Roku Streambar 4K/HD/HDR Streaming Media Player with Premium Audio, All In One Soundbar and Streaming Media Player, Includes Roku Voice Remote. Works with any TV that has an HDMI port. Release date: October 15, 2020. Price: $119
- Space-saving 2-in-1 media streamer soundbar combination
- Easy to set up and use; familiar Roku media interface
- Media streamer includes some of Roku’s latest bells and whistles, like 4K/HDR and Bluetooth connectivity
- Brings older TVs into the modern age, with media streaming and improved audio performance
- Affordable price ($119)
- Suitable only for small rooms or apartments
- WiFi only; no ethernet port
When it comes to home theater, I like it simple, and I like it affordable.
Let’s face it. Setting up a home theater can be complicated. Which components should I choose? How do I configure them? Do I have the right wires to connect everything together?
I’ll confess. When I ended up recommending the Roku Streambar 4K HDR Streaming Media Player Soundbar for a family with a small condo, the goal wasn’t to assemble a complicated system. I wasn’t looking for an all-immersive, cost-no-object home theater. I wasn’t even looking for a cheap home theater with a receiver and a bunch of speakers. I wasn’t even looking for something with a subwoofer. What? No subwoofer? (Gasp!)
Perhaps you’ve had a similar experience. Maybe you have a small room where there’s a TV set up — smaller as in, really no room for a 7-speaker surround setup, let alone a 5-speaker setup.
Soundbars have helped simplify home theater. Do they sound fantastic? Well, by and large, no, they don’t. (I have come across some exceptions, one of them being the Focal Dimension Soundbar Subwoofer Package I reviewed a few years back.) But soundbars do serve a purpose. They tend to be small, and they do tend to sound better than your TV’s built-in speakers.
But the folks at Roku, the well-known maker of those tiny little affordable media streaming boxes, have upped the ante. They’ve added a soundbar in the streaming media box. Or rather, they’ve added a streaming media box to a soundbar. Brilliant.
It works great, and it looks good too. Actually, at just 14″ wide, it’s so small that it almost disappears. And the great part? It’s two devices in one – no need for separate soundbar and media streaming box. Out with the clutter!
How does it work? Well, if you know your way around a Roku, you’ll feel right at home here. If you’re new to Roku, you’ll find your way in a snap. There’s a simple icon-driven menu, with a bunch of apps pre-loaded. Your favorite app isn’t already loaded? No problem. Search and download are easy.
I was surprised how snappy and rich this little thing sounds. Heavens – it’s not much bigger than a value-sized box of my favorite protein bars. How the engineers at Roku managed to get so much sound from four tiny little speakers is a thing of wonder. I especially like how it sounds at lower volumes. I suspect the device is running some type of sound shaping that boosts certain frequencies when the system is running at lower volumes. Like the idea, but not totally happy with the sound? Add Roku Wireless Speakers ($149) and Roku Wireless Subwoofer ($179) for a more immersive experience.
Roku Streambar vs. Ultra
The most obvious difference between the Roku Ultra and Streambar is that the Streambar is not only a Roku media streamer but also a fully-functioning and expandable soundbar. They’re both capable of streaming 4K and HDR. They both support WiFi connection; the Ultra adds the option to connect via ethernet. They both include a voice remote with four app shortcuts; the Ultra’s remote adds a headphone jack for private listening. They both supporting streaming from your mobile device via Bluetooth. Roku Ultra supports Dolby Vision and Dolby Atmos, whereas Streambar does not.
Roku Streambar vs. Smart Soundbar
Roku promotes the Smart Soundbar as being suited for “big rooms and large TVs.” It, too, is expandable via Roku’s wireless speakers and subwoofer. On paper, the media streaming functions look very comparable. The Streambar supports the newer and much more robust Bluetooth 5.0, whereas the Smart Soundbar supports Bluetooth 4.2.
The Streambar’s only real competition is the Roku Smart Soundbar, which costs $60 more. The JBL Link Bar, a soundbar that incorporated Android TV, has been discontinued.
The Streambar works with the Roku App, which you can download for free.
The Streambar works with the Roku App, which you can download for free. It enables you to connect your mobile device and the Streambar via your Wifi network. The app provides all the functionality of the hand-held remote (shopped in the box), in addition to shortcuts to recent channels. Unlike the Ultra’s remote. the Streambar’s remote doesn’t offer a headphone jack. However, if you’re using the Roku app, simply plug your headphones or earbuds into your mobile device, and the Streambar will automatically mute its internal speakers and route the sound to your headphones.
There’s a lot to like. At just $20 more than Roku’s high-end media streamer (Roku Ultra), you get a functioning Roku plus a soundbar in one box. If you have a very small room, or an apartment with thin walls, this may be a good choice on a budget. But it is missing a few features the Roku Ultra has, like a headphone jack on the remote. And if you’re used to bigger sound from a larger soundbar, you may not be happy. In this case, you may want to check out the Streambar’s optional wireless speaker and wireless subwoofer packages, or start with the Roku Smart Soundbar.
- Dimensions: 14″ x 4.2″ x 2.4″
- Power: 2 AAA batteries (included) for the remote, AC wall adapter included for the Streambar
- Connections: WiFi, Bluetooth, USB, HDMI
- Price: $119
— DK, January 2021
Related: 10 Best Budget Soundbars