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Roku Remote: This $ 20 upgrade makes quarantine streaming so much better



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Give your old Roku a new life with a voice remote control.


Sarah Tew / CNET

Roku & # 39; s Boxes & Sticks are some of the most popular streaming players out there. With a selection of channels and apps that include virtually all major services a simple interface and an affordable price range, they have long been a CNET favorite.

Since people hang around at home because of the coronavirus pandemic streamed more TV than ever, looking for ways to improve things around the house, has become part of the routine. If you own a standard Roku player or Roku TV you can do that quickly and easily by upgrading to Roku's improved remote control.

With an improved remote starting at just $ 20, your Roku can begin to take advantage of newer features like voice control, private listening via the headphone jack and, my favorite, the ability to work without going directly to the Roku TV box or streaming stick. Here's how you can do it.

Knowku the remoteku

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The improved Roku remote, on the left, provides a few important additional features over the company's "simple" option , right.


Sarah Tew / CNET

First, let's break down Roku's three different remotes.

Simple Remote Control : This controller comes with older Rokus, cheaper streaming sticks like the Express and Premiere and cheaper or older Roku TV & # 39 s. By default, it uses infrared, also known as IR, to send commands to the Roku, so it won't work if you don't aim it directly at your Roku or if something gets in your way. This remote also lacks a microphone, so if your Roku remote doesn't have a microphone button, it's a simple version.

Voice Remote Control : This remote, available on Roku & # 39; s site for $ 20 has three upgrades:

  • does not rely on IR, so you can "point anywhere" control your Roku
  • A built-in microphone so you can search and execute commands with your voice
  • Power and volume keys to control your TV, so you don't have to use your TV's original remote control

Note that the latter item only applies to streaming players; all Roku TV remotes (simple and otherwise) have volume and power controls.

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The improved Roku speech remote control has customizable shortcuts labeled 1 and 2.


Sarah Tew / CNET

Enhanced Voice Remote Control : This remote, available at Roku & # 39; s site for $ 30 has all the features of the voice remote control above and three more: [19659015] A headphone jack that allows you to listen privately with your own headphones without disturbing others

  • Two hot keys that can be customized to open apps and perform other functions
  • A small speaker that allows it to transmit sound so that it can can be used the Remote Finder feature in the Roku app
  • Roku also sells a "gaming remote" on its site, but since it is basically identical to the enhanced voice remote (without the customizable shortcuts) it also costs $ 30 and is largely useless because Roku devices don't support many games. We're ignoring it, but if Roku's enhanced voice remote is sold out and you don't want to wait, it can take the place of offering most of the same functionality, including private listening and voice search.

    Add a new remote to an old Roku or Roku TV

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    pressing a button below the battery slot, your Roku can be paired with a remote control.


    Sarah Tew / CNET

    One of the best aspects of Roku is the compatibility between different devices – you get pretty much the same simple experience whether your Roku is a few years old or completely new. This compatibility also extends the remote controls. The new remotes mentioned above will probably also work on your old Roku even if it is no longer listed as a compatible device on Roku's own site.

    For our tests, I used a few different remotes and a few Rokus. To represent older Rokus, I dusted a Roku 2 ($ 149 at Walmart) that was originally announced in 2015 and came with a simple remote. I was able to pair it with a new improved voice remote control and the process was as easy as on newer devices.

    Here's how:

    1 . Turn on the Roku and the TV.

    2 . With your old IR remote control or the Roku app on your phone, go to Settings .

    3 . Scroll to remote controls .

    4 . Click on Add a new remote control .

    5 . On your new improved remote, insert batteries and hold the button towards the bottom of the battery compartment for five seconds.

    The TV and remote control are then paired.

    Although the Roku 2 is almost five years old, the remote control was still able to use all newer features, including voice searches, shortcuts and headphones listening. It was also able to turn on and control the volume on the Samsung TV it was connected to.

    I previously did a similar test where I paired a 2018 Roku Ultra enhanced remote control with my 2017 TCL P605 Roku TV and had the same success.

    Add a new remote control to a new, cheaper Roku or Roku TV

    Most new Rokus ships with a voice remote control but the company's cheapest options, the Express and Premiere, trust still on the weaker remote. Some newer Rokus, such as our Editors' Choice, opt for the Streaming Stick Plus ($ 60 at Walmart) that come with the voice remote, but not the enhanced voice remote with the private listening feature. the headphones.

    Fortunately, upgrading to either remote is simple and the same as older Rokus. Just follow the steps above and you can add a new remote to your existing Roku.

    Which updated remote should I buy?

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    For those not interested in private listening, the regular enhanced remote is a quick upgrade from $ 20.


    Sarah Tew / CNET

    If you're frustrated because you have to constantly point your remote directly at the TV – and don't give much for private listening – the $ 20 basic voice remote is a quick, easy, and relatively inexpensive upgrade.

    Those who want the ability to watch TV on their own headphones without disturbing others will be worth the additional $ 10 with the enhanced voice remote control. Yes, any Roku device can use the Roku app to allow private listings by connecting your phone to headphones, but the jack on the remote itself is more convenient for frequent users. David Katzmaier of CNET has been using an older Streaming Stick on a TV in the bedroom in recent years, combined with an improved voice remote control from a Roku Ultra. & # 39; I don't want & # 39; wedding savings & # 39; say, but it is definitely a worthwhile upgrade for us & # 39 ;, he says.

    He was also thrilled to find that the remote search feature also worked on the new remote.

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    Eli Blumenthal / CNET

    While you might not be as keen as Katz on your remote Roku upgrade, hopefully the new remote can make your streaming experience a little better.


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