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Roku OS 7 improves content discovery and mobile app; Roku 4 with 4K announced

Richard Easton
6 Oct 2015
Roku OS 7
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Roku has announced a Roku OS 7 update for its streaming boxes that will make it easier to follow content

In Roku's last operating system update that rolled out in May, it introduced much-needed search functionality to make finding content and channels infinitely easier. Alongside search, Roku Feed also made its first appearance. This allows you to subscribe to movies that are coming soon and gives you regular updates on availability and pricing. With its OS 7 update, this now expands to being able to follow TV shows, actors and directors as well. So now you'll know if your favourite director has a new release available on the multitude of channels available on Roku devices. Updates are served straight to the home screen, making it easy to know when new content becomes available.

Roku OS 7 mobile

The mobile Roku app is also seeing some love with a revamped interface that makes it easier to access the search, feed, remote control and Play on Roku functions. The same update notifications you get on your big screen will transfer to your little screen as well. Play on Roku will make it easier to display your photos on your television, too, handy for the next time you have family and friends over and want to go through your photo album. 

Finally, OS 7 will bring a 'Hotel and Dorm Connect' function, which will be good news for frequent travellers or students who bring their Roku devices with them. This will allow you to connect the Roku device to wireless networks that require a sign-in through a web browser.

You'll need to connect the Roku device to the password-protected network and then use the Roku Mobile App to then sign-in with the login credentials to get everything working. Previously, networks that required log-in credentials proved a hurdle for Roku streamers. You can expect to see Roku OS 7 hitting devices, including Roku's Streaming Stick and Roku 3, in mid-October.

Roku 4 (US Only for now)

Roku 4 and Remote

The heavily rumoured 4K Ultra HD-capable Roku has become a reality in the form of a new Roku 4. The bad news, for now, is that it has only been announced for the US. Chances are it'll make its way to other countries but there's no announcement just yet. Ultra HD televisions can't quite be considered affordable yet, so the wait might not be too irking.

The new Roku 4 has a much wider design than previous Roku boxes, so it's beginning to look a lot more like a traditional set-top box from days gone by. The Roku 4 remote is an amalgamation of the remote from the Roku 2 and Roku 3. The shortcut buttons from the Roku 2 are at the bottom of the remote, providing quick access to services such as Rdio and Netflix and the private listening headphone jack from the Roku 3 remote is included. Voice search is also included and there's also a new Remote Finder feature to make finding your lost remote easier.

An optical output has seen a welcome return and there is Ethernet and 802.11ac Wi-Fi for networking. The Roku 4 supports 4K streaming at 60fps. I checked with Roku whether its new box would support HDR and was told: “The Roku 4 does not currently support HDR video for 4K UHD. There is no industry standard yet for HDR, even from TV manufacturers, and certainly none for streaming. We believe it’s best to wait to see where the industry discussion goes before adding this support to our product.” 

US-streamers will be able to get content from Netflix, M-Go, Amazon Instant Video, Toon Goggles, Vudu and YouTube in glorious 4K resolution. A dedicated 4K UHD category will make it easier to find Ultra HD content in the Roku Channel Store. The Roku 4 is available to pre-order in the US for $129.99. Amazon also recently announced a new Fire TV with 4K streaming that is available in the UK, beating Roku to the punch.

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