Hate dead batteries? Are you always losing your remote control? Roku solves these two annoying remote-control problems with its new Voice Remote Pro ($29.99), which is compatible with Roku TVs, audio devices, and select streaming players (2017 and forward).
Responding to ecological concerns about single-use batteries, the Voice Remote Pro is the first Roku remote with a rechargeable Lithium-Ion battery. The sealed-in battery lasts for two months of average use after a single 2-to-3-hour charge with a standard microUSB cable charger. And if you let the battery run out, you can use the remote while charging.
The Voice Remote Pro’s other major upgrade is hands-free, voice-activated operation up to 12 feet away, thanks to the inclusion of a sensitive mid-field microphone. Just by saying “Hey Roku” and a command, users can run basic operations (like volume up/down) on Roku TVs, compatible Roku streaming boxes, and Roku powered speakers. Even better, you can say, “Hey Roku, where’s my remote?” and the remote will start pinging. (Tapping the find-me tab on the free Roku mobile app for iOS and Android likewise triggers the device to start chiming.)
With the Roku OS 10 rolling out, you’ll be able to use your voice to continue playing the last program you were watching at the point where you paused the program. At the outset, this Instant Resume feature will be compatible with more than 15 streaming services, including AT&T TV, FilmRise, FOX Business Network, Fox News Channel, Fubo Sports Network, HappyKids TV, Plex.tv, Starz, and The Roku Channel. Not the greatest list but there’s “more to come...soon,” hinted the Roku rep.
Roku OS 10 will roll out to all Roku TV models and audio players as well as these Roku streaming players: 9102X, 9101X, 9100X, 4800X, 4670X, 4662X, 4661X, 4660X, 4640X, 4630X, 4622X, 4620X, 4400X, 4230X, 4210X, 4200X, 3941X, 3940X,3931X, 3930X, 3921X, 3920X, 3910X, 3900X, 3821X, 3820X, 3811X, 3810X, 3800X, 3710X, 3700X, 3600X, 3500X, 2720X, 2710X, and 2700X.
You don’t have to use your voice if you don’t want to. You can slide a physical switch to turn off hands-free voice activation and use push-to-talk voice control. Plus, there are conventional buttons for powering on your TV, adjusting the volume, and muting.
The Voice Remote Pro includes a private-listening 3.5mm headphone jack as well. Plugging in the headphones of your choice (sold separately) puts the stereo soundtrack in your ears only, muting the TV’s sound. Keep in mind that using the remote’s onboard headphone jack depletes the battery pretty quickly. We’re now talking hours of use, not months. But you won’t have to discard these depleted batteries; just recharge them.
Dedicated buttons on the Roku Voice Remote Pro take you instantly to Netflix, Disney+, Apple TV+, and Hulu. But what if you have a couple of other sites you visit just as often or more so? The Voice Remote Pro solves that concern with two extra, programmable buttons you can customize by just vocalizing a request like “Roku, launch PBS (or Peacock … or Pandora)” while holding down a button marked with a numerical “1” or “2.”
The Roku Voice Remote Pro is available for $29.99 on Roku today and will be coming to other major retailers in May.
[Image credit: Roku]
Jonathan Takiff is a seasoned chronicler of consumer electronics (30+ years), longtime staffer for Philadelphia newspapers, syndicated columnist and magazine/website contributor.