Plus is just $10 more and that's an entire streaming device (and comes with a remote). But it's a good investment if you're like me and don't want to keep a stock of batteries around.
Roku's remotes have always been good; they're easy to use, unlike other device remotes (yeah, we're looking at you Apple TV). Now, with these upgrades, Roku has made the perfect accessory for your streaming life.
Kelly is the streaming channel editor for Tom’s Guide, so basically, she watches TV for a living. Previously, she was a freelance entertainment writer for Yahoo, Vulture, TV Guide and other outlets. When she’s not watching TV and movies for work, she’s watching them for fun, seeing live music, writing songs, knitting and gardening.
Yet another device that's always on and always listening??? No thanks. No such devices are allowed in my house (the closest such device I have, my phone, has voice control shut OFF).Reply
Rechargable battery? Yep, that would be good. But if I want to find the remote, I'd rather have a paging button on the Roku device itself. And while they're at it, the quick-access buttons should be programmable, not hard-coded to services that end up going out of business anyway.
Not another device with an integrated battery destined to become yet more junk once the battery no longer functions. Why not stick to tried and true AAA batteries? Rechargeables are ubiquitous and you don't have to throw away the entire device when a battery wears out. A much more sustainable option.Reply