It looks like Roku is putting the final touches on a new version of its remote control, which could include built-in rechargeable batteries, and hands-free voice commands. The details of this new remote, which could debut as early as this month, were shared on the Roku subreddit last week and spotted by Zatz Not Funny.
According to a screengrab posted to the subreddit, Roku is seeding test units of the Roku Voice Remote Pro to a limited group of 2,000 of its users. The new remote pictured in the image looks virtually identical to existing Roku remotes, but the accompanying text says that it features a rechargeable battery, hands-free voice, and a lost remote finder that can be triggered just by saying, “Hey Roku, find my remote.”
It’s not clear if the remote’s microphone is expected to be able to hear such a request or if an additional mic located on a Roku player or TV would be needed, too.
Along with these new features, the Roku Voice Remote Pro retains features of the company’s Roku Ultra remote, including a headphone jack for private listening, and power, volume, and mute buttons.
The screengrab also displays a $30 price and an expected ship date of February 19, 2021, though it’s not clear whether that’s the price Roku intends to sell the remote for when it becomes widely available, or simply a promotional price for those who take part in the limited test.
One of the commenters on the Reddit thread who claims to have been testing the new remote since before the 2020 holidays, says that the remote is charged via a MicroUSB connector, which would be an interesting choice. USB-C has rapidly become the de facto connector for new Android-based smartphones and accessories, which you would think would make it the logical port to include on a new remote. On the other hand, Roku’s research may show that its users are more likely to own MicroUSB cables and chargers, making the older connector a more popular choice.
When asked to comment on the existence of the new remote, a Roku spokesperson told Digital Trends that, “We’re always working on bringing new products and features to Roku users, and part of that process is publicly testing new ideas with a small set of our customers.” The spokesperson declined to confirm the remote’s features, its pricing, or broader availability.