When Roku announced a handful of new streaming products on Tuesday, one of the gadgets that earned the most attention was the Roku Express 4K Plus, a new TV box that is one of the cheapest ways to access ultra-high definition streaming video content.
But it isn’t the cheapest 4K-capable streaming box: That distinction belongs to the Roku Express 4K, which was quietly announced by Roku alongside its bigger sibling, although to less fanfare.
When it debuts next month, the Roku Express 4K will be the absolute cheapest way to access ultra-high definition television and movies from apps (which Roku calls “channels”) that support it.
The Roku Express 4K is an upgraded version of the Roku Express, a bare-bones, no-frills streaming device that connects users with Roku’s easy-to-use smart TV operating system, with access to thousands of channels in the Roku Channel Store.
Out of the box, the Roku Express 4K comes with everything a person needs to get going, including a pair of AAA batteries for the remote, a USB power cable and wall brick, an adhesive strip for mounting the device to the front or side of a TV set and a premium HDMI cable (the device does not include support for older composite or component inputs).
The biggest difference between the Roku Express 4K and the Roku Express 4K Plus is in the remote: The upgraded Plus model comes with a voice-capable remote that allows users to search for movies and perform other actions by using simple voice commands.
The cheaper Roku Express 4K comes with a basic remote, Roku says, which doesn’t offer a microphone for voice commands. Thankfully, it will still work with Roku’s standalone app for smartphones and tablets (the app contains a button that allows users to send voice commands to their device), and it will even work with the new ultra-premium Roku Voice Remote Pro, which features a rechargeable battery — a first for a Roku gadget.
The device, which is still pending approval from the Federal Communications Commission, is expected to go on sale for $35 next month and will be exclusive to Walmart. Customers can pre-order the device right now on Walmart’s website. The Roku Express 4K will also be offered at yet-to-be-announced retailers in Canada and Mexico, the company says.
The bigger sibling Roku Express 4K Plus is available on Roku’s website and at other retailers for $5 more. That version will start hitting store shelves in mid-May.