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Roku’s first soundbar doubles as a streaming box

Generally, when I think of Roku, I think of those handy HDMI streaming boxes that turn dumb TVs into smart ones. And sometimes my mind will wander to Roku TVs, smart television sets built by companies like TCL and Sharp that run the company’s Roku OS. The thing is, Roku wants to be more than just an outfit that throws Netflix onto your TV screen. As evidenced by the wireless speakers it released last year and its growing team of audio researchers and engineers, Roku also wants to be the company that makes your streaming media sound great. And that’s where its new Smart Soundbar enters the picture.

The 32-inch, Dolby-compatible soundbar will go on sale later this year for $180, and it packs four 2.5-inch speakers along with the guts of a Roku Ultra — quad-core processor and all. Unlike last year’s Smart Speakers the Soundbar is meant to drive your television by itself, and thanks to those borrowed components, it can handle streaming video playback at up to 4K resolution. In other words, the soundbar isn’t meant to augment the Roku players you already own as much as replace them outright. The soundbar isn’t alone, either. An additional $180 will also net you a wireless subwoofer that — appropriately enough — looks like a Roku Ultra that went through a late growth spurt. Aesthetics aside, it packs a single, downward-firing 10-inch woofer and its output peaks at 250W…

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