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How to upgrade your Roku TV remote for just $20

Roku's $20 voice remote can work with pretty much any Roku TV.

06-roku-enhanced-remote

Roku's Enhanced remote (left) has voice search capability and can be aimed anywhere, two features the standard remote (right) is missing.

Sarah Tew/CNET

Roku televisions are incredibly popular and among CNET's favorites for their built-in streaming features, not to mention low prices. The TCL 3 series and 4 series are excellent choices for people who want easy access to Netflix, Amazon Prime and other apps, while the TCL 6 series has excellent image quality and remains our favorite TV for the money, period.

Most Roku TVs, including every model in the 3 and 4 series, come with basic remotes. They're fine, but Roku's voice remote is definitely better. First off it relies on wireless instead of old-school infrared signals, so you can point it anywhere instead of having to aim at the TV. It also has a mic button that summons Roku's voice system. Speak into the mic and you can perform searches for TV shows, movies and actors, launch apps and more.

Let's say you bought a Roku TV with the basic remote -- for example, the version of the 6 series sold at Best Buy -- and now you want to upgrade. Good news: Roku sells a voice remote for $20 and it works with pretty much any Roku TV, allowing you to add voice and point anywhere goodness. 

To see if it worked I grabbed a few different Roku remotes, including one from a 2018 Roku Ultra and one from a 2018 Premiere Plus, and paired them with a 2017 55-inch Roku P605 bought from Best Buy that came with the basic remote. Making the change was extremely easy. Here's how.

  • Power on the Roku TV
  • Using your old IR remote, or the Roku app on your phone, head to Settings
  • Scroll to Remotes
  • Click add a new remote
  • On your new enhanced remote, insert batteries and hold down the button toward the bottom of the battery compartment for five seconds
  • The TV and remote will pair
  • You're done! 

The process works the same for both the Ultra remote that has a headphone jack on the remote and the Premiere+ remote that has voice control but no headphone jack. Both remotes were able to control volume and utilize voice commands without issues. 

It was a simple upgrade, but Roku's web site makes it seem more complicated. The site indicates that the $20 voice remote replacement, the one on the accessories page, works with the company's streaming devices but not TVs. Meanwhile it sells a replacement remote for Roku TVs for $30. The only noticeable difference between the two is a "mute" button on the TV remote compared to the voice remote (voice control still works for muting the television, by the way). 

Roku confirmed to CNET that the regular Voice remote (the $20 one) can be used on "most televisions," though the company recommends TV owners use the $30 TV remote that adds the mute button. Roku says some older TVs may not support private listening, where audio is streamed to the remote's headphone jack. That feature is available on the $30 Enhanced remote found on the streamers page.

In the end, a simple way to improve your Roku TV is just $20 away. Or $30 if you want a mute button.