What number of soundbars on the market can stream Netflix? Not less than one, and it’s referred to as the Roku Streambar. Whereas loads of TVs and Blu-ray gamers come outfitted with working techniques to launch your favourite streaming providers, Roku has taken the plunge in creating a brand new sort of hybrid system.
The Roku Streambar’s 2-in1 performance is likely to be distinctive. However, is it wanted? Whereas I’ll focus on the professionals and cons of the Streambar right here, there may be undoubtedly a spot for this system. From its surprisingly strong sound to its rock-solid interface and extra, this tiny soundbar is the right improve for sure setups. It’s not a alternative for a full home-theatre or best for a bigger house, however smaller rooms like a bed room or a small lounge will discover this a superb addition, particularly contemplating how atrocious TV audio system usually are.
If in case you have an growing older soundbar, need to restrict the quantity of units in your setup, or solely have a TV and need to add to it, learn on to see if the Roku Streambar is the best funding for you.
Roku Streambar evaluate: worth and launch date
Certainly one of Roku’s strengths through the years has been the affordability of its merchandise. And, it’s no totally different with the Roku Streambar, which launched in October 2020 for $129.99/£129.99. Contemplate that the Roku Categorical 4k+ has the identical set-top field capabilities because the Streambar, and prices $39.99 (or the Roku Categorical 4k for £39.99). On high of that, a lot of the soundbars below $100 are very stripped-down affairs from price range TV producers. So, for the performance of each a set-top field and a soundbar it’s fairly a steal on the subject of worth.
It’s an excellent higher worth once you understand that Roku additionally makes wi-fi audio system ($149.99) and a wi-fi subwoofer ($179.99) that may pair with the Streambar for a extra well-rounded TV audio setup. Sadly, Roku doesn’t provide any bundles and the audio system and subwoofer should be bought individually. And, the wi-fi audio system and subwoofer don’t appear to be obtainable within the UK for the time being.
Roku Streambar Overview: Design and Options
The Roku Streambar is among the many smaller soundbars on the market, coming in at 2.4 x 14 x 4.2 inches (61 x 356 x 107 mm). It’s presumably the smallest that I’ve ever seen. And, whereas it shares the fundamental design of most soundbars, it appears to be like a tad totally different. As an alternative of the standard boxy rectangle form, the entrance edges are rounded to provide it slightly extra character.
In truth, it has an virtually space-age look to it. A contributing issue is that there aren’t any controls anyplace on the unit. It’s extremely minimalist, with simply the phrase Roku emblazoned on the grill. There’s an LED above that however is barely seen when the Streambar is on. And, the grill hides 4 1.9” drivers, two ahead dealing with, and two that angle outwards the place the Streambar rounds off.
All of the ports are lined up on the again. Sadly, it comes with the naked minimal, together with an optical, HDMI, and USB 2.0 together with the facility jack and a reset button, to not point out two mounting sockets. I’d have most well-liked a second HDMI port over the optical one.
Not less than, the one included HDMI port helps ARC, which it needs to be famous is a requirement for the TV the Streambar might be plugged into. Using an ARC-enabled HDMI considerably mitigates the shortage of HDMI ports since you may plug any additional peripherals, akin to gaming techniques, Blu-ray gamers, and the like into your TV, and the Roku Streambar will nonetheless operate as a soundbar. The USB port can be a pleasant addition for anybody that has a media server or laborious drive crammed with their very own content material. I used to be in a position to simply playback motion pictures off an previous laborious drive via the Roku Media Participant app.
The Roku Streambar additionally has Bluetooth connectivity. Contemplating that its place is more than likely going to be a bed room or small lounge, this extra function makes having a sensible speaker considerably redundant in the identical room. And, the sound might be no less than on par if not higher than most sensible audio system.
The distant that comes with the Roku Streambar might be very acquainted to anybody that’s owned a Roku earlier than. It’s an enchancment over older remotes since there’s an indentation beneath for the distant to relaxation on a finger or two, making it slightly extra ergonomic and simpler to carry. It additionally comes with a voice distant function that works as meant.
One of many coolest options of the Roku Streambar is one thing that doesn’t come within the field and that’s its means to broaden right into a fuller residence theatre expertise. Although you must purchase them individually, you will get a wi-fi subwoofer to get the total bass expertise and a pair of wi-fi audio system for a encompass sound setup. That modularity is one thing you usually see extra with higher-end residence theatre techniques, so it’s good to see the power so as to add to the Streambar as your price range or house permits.
Roku Streambar evaluate: efficiency
Establishing the Roku Streambar is a snap. Plug within the energy cable and join it through the ARC-enabled HDMI port on the TV, observe the prompts, and also you’ll be watching very quickly. With its 802.11ac dual-band, MIMO wi-fi connectivity, there gained’t be any connection points both.
The Roku software program is fairly simple, using a tile format with all of your apps listed by thumbnail that makes it very simple to navigate. The apps boot up and run with out problem, the sort of rock-solid efficiency that fairly just a few off-brand TV interfaces don’t present. You most likely have already got a sensible TV however attending to Disney+ or Hulu could be a chore, whether or not it’s as a result of the TV’s interface is laggy or as a result of the interface is unintuitive. The expertise with the Roku, fortunately, software program is streamlined and clean.
The software program on the Streambar contains some extra settings which can be usually not obtainable on Roku units – Sound Mode helps you to increase or minimize the bass, Quantity Mode compresses the sound so nothing’s too quiet or loud, and Speech Readability makes voices minimize via when you have hassle listening to them.
These settings all do as marketed, although I discovered the Sound Mode to be pretty delicate since there’s not a whole lot of low finish to start with. In the meantime, the Quantity Mode is efficient at conserving loud sounds from shocking you, or extra importantly, a sleeping roommate or partner when watching one thing at night time. Essentially the most helpful to most individuals, nonetheless, would be the Speech Readability function as it really works very properly. Dialogue in loads of exhibits could be laborious to listen to on 2.0 techniques, and this function does a terrific job of remedying that.
So far as the sound goes, it’s a huge enchancment over any set of audio system a TV may have. The Streambar, like most small soundbars, is a 2.0 stereo system, that means you’re simply listening to the left and proper audio. There’s no encompass sound or Dolby Atmos right here. Regardless of that, the sound itself is obvious and full.
The soundbar begins to lose readability once you flip the quantity up previous 60 or so (out of 100). Whereas the quantity of quantity obtainable on this little man is surprisingly loud, it doesn’t sound good at its higher limits. Nevertheless, in the event you use the soundbar in a smaller room, you most likely gained’t cross the 50 mark. You’ll have greater than sufficient quantity on faucet to listen to all the pieces clearly at decrease quantity settings.
So far as the sound frequency goes, the highs should not overly detailed, this isn’t an audiophile system in any case, however they’re nonetheless fairly good. Audio comes via clear and crisp sufficient to maintain most individuals completely satisfied. The mids are current in order that the audio sounds full regardless of coming from such a tiny system. The small stature of the soundbar impacts the bass essentially the most, although. There simply isn’t very a lot there. You gained’t really feel the rumble from explosions or action-packed scenes with the Roku Streambar. However, that’s to be anticipated with an audio system this diminutive.
The Streambar does a very good job with its sound separation, however its soundstage shouldn’t be very large. Although Roku has angled its outer audio system for a wider sound, its measurement means you’re restricted in how large the soundstage might be. There’s simply no substitute to having audio system spaced out to ship that immersive sound. With that stated, it is going to no less than be on par with no matter TV you’re connecting it to. And, to be used in a smaller setup the place this belongs, the smaller soundstage is way from a dealbreaker.
Roku Streambar Overview: Verdict
The Roku Streambar is a perfect alternative for smaller setups, whether or not you desire a minimalist setup in your bed room otherwise you’re working with a smaller lounge and have restricted house. It’s compact, very feature-rich, delivers respectable sound, and does all of that at a worth that rivals price range soundbars that come with out all these extra options.
Its tiny measurement is a combined blessing although. Most of its points stem from that measurement, whether or not it’s the shortage of bass, slim soundstage, or its restricted variety of ports. Fortunately, its modular functionality means you can add a subwoofer or wi-fi audio system to treatment no less than the sound-related points for a worth that also barely will get into the mid-range soundbar worth vary.
Roku Streambar evaluate: additionally contemplate
If the Roku Streambar sounds excellent to you, besides that it’s too small, then contemplate the Roku Streambar Professional, which matches for $179.99 (not presently obtainable within the UK). It comes with bigger drivers to pump out extra quantity, has a extra feature-filled distant, and doesn’t lose any of the options of the Roku Streambar, akin to the power so as to add these wi-fi audio system and subwoofer.
In the event you’re on the lookout for a feature-rich soundbar and don’t care in regards to the streaming interface – perhaps you have already got a Roku or Apple TV, for example – then the Polk Audio React ($249/£249) is the soundbar for you. It integrates seamlessly with Alexa so you can even use it as a sensible speaker. And, just like the Streambars, you may add wi-fi audio system and a subwoofer for a fuller expertise.