Roku has stuck firmly to making streaming boxes and the software that powers them, but the company has just announced an unexpected expansion into home audio. The Roku TV Wireless Speakers will ship later this year for $200, but Roku says they compare favorably to speakers that cost twice as much. However, you’ll need some very specific home theater equipment to test that out.
The Roku TV Wireless Speakers are a standard 2.0 system. So you just need to place the left and right channel speakers in a location of your choosing near the TV. You’ve got more freedom in placement because they don’t have to tie directly into the TV. Roku says the wireless aspect is to address consumer “frustrations” with wired speakers. I don’t usually think that plugging in two cables counts as frustrating, but I’m not most people. The speakers will, of course, still need to be plugged into power.
Roku’s TV operating system will guide users through the process of pairing their wireless speakers. Unlike other wireless speakers, Roku’s solution will integrate fully with the TV to synchronize the audio and video so there’s no lag. They will also be able to boost dialog volume and level out loud noises like commercials.
The Roku TV Wireless Speakers come with their own remotes that tie into the TV software, which may be an upgrade if you bought one of the less-expensive models. The standard remote works no matter which way it’s pointed, and includes a microphone for voice commands. There’s also a puck-shaped remote called Roku Touch. This is meant to sit on a table, offering quick access to playback controls and voice interaction. Both remotes are powered by AAA batteries.
Roku says the Roku TV Wireless Speakers will begin shipping in October this year. Pre-orders are available right now at $150 instead of the $200 retail price. The pre-order price goes up to $180 on July 24th.