Debuting only a week ago, Roku seems to have scored with its new Roku Voice Remote Pro, a $30 accessory that ditches the expensive alkaline AAAs in favor of Micro-USB charging port.
TheVerge headlined its review of the Roku Voice Remote Pro today as a “nice upgrade,” while TechHive tapped the gadget as a “fine upgrade for Roku’s cheaper streamers.” Next TV sibling publication Tom’s Guide, meanwhile, said the device “fixed” what is the “biggest problem” for Roku remotes, which is battery consumption.
And Rex Reed calls it … well, you get the point. We’re aggregating here!
Retailing for $20, Roku has had a non-rechargeable version of its voice remote on the market since September 2019—a product that has achieved an impressive 4.7 stars via nearly 24,000 Amazon customer reviews, for what that’s worth.
The new “pro” device works with all Roku-enabled smart TVs and sound bars, as well as Roku devices including Roku Express, Roku Express+, Roku Streaming Stick, Roku Streaming Stick+, Roku Ultra, Roku Ultra LT, Roku SE, Roku 2, Roku 3, Roku Premiere, Roku Premiere+ and Roku 4.
The tech press has been generally effusive about the rechargeable aspect—although there hasn’t been enough time to check Roku on its claim that a single charge lasts two months. And there is a bit of disappointment that the Roku Voice Remote Pro uses the older Micro-USB standard for charging vs. the newer USB-C.
There’s also pushback on the sponsored buttons, which plug Netflix, Disney Plus, Sling TV and Hulu. But there’s praise for two programmable buttons, labeled “1” and “2” that are programmable via voice commands.
The “mid-field” microphone configuration also works well, TheVerge said, with the reviewer able to comfortably illicit simple commands at up to 12 feet.
The reviewers also liked the headphone jack, which is positioned directly on the remote, although TheVerge does note that Amazon, Google and Apple enable Bluetooth headphones on their OTT devices.
The “always-listening” mics also drew praise for enabling an effective “find my remote” feature.
Overall, we get TechHive’s point—this could be particularly useful for owners of cheaper Roku hardware. The IR remote on our $180 Roku Smart Soundbar works terrifically—enough so that we hardly mind swapping out the batteries every 12 months or so.
But the Roku remote on our 55-inch 2018 TCL smart TV is barely functional—we often have to smack the plastic device on the coffee table to get it to work. And it it still has a sponsored button for DirecTV Now, a since rebranded service that AT&T is in the process of phasing out.
A $30 investment here could improve that user experience.
Daniel Frankel is the managing editor of Next TV, an internet publishing vertical focused on the business of video streaming. A Los Angeles-based writer and editor who has covered the media and technology industries for more than two decades, Daniel has worked on staff for publications including E! Online, Electronic Media, Mediaweek, Variety, paidContent and GigaOm. You can start living a healthier life with greater wealth and prosperity by following Daniel on Twitter today!
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