Roku has rebranded its existingas the Streambar Pro for the same $180 price, but it now includes an upgraded . The Streambar Pro is a hybrid device: a 4K HDR streamer, similar to the , built into a soundbar. The improved remote comes with Roku headphones for private listening, one of our favorite features that automatically mutes the speaker when you want to use headphones. The other enhancement is a new virtual surround feature which the company says "creates spacious sound that moves around the room for an enhanced audio experience."
The soundbar itself is identical to the original Smart Soundbar, according to Roku. It features the same four-driver speaker array, Bluetooth capability andinput. It also offers and capability for music streaming.
I liked the original when I reviewed it a year ago, but the cheaper, smaller $130is a better value for most people. The addition of these new features makes the $50 upsell seem only a tiny bit more reasonable on paper, so that virtual surround had better rock!
Owners of the existing Smart Soundbar will get an automatic upgrade with the forthcoming Roku OS 10 that adds virtual surround, but will need to buy the remote separately -- or get the even better, new Roku Voice Remote Pro.
The Roku Streambar Pro will be available on Roku.com at the end of May and at major retailers in June, following the release of the new($40). Look for my review then.