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Roku unveils $70 Streaming Stick+ with 4K & HDR, faster Express & Express+ models

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Roku on Monday announced a new lineup of video streaming devices and software, led the by Streaming Stick+, an upgraded version of its portable player with support for 4K resolution and high dynamic range (HDR).

The $69.99 product is also said to have four times the wireless range of its predecessor, and come with a voice-enabled remote, supporting voice search previously reserved for devices like the Roku Ultra. A new operating system — Roku OS 8 — improves natural language comprehension, while adding other things like the integration of live TV programming into search results, and single sign-on support for paid TV subscriptions, something Apple pioneered with iOS 10 and tvOS 10 last year.

The Express ($29.99) and Express+ ($39.99) continue to lack 4K and HDR, but have been given new processors five times faster than before. The two products are essentially identical except that the Express+ is a Walmart exclusive supporting TVs with composite inputs.

The Roku Express.

Also still on the market are a regular Streaming Stick ($49.99) and the top-end Ultra. The former now includes a voice-enabled remote, while the Ultra is essentially unchanged, aside from a dedicated power button on its remote and a permanent price cut to $99.99.

All of the upgraded players are slated to ship Oct. 8. The Roku OS 8 update will be a free download for compatible devices, including Roku TVs, but roll out gradually throughout October and November.

Roku's lineup could create problems for the Apple TV 4K, which shipped Sept. 22. While Apple's set-top is more powerful and sports features like Siri, Dolby Vision, and more elaborate apps, it also starts at $179, well above even the Ultra. The Streaming Stick+ may be more directly aimed at Amazon's new Fire TV, though, which shares similar specifications.