Roku is the most popular streaming platform in the U.S. and other markets because the interface is dead simple to use and the relatively low cost of hardware makes the platform accessible to people of every budget. With the Streambar, Roku now has the de facto option for those looking to up their streaming video and audio experience with a single device.
Everything You Need is in the Box
Before digging into the Roku Streambar, we should talk about why you would even want an all-in-one product. If you’ve upgraded your TV over the last couple of years, it’s likely to be relatively thin, have a 4K resolution display, and packed to the gills with features like HDR, Dolby Vision, and more.
But unless you paid extra for a bundle that included audio equipment, you’ve probably noticed that the built-in speakers are lackluster and possibly even muffled as they aren’t pointing out towards you while watching the television.
Enter the Roku Streambar. Plug the 14-inch side soundbar into the HDMI ARC port on your television and you’re good to go. With the one device, you get a Roku that can stream 4K HDR movies and TV shows and a soundbar with dual front-facing speakers and dual side speakers.
What’s even better is that you don’t need to worry about buying any extra cables or accessories to get started. You will find an HDMI cable and an optical cable in the box alongside the Streambar. The HDMI cable should be the only one needed as your TV’s ARC port handles video and audio, but the optical cable is provided just in case your television doesn’t support ARC or that port is taken up by a different device.
Unfortunately, like other new soundbars and sound systems, you won’t find any HDMI in ports on the back of Streambar. The lack of ports isn’t a big deal if the Streambar is the only device plugged into your television, but if you have other devices, you’ll have to rely on the rest of the HDMI slots on your TV and hope it properly distributes the audio signal to the soundbar.
Don’t Expect Roku Ultra Performance, But That’s Okay
It’s easy to compare the Roku Streambar with the updated Roku Ultra set-top box. Both devices are being released during the same time period and have similar price tags. But even though the Streambar costs $30 more, you’ll find less powerful internals and performance compared to the Ultra.
Roku doesn’t advertise exact processors in its streaming devices, but the company did tell me that the one in the Streambar is less powerful than the Ultra’s. Although I never ran into any performance issues or lag when opening apps, the Ultra can stream Dolby Vision and Dolby Atmos content. The Streambar, in comparison, is “limited” to Dolby Audio on top of 4K and HDR.
The controller that comes with the Streambar is Roku’s standard voice remote. Although still as capable as the Ultra’s, you can’t plug headphones into the remote and privately listen to what’s on your TV.
Being a soundbar, wanting a remote with a headphone jack might sound backward. If you are paying a premium for speakers, why would you want to use earbuds? Well, I found my guest bedroom and office to be ideal locations for the Streambar. In both rooms, there are times that I want to watch television without annoying or waking up my significant other.
You can always purchase the enhanced voice remote from Roku if you want the extra functionality.
The soundbar itself offers a solid listening experience. Dialog and music (both in the background of videos and while paired to a smartphone over Bluetooth) are clear and loud. While good for general entertainment, I wouldn’t rely on it by itself for an immersive experience.
If you’re looking to up the sound offered by the Streambar, you can pair the soundbar with Roku’s wireless speakers and subwoofer. Unfortunately, that would mean that your budget soundbar would turn into a ~$460 sound system.
The Best All-in-One Streaming Device
You want a streaming device that just works, whether that be a device from Roku, Google, or any number of other companies. The Streambar offers the best of any major streaming platform (unless you want to game) and adds speakers that sound on par with any budget-friendly soundbar.
Don’t expect to compare the Streambar to expensive speakers, but Roku did a fantastic job tuning the four speaks in the soundbar to provide a pleasant listening experience. Although it might not fill a large living room, the Streambar is more than sufficient for a bedroom or small media room.
The Roku Streambar is available for purchase today for $129.99 from Amazon, Best Buy, and Roku’s website. With the holidays coming up, this could be the perfect gift or stocking stuffer for anyone looking to improve their television’s sound system and streaming video quality.
Roku Streambar | 4K/HD/HDR Streaming Media Player & Premium Audio, All In One, Includes Roku Voice Remote
The Roku Streambar brings the most popular streaming service to your TV while vastly improving your audio experience.
Here’s What We Like
- All-in-one package
- Sound quality is much better than your TV
- Easy to set up and use
And What We Don't
- Doesn't come with an enhanced voice remote
- Good in every room, but best in small bedrooms