Roku owners are in for a surprise. In the coming months, Roku will roll out an upgraded home screen experience with a new “Continue Watching” panel, a universal “Save List,” and something called “The Buzz.” Plus, customers can now pre-order a new Roku Express streamer and Roku Bass subwoofer.
What’s All the Buzz?
The upgraded Roku home screen arrives later this year with the Roku OS 11.5 update. It packs a bunch of new features, many of which are quite useful. But I expect that “The Buzz” will be a bit controversial.
According to Roku, “The Buzz” is a new content discovery service where streaming brands can post video clips, interviews, trailers, and other short-form media. Users can browse through “The Buzz” to see what’s going on in the world, or even follow brands to see their latest posts. (You can also “like” posts, which presumably feeds an algorithm to improve your “Buzz” timeline.)
Some people may enjoy “The Buzz.” It sounds like a direct-to-consumer PR service, and in theory, it could keep users up to date on new shows or movies. But because “The Buzz” is sectioned off into its own little home screen category, I wonder if people will actually use it.
Anyway, Roku is also adding a ton of highly-requested features to the home screen. A new “Continue Watching” menu pulls together all your recently watched shows, allowing you to quickly resume a show without opening and scrolling through a streaming service.
Roku is also adding a universal “Save List” to its arsenal. This is the Roku equivalent of Google TV’s universal watchlist. But it’s tucked away in Roku’s “What to Watch” menu, for better or worse.
Other improvements include a cleaner Roku Store, more detailed voice navigation, and categories within the Roku Live TV guide (news, kids, comedy, etc). Roku will also add a Live TV Guide button to the top of its mobile app remote.
A New Streamer and Subwoofer
The old Roku Express is starting to feel a bit dated. So, Roku is refreshing its affordable streaming stick with dual-band Wi-Fi and extra storage space. (Roku hasn’t clarified the amount of storage included in the new Express streaming stick—we’ll update this article when we figure it out.)
And those are the only upgrades. But hey, the upgraded Roku Express will retain its $30 price tag. Pre-orders are open now, and shipping starts October 16th.
And for those who want a smaller, more affordable subwoofer, Roku now sells the Wireless Bass. Pair it with a Roku Streambar, Roku Wireless Speakers, or Roku TV Wireless Soundbar to unlock a more cinematic audio experience.
The Wireless Bass, which should fit under your coffee table, costs just $130. That’s about $50 less than the standard Roku Wireless Subwoofer. Pre-orders are open today and ship on November 7th.