Turning on the Roku Premiere+ for the first time feels a lot like coming home. There have been a few small improvements around the house as you last seen — this new Roku version supports 4K and HDR, as an instance, the main technical qualifications for a brand new streaming player in 2017. And the remote is subtly different as well, it’s matte black with rubber buttons instead of the old glossy plastic.
The same user interface the exact same channel store with programs like Netflix and HBO Go, the exact same sound effects. It’s just as easy to set up and use as you remember, and it only works. The interface is never laggy, and it’s possible to stream 4K video now as readily as 1080p.
It is all good. It’s just, well, a bit too familiar. A little bit stale. In contrast to a buddy’s renovated modern apartment, it just does not feel quite as shiny and elegant as you want it to.
Hands on: 4K TCL Roku TV Review, comfortable and solid. But glamorous? No, certainly not.
Design and content
The plan of the streaming box is timeless Roku: a tiny black hockey puck, easily fitting into (and disappearing inside) any entertainment center.
It’s ditched the A and B buttons on the bottom of the remote as the Roku 3 But is otherwise little changed. (The headphone jack to get a personal audio flow is still there, nonetheless, and a great feature if you watch TV while others are sleeping)
The content readily available to you, too, is plenty familiar. All of the big names are here: Netflix, Amazon, Hulu, HBO and Youtube and Crunchyroll, Plex and Pandora and Spotify. It is possible to rent and purchase separate movies and TV through Vudu and Fandango, the latter of which will be the de facto rental service around the streamer.
Roku isn’t the place to go for exclusive content, but the good news is that it supports practically everything, such as playing your own video files onto a microSD card via the Roku Media Player. Same old reliable Roku.
We can’t help but find the Roku’s interface — particularly in a number of its older programs — disappointingly rancid, especially when compared to some more design-centric streamer like the 2015 Apple TV.
The design vocabulary of modern Apple TV apps is brilliant and elegant, a fountain pen to Roku’s crayon. The Apple TV’s default screensaver cycles through magnificent drone footage of cities such as San Francisco and London. Roku’s is a primitive 2D cityscape, with advertisements scrolling across the foreground. For $100 (about #80, AU$130), nobody should have to look at advertisements on their screensaver or house screen.
We are not saying the Apple TV is perfect, by any way. It had some issues when it first introduced, and its remote is still confusing to utilize. However, its program shop has flourished, the interface is beautiful, and programs for new streaming services such as FilmStruck premiere around the Apple TV prior to making their way to Roku. In terms of design, it’s leagues ahead of the Roku. But the present model can’t flow in 4K or HDR, the main selling points of the Premiere+.
Roku’s universal lookup feature remains a superbly powerful way to locate content. Look for an actor or director or title, and when any streaming service in Roku’s indicator has everything you’re looking for, boom: renting, purchasing or viewing is a click away. If you know everything you’re looking for and need to utilize the Roku as a rental box, or even have subscriptions into a load of streaming libraries, you’ll have the ability to locate all but the most obscure films.
That said Search also does not extend into all programs; it can’t search Plex, as an instance, because it pulls out of an internet indicator, not the content specifically visible to your device.
Ultimately, if you would rather browse for something to observe, you may find that the Premiere+’s interface and limited theme choices (essentially only a background image) quite unsatisfactory.
After utilizing the Roku Premiere+ for fourteen days to see Netflix, Amazon Originals in 4K HDR, browse our own Plex library, and poke round the channel store, we don’t have a single complaint about reliability or performance.
It has done a much better job streaming high bitrate 1080p video from our local Plex server and from Netflix than our PlayStation 4 and Samsung Smart TV, which might often stutter or buffer regularly, even over Ethernet with a fast connection. 4K streaming works just as well over a wired connection, also. Though, that said, on wireless, you’ll need to make sure you have a strong signal from the router to keep up with the demands of 4K.
A quick look in the specs should put your mind at ease when it comes to functionality:
* Quad-core chip
* Video output up to 1080p/60 fps or even 4K/30 fps more than HDMI 2.0per year
* HDR10 support
* Decision 802.11ac wireless, 10/100 Ethernet port
Concerning performance, the Premiere+ is the middle child of Roku’s 2016 line-up. Roku’s slightly cheaper Premiere model lacks HDR support, which makes the Premiere+ the ideal choice for pairing with a new 4K HDR TV. The top-end model, the Roku Ultra, includes a couple of luxuries: the remote supports voice hunt, and the streaming participant consists of optical sound and USB interfaces for connecting to more devices. In our time together with the Premiere+ , we have not felt the lack of some of them. The Roku detected our 5.1 sound system during setup, and correctly fed surround sound to the TV, which passed it along to our soundbar no problem.
Getting 4K HDR movie to operate on our Samsung KS8000 TV turned out to be easy, once we have our hands on some suitable HDR content. Roku’s YouTube app apparently would not play videos in HDR (or even so the TV would not recognize them, but Amazon’s Original TV shows triggered the TV’s HDR mode, which automatically moves the backlight to max and shows that a smoother, wider selection of colour.
It may take a few seconds for the Roku and the TV to communicate that HDR video is playing, and twice we have an HDCP mistake when that connection required slightly too long. But just backing from the menu and attempting to perform the same video solved the only problem we experienced with the Roku.
The Nvidia Shield costs twice as far, and also the cheaper Chromecast Ultra lacks a built-in interface and distant, two things that make the Roku Premiere+ a cinch to use.
It is going to surely get the business finished.
There is not heaps of 4K HDR content available right now, but the Roku Premiere+ plays it like a champ. Navigation is fast and performance is rock solid. Virtually all the programs you need are here for a massive library of streaming content.
When all’s said and done, the Roku Premiere+ is a great piece of hardware for the price. But concerning software, Roku is lagging somewhat behind.
Roku’s interface has not evolved since I last used it in early 2015. Some often updated programs such as Netflix and Amazon seem nearly as nice as their Apple TV counterparts, but others are awful and barebones, stuck using simplistic thumbnail navigation that hasn’t actually changed since 2012. The Premiere+ is currently the best combination of features and price to get a 4K HDR streaming participant, but its interface could use a refresh to grab up to the Apple TV.
If you already have a streaming player that’s serving you just fine, there is simply no need to update to the Premiere+. This participant is specifically for anyone who needs a brand new 4K, HDR-ready device to get the most out of a 4K TV. Thinking about the power and performance of this small $100 (roughly #80, AU$130) device, there’s no better choice … at least until Apple upgrades the Apple TV with 4K HDR support.
It will not let you down, but it probably won’t blow off your mind, either.