Video: 4K, Dolby Vision
Audio: Dolby Atmos
Processor: Quad-core CPU
Dimensions: 4.9 x 4.9 x 0.9 inches
In the box: Roku Ultra, Roku remote, high-speed HDMI cable, headphones
Smart assistant support: Amazon Alexa, Google Assistant
Meet the new Roku Ultra 2020: it looks a lot like the existing Roku Ultra, but offers performance gains for both speed of streaming and smoother video. It's also added a new visual standard to its repertoire as well.
And while most of the Roku Ultra 2020 changes are for the best, there's one small change to its port selection that is a step backwards. Still, it looks good enough to keep its spot on our best streaming devices list.
As its name suggests, the Roku Ultra is the best Roku device of them all. It's not just the fastest, it's also got the best remote, thanks to a headphone jack that allows for private listening.
This isn't the only new Roku device that's been revealed today. The company also announced the new Roku Streambar, a mid-range soundbar.
But for those looking for a new high-end streaming device, here's everything you need to know about the Roku Ultra 2020.
Roku Ultra 2020 release date, price and offers
Still $99.99, the Roku Ultra 2020 is available for pre-order today (Sept. 28) at Roku.com. It's expected to ship in October.
A three-month Apple TV Plus subscription is included for those who purchase and activate the Roku Ultra before Jan. 31, 2021. If you buy before Nov. 6, 2020 (and redeem before Nov. 8) you'll be eligible for a 3-month free trial of Pandora Premium. And the shortest free offer window, for those who activate before Oct. 4, 2020, gives you a 3- day free trial of Showtime, Starz and EPIX via The Roku Channel.
Roku Ultra 2020 design
While the Roku Ultra 2020 looks just like its predecessors, a squareish matte box with rounded edges a light on the front, the glossy indented Roku logo on the top and a small purple branded tag on the left.
It's also got the same measurements: 4.9 x 4.9 x 0.9 inches.
On the back, you most of the same ports as found in previous Roku Ultra boxes: power, Ethernet, HDMI and USB-A for external media. The MicroSD slot, however, is gone.
That's not great news, but it's not the end of the world either.
Roku Ultra 2020 features and performance
Roku says the quad-core processor in the new Ultra makes it the fastest of the company's streaming devices yet. But the Roku Ultra 2019 was already pretty fast, so that's not where upgraders may find the most value.
Redesigned internals allow the Roku Ultra to offer smoother streaming, with "up to 50% more range," for wireless connections. The Roku Ultra still works with Google Assistant and Alexa.
The Roku Ultra also adds Dolby Vision to the Dolby Atmos Audio you had in the Roku Ultra 2019, for improved color on top of its already immersive audio.
The Roku Ultra remote stays impressive, with its headphone jack for private listening, personalized shortcut buttons and TV controls for power and volume (the new $29 Amazon Fire TV Stick Lite ditches those buttons).
Roku OS 9.4 and The Roku Channel app
Roku's also rolling out a new update to its streaming devices. Roku OS 9.4, coming to "select Roku players," in the coming weeks, delivers support for Apple AirPlay 2 and HomeKit, so you can now send your Apple device screens and video to your Roku. You can also use HomeKit to control your Roku with the Home app, or via Siri on your Apple devices.
The Live TV Channel Guide will now be a tap away from the home screen, making it easier to find Roku's selection of more than 115 free live channels. This Roku update will also be giving users visual cues for how they control their Roku with spoken commands.
And those folks who have connected their Roku to Roku's audio products (including the Roku Wireless Subwoofer and Roku TV Wireless Speakers), and use them in a multi-channel configuration, will gain the option to adjust the rear surround sound independently, to make things more immersive.
Roku OS 9.4 is also added new theme packs, including Jungle, Western, Nautical and Kids, which will add sound effects when you press buttons on the Roku remote.
There's also the new Roku Channel app for iOS and Android. This app will bring the free streaming channels mentioned above to phones, and make it so that you don't even need a Roku device (just a Roku account) to watch that content.
Roku Ultra 2020 outlook
Existing Roku Ultra owners — especially those of more recent models — may not see a huge need to update. But those with larger houses, or those who think things should always get faster, will likely have their eye on how much better the Roku Ultra 2020 is.
We look forward to getting it in our hands for testing soon.