Roku launches Streambar to bring a smarter soundbar to Canada

This device is both a Roku streaming device and a soundbar

Roku is looking to bring more value to soundbars with a new product called the Streambar. It’s a two-in-one 4K streaming device that’s aimed at improving the experience of lower-end TVs.

The company says that over the years, TV speakers have gotten thinner and that as a result, the speakers within them have become worse. In an effort to help solve this problem affordably, the company is releasing a $189 smart soundbar.

Packed inside this remarkably small soundbar are four 1.9-inch drivers that support basic Dolby Audio, but nothing fancy like Atmos. Still, for just under $200, that’s expected. To help compensate for this limitation, Roku says it’s using software to help increase the sound of the speaker while adding clarity to voices in shows and depth to music playback.

Beyond that, Roku says the Streambar also features a night mode for quiet listening and that it can automatically lower the volume of loud commercials.

Something that might make this a lot more interesting to people is that the Streambar supports Apple’s AirPlay 2 standard, HomeKit, Spotify Connect and Bluetooth. This means that regardless of how you want to connect to the Streambar, you’ll have several popular streaming options. That said, AirPlay and Homekit are coming as updates later this year.

On the video side of things, the soundbar can stream 4K HDR10 content. While this isn’t the top of the line version of HDR, I think it makes sense considering the TV models that this device targets.

It’s clear more expensive TVs that support Dolby Vision and HDR10+ are not the intended market for this $189 soundbar. It makes more sense to add this speaker to cheaper 4K sets from brands like Insignia, Hisense and RCA. Since these ultra-cheap TVs often don’t come with smart features or good speakers, the Roku Streambar is the perfect upgrade.

The Streambar can connect to a TV with an optical audio cable as well as with HDMI, but you can’t use it as a streaming device if you use the audio-only cable. Other notable features include a USB port that can play media from a USB stick and mounting holes so it can be wall-mounted.

This isn’t the first smart soundbar to make it to Canada. Last year, JBL brought the Link Bar to Canada, which is very similar to Roku’s Streambar and acts as a Google Assistant-enabled smart speaker that runs Android TV instead of RokuOS. However, this device was aimed at the mid-range soundbar market.

This tiny soundbar looks super appealing and should come out near the end of October, according to Roku. MobileSyrup will be going hands-on with the Streambar later this fall as well.