Review: New Apple TV Siri Remote and Roku Voice Remote Pro

Enlarge / Apple’s and Roku’s new remotes are a welcome improve to their respective streaming experiences, and so they’re suitable with older fashions.

Corey Gaskin

Apple and Roku know that remotes for streaming gadgets are essential. It’s why they not too long ago inked a deal to place an Apple TV+ button on Roku remotes going ahead. It’s additionally why they’ve made some thoughtful upgrades to their respective streaming gadgets within the type of redesigned remotes. Each corporations are targeted on bettering usability and including options through the distant, reasonably than retooling the streamers themselves.

Apple’s new Siri Remote and Roku’s Voice Remote Pro are new gadgets that present customers can purchase to make their streaming experiences a lot much less irritating (in Apple’s case) or simpler and extra feature-rich (in Roku’s). For Apple, a redesign was lengthy overdue. Apple TV remotes have been the stuff of nightmares because the first and solely redesign over half a decade in the past. Roku’s remotes by no means had that kind of over-engineering drawback—as an alternative, they’ve suffered from the alternative concern, typically feeling hole and low cost whereas lacking some helpful features on all however the highest-end Roku gamers.

Now, these remotes aren’t in direct competitors with each other. And in some key areas like worth and wide-ranging help, the streamers they management each fall behind the latest Google Chromecast—a tool we found preferable not simply to these, however to Amazon’s Fireplace TV platform as properly. However for anybody who’s already utilizing a streaming possibility from Apple or Roku, scrapping these gadgets solely might be a big waste of cash and a basic ache relying on their setup. Including one among these new remotes, although, will enhance the expertise appreciably.

The brand new Siri Distant

Apple TV Siri Remote product image

Apple TV Siri Distant

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Apple’s first-generation Siri distant was too skinny and slick, being made from aluminum and glass. Its sensitive trackpad was a minefield you couldn’t keep away from. That anxiety-inducing design caught across the Apple TV for six lengthy years, nevertheless it’s now been completely redesigned.

In comparison with the first-generation distant’s aluminum physique, the brand new Siri distant has been barely beefed up for a greater grip and really feel. The distant has a extra satisfying heft within the hand, and it’s thick and sq. sufficient to keep away from feeling such as you may drop it once you go to press a button. The extra strong construct high quality must also fare higher if/when drops do happen, particularly in comparison with the aluminum and glass design of the earlier era.

The brand new design does incorporate some contact parts launched within the final Siri Distant, although. Fortunately, it’s not as sensitive (ahem) as earlier than. That’s largely as a result of smaller footprint of the contact space. As an alternative of taking over a 3rd of the distant’s physique, contact sensitivity is confined solely to the middle button itself, which can also be concave. Meaning it’s a lot tougher to unintentionally swipe the contact controls whereas reaching for or greedy the distant. Moreover, you possibly can disable contact solely or, just like the earlier era, modify the contact sensitivity as properly.

Whether or not you may have contact management enabled or not, you should use the directional arrows surrounding the enter button to navigate solely, as early Apple TV adopters used to get pleasure from. The combination of those two is the proper candy spot for usability. It’s enjoyable to nonetheless have the ability to flick by titles but additionally click on buttons once I need extra precision. The touchpad now reacts solely once I need it to, and it really works easily for choice or scrubbing by media playback.

There’s additionally a brand new energy button within the high proper nook which you’ll maintain all the way down to energy off your Apple TV and every other IR gadgets you’ve paired with the Siri Distant. Pairing up my older Polk Surroundbar 5000 with the Apple TV through the latter’s distant studying operate was straightforward sufficient, although I couldn’t pair my first-generation Beats by Dre Beatbox in the identical approach.

Apple's new Siri Remote takes design cues from both previous generations, creating an ideal balance of analog and high-tech feel. From left to right: Apple TV Remote, Siri Remote (first gen), Siri Remote (second gen).
Enlarge / Apple’s new Siri Distant takes design cues from each earlier generations, creating a super steadiness of analog and high-tech really feel. From left to proper: Apple TV Distant, Siri Distant (first gen), Siri Distant (second gen).


Each the Polk and Beatbox remotes use direct line of sight IR, in order that was a considerably surprising bummer. I do notice we’re speaking about controlling a tool that has been discontinued for the higher a part of a decade now, nevertheless it nonetheless cranks some critical sound, OK? You shouldn’t have any points controlling comparatively new soundbars or TVs with the most recent Siri Distant, although.

The Siri activation button has additionally been moved to the facet of the distant, the place I initially mistook it for a quantity rocker, as that is the amount management placement on each Roku’s and Google’s streaming remotes. I’d want the latter placement. “Hey Siri” voice activation might ameliorate any potential awkwardness, however Siri’s precise performance is unchanged with the brand new distant, in order that’s nonetheless a bit missing. This appeared like an excellent time so as to add such help however, for now, it’s straightforward sufficient to accept my nearest iOS machine dealing with the command as an alternative. Battery life on the Siri Distant appears sturdy, as I have been utilizing it for about an hour of TV time a day for 4 weeks and have 60% of the battery leftover on the time of this writing.

Apple says the brand new Siri Distant works with each generations of Apple TV 4K streamers in addition to the Apple TV HD.

Roku’s Voice Distant Professional

Roku Voice Remote Pro product image

Roku Voice Distant Professional

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Roku’s remotes all fluctuate barely from machine to machine, be it a TV, streaming stick, or in any other case, however the Voice Distant Professional is the most effective iteration the corporate has launched in practically each approach.

In comparison with the others, the one knock I can provide is its inclusion of a Sling TV button, which is sensibly changed by an Apple TV+ shortcut on Roku’s Express 4K+ distant. Roku says this transformation can even be made in future manufacturing of the Voice Distant Professional, as the 2 corporations not too long ago agreed to maintain this transformation going ahead on all of Roku’s remotes. In the long run, it’s not a big deal, as there are additionally two programmable buttons you possibly can simply map to apps or frequent features to ameliorate this.

Relying in your Roku machine, you would be lacking any of the next buttons and options of the Voice Distant Professional:

  • A remote-finding siren
  • Arms-free “Hey Roku” instructions (which you’ll allow or disable)
  • A chargeable battery, sadly charged through the traditional microUSB customary (a cable is included, however come on)
  • A 3.5mm headphone jack for personal listening
  • Two programmable buttons that may act as shortcuts to apps or generally used instructions, like switching the HDMI enter

Even when you’ve got Roku’s top-of-the-line gadgets, just like the Roku Ultra or Streambar Pro, selecting up a Voice Distant professional will add hands-free “Hey Roku” instructions and USB charging past your present distant’s options. It’ll additionally beef up the distant’s footprint in a satisfying albeit not completely vital approach

All of Roku’s remotes are made from plastic and really feel a bit mild and hole. The one which got here with my TCL Roku TV, purchased in 2020, feels the most affordable, lightest, and most bottom-heavy, whereas the common voice distant (which comes with the Categorical 4K+ and a few different Roku gadgets) and Voice Distant Professional each really feel extra strong and balanced. The Professional is the thickest, however that made little or no distinction for higher or for worse. Each really feel superior to my Roku TV’s distant in each approach, from completely different plastic textures to the general weight and steadiness.

Options are the primary cause you’ll need to improve, not the way it feels in hand. On this space, all works easily and as supposed proper out of the gate. Plugging within the distant to an influence supply put mine straight into pairing mode. As soon as I used to be within the applicable TV menu, connecting it to my TV was executed with a push of a button.

Plugging in a pair of headphones to the distant works instantly, too. As for quantity, it does get loud sufficient to drown out individuals speaking, and completely different fashion headphones can assist with that as properly. Sadly, there’s no compatibility with Bluetooth headphones, so you’ll have to use a wired set like these that include the distant.

“Hey Roku” works properly, as does the swap to disable it, and saving a command through the shortcut button solely requires an extended press after the motion is executed. For primary instructions and features, this all works precisely as you’d like, however as famous in our comparability between Roku, Chromecast, and Amazon’s Fireplace Stick, it’s not all the time the easiest way to seek for content material. After all, when you’ve got a Roku at the moment, then you definitely’re possible aware of how greatest to seek for content material and the Voice Distant Professional received’t be altering that.

For those who didn’t have it earlier than, the distant finder is a function it’s possible you’ll respect and one thing that actually must be customary for all tiny streaming remotes like this. There are alternatives to alter the sound to sharper or extra boisterous tones, as properly. No matter your choice, it will get loud sufficient to listen to in a room or the following room over, so long as your TV isn’t blaring.

So far as battery life goes, I’ve been testing this distant for about 4 weeks and have 80% battery left from the unique cost. It’s not getting a ton of use although, principally simply to change sources or queue one thing as much as watch, so your mileage might fluctuate. Regardless, it’s a pleasant perk to skip stocking batteries for yet one more machine.

When it comes to compatibility, Roku says the Voice Distant Professional will work with “all Roku TV fashions, Roku audio gamers, and most Roku gamers,” together with the Roku Categorical, Roku Categorical +, Roku Streaming Stick, Roku Streaming Stick+, Roku Extremely, Roku Extremely LT, Roku SE, Roku 2, Roku 3, Roku Premiere, Roku Premiere+, and Roku 4. The corporate notes that some older Categorical and Categorical+ might not work, nonetheless.

The decision

In terms of cutting-edge, feature-rich streaming experiences, how a lot do these remotes push the class ahead? Not a lot. However do they make Apple TV and Roku die-hards’ lives higher? Undoubtedly.

Briefly, neither of those upgraded remotes make their respective streaming platforms higher-valued or typically higher picks over the Google Chromecast with Google TV, our present general-purpose decide amongst media streamers. For most individuals, the $50 Chromecast will ship an total higher expertise with its large machine compatibility, superior search performance, and, most significantly, its unmatched capability to serve up related and diversified watch recommendations.

Nonetheless, if you have already got an Apple TV that you just don’t plan to exchange, and also you’re keen to pay a bit extra to get rid of that “don’t contact the distant!” streaming anxiousness, upgrading to the brand new Siri Distant will efficiently try this. As for Roku’s Voice Distant Professional, $30 is terribly near the $50 worth of a brand-new Google Chromecast (which itself would work with any Roku TV). However in case you’ve already made your mattress with a Roku streamer and wish extra out of it, you may be doing your self a favor by getting a distant that’s tougher to lose, doesn’t require batteries, and provides non-public listening and hands-free voice management to your TV.

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