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Roku begins selling Pro Series TVs, announces new features

New features for existing TVs were also unveiled, as was a newer generation Pro Remote control.

New features for existing TVs were also unveiled, as was a newer generation Pro Remote control.

A promotional image for the Roku Pro Series smart TV set. (Courtesy photo)
A promotional image for the Roku Pro Series smart TV set. (Courtesy photo)

Three months after announcing a new line-up of premium smart television sets, fans of Roku’s operating system can finally buy one from a physical or online store like Best Buy, Amazon and Walmart.

On Wednesday, Roku said its Roku Pro Series television sets will come in a handful of sizes ranging from 55 inches to 75 inches, with a starting price of $900. A mounting kit that allows the slim TVs to be hung from a conventional wall will be sold separately for $100, the company affirmed.

The Roku Pro Series offers a mini-LED screen for better color, contrast and clarity, as well as a new artificial intelligence-powered feature called Roku Smart Picture that will automatically adjust the picture settings depending on the content watched and other factors.

Roku fans won’t have to buy a new TV to experience Roku Smart Picture for themselves: This week, the company said the feature is coming to all Roku TVs through a software update in the next few weeks. All Roku smart TVs sold this year will have the feature enabled by default, while those with existing Roku TVs will need to enable the setting once the software update is deployed.

The newest version of the Roku operating system will come with a number of other enhancements, including better universal search, a new navigation bar and a menu that offers the most-searched TV shows and movies across services.

Roku will also incorporate ratings from Amazon’s IMDb service across different entertainment-driven pages on Roku devices, and a new feature called Backdrops will finally allow Roku users to customize their screens with their own photos.

“We want our platform to be relevant to how you watch TV, whether you purchased a device today or years ago,” Preston Smalley, the Vice President of Viewer Product at Roku, said in a statement. “With personalized Backdrops to suit your mood, Smart Picture for crystal-clear visuals, and better ways to help decide what to watch, we’re setting a new standard for streaming excellence. This is the future of TV, tailored just for you by Roku.”

TVs aside, Roku also introduced a new pro version of its rechargeable remote control, which includes a dedicated “Guide” button connected to the live TV service found within its free, ad-supported streaming platform called the Roku Channel.

The second generation Pro Remote also includes motion-activated backlit keys that illuminate when the device detects someone has picked it up, along with a rocket ship shortcut button that launches a specific app or service when it is pressed.

The new Roku Pro Remote ditches the micro USB connection found on the previous generation of the remote in favor of USB-C, which is quickly becoming the default standard for premium-level smartphones, tablets and computers. Roku says the second-generation Pro Remote offer 50 percent better battery life compared to the first generation, and it is compatible with the same TVs and Roku devices.

Beyond the new features, the second-generation Roku Pro remote has the same functions as the prior generation remote, including hands-free voice-powered navigation and universal volume and power controls. The second-generation Roku Voice Pro remote is available to buy from Roku directly for $30.

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About the Author:

Matthew Keys

Matthew Keys is a nationally-recognized, award-winning journalist who has covered the business of media, technology, radio and television for more than 10 years. He is the publisher of The Desk and contributes to Know Techie, Digital Content Next and StreamTV Insider. He previously worked for Thomson Reuters, the Walt Disney Company, McNaughton Newspapers and Tribune Broadcasting.
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