Tech Drivers
Tech Drivers

Roku just announced a $180 soundbar that also lets you stream video

Key Points
  • Roku introduced a soundbar on Wednesday that doubles as a Roku player.
  • Soundbars can drastically improve audio on TVs.
  • The Roku Smart Soundbar launches in Oct. and will cost $179.99.
Roku Smart Soundbar

Roku on Wednesday introduced the Smart Soundbar, which is a TV speaker that doubles as a full Roku player. That means the speaker can serve up the complete array of Roku apps to your TV without a requiring a separate box or input.

Soundbars are compelling for people whose TVs don't provide good audio. If you've ever sat around watching TV and noticed that it's hard to hear whispers but other parts of a TV or movie sound really loud, you might consider getting one.

Roku's Smart Soundbar packs four different drivers inside, which should be a big improvement over your TV's speakers, and includes "automatic volume leveling" which can do things like quiet loud commercials. "Night mode lowers the volume for louder scenes and boosts it for quieter ones," the company said in a release. "Speech Clarity boosts voice frequencies to address intelligibility for crisp, clear dialogue."

Inside, it includes support for Bluetooth, so you can stream music from a phone or tablet. And it runs Roku OS, which means you can stream Netflix, Hulu, HBO and thousands of other apps that are available on Roku. Other features include Dolby Audio, 4K HDR support, Google Assistant, Amazon Alexa and a Roku voice remote.

The Roku Smart Soundbar costs $179.99, which is similar in cost to budget soundbars that don't even include Roku support. It's expected to ship in October, and customers can also opt to buy a new Roku subwoofer to increase the bass for an additional $179.99.

Roku CEO Anthony Wood on tariffs and streaming
Roku CEO Anthony Wood on tariffs and streaming