Roku Remote Not Working? Here Are The Top Fixes – Roku Voice Remote Pro review: great upgrade / Roku’s new $30 remote has upgrades like a rechargeable battery and hands-free voice commands
The new Voice Remote Pro from Roku is the company’s first remote control equipped with an always-listening microphone. This allows you to easily launch streaming apps or find the remote itself, if it’s lost on the couch cushions, using just your voice. The new $29.99 remote, a standalone purchase that works with Roku bands and Roku TVs, also has a headphone jack for personal listening and includes buttons to control your TV’s power and volume. Additionally, Roku includes two customizable shortcut keys that you can program to remember any voice command and repeat it with a press. Perhaps best of all, you’ll no longer need to search for AA batteries: Voice Remote Pro replaces them with rechargeable batteries that can last up to two months on a single charge.
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This clearly appears to be part of the Roku remote. In terms of weight, the Voice Remote Pro feels almost identical in my hand to the remote that came with my TCL Roku TV. But instead of a removable back cover, there’s a Micro USB port on the bottom of this one. Yes, I really wish it was a USB-C jack, but Roku opted for an older plug. Either way, it’s mostly hidden from view when you’re using the remote because it sits behind the purple Roku tag.
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On the left is a 3.5mm jack that will send audio from your Roku TV or Roku streaming device to any headphones you plug in. Private listening remains a great convenience, although other platforms such as Chromecast with Google TV, Fire TV and Apple TV support Bluetooth earphones to achieve the same end result; If you need to keep the room quiet but still want to enjoy a show or movie, you can create a private sound bubble without disturbing others.
There’s another new addition on the left side of the remote: Roku has included a slide switch to enable or disable Voice Remote Pro’s always-listening mode. Some people are uncomfortable with the microphone always on in their home and hearing the wake-up phrase. If you turn off hands-free mode, you can still press and hold the microphone button on the front of the remote to speak commands. On the right are the volume rocker and mute buttons.
All the buttons on the front of the Voice Remote Pro are the same size as on my TCL Roku remote, although this remote is slightly taller as it adds two programmable buttons above the four branded shortcut keys. Roku’s marketing image shows an Apple TV Plus button alongside Netflix, Disney Plus and Hulu. But the remote I received for review actually has Sling TV on it instead of the Apple service. Roku told me it would change that in future shipments, which I took as a sign of how recently its deal with Apple was put together. The buttons can’t be remapped, so if you want an Apple one, it might be best to wait.
Some people don’t mind these branded buttons because they’re easy to use and convenient: others complain that there’s always some app or service in four people that they don’t or never use. Sometimes the buttons overpower the advertised services: Roku had Blockbuster, PlayStation Vue, and Rdio on its previous remote — all services that no longer exist. I can understand both arguments, but given the amount of money Roku makes from those quick access shortcuts, the sponsor button will remain. Thankfully, Roku has at least made a good decision by including two customizable buttons to work with it.
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Buttons labeled “1” and “2” can store any voice command supported by Roku; just long press any button after a voice command, and it will be set as that button’s function. This could be as simple as using them as two shortcuts for apps that don’t have their own buttons, like “open HBO Max” or “open Peacock.” But you can also use shortcut keys for search (“show free movies”), input selection (“switch to TV antenna”) or TV controls (“turn up volume”, “turn on closed captioning”). I like the flexibility.
The Voice Remote Pro’s built-in microphone does a good job of picking up my voice when it’s on the coffee table a few feet away from me; I didn’t have to shout or say anything excessively for my voice commands to register successfully. Roku says the “mid-field mic” can work up to 12 feet away, but at that point, you may need to raise your voice.
However, don’t expect Roku’s voice platform to be a replacement for Google Assistant or Alexa. Other than opening a channel or searching for content, everything is still simple. You can ask what time it is, but it can’t tell you the weather. “Volume up” works fine on my TCL Roku TV, but “brightness down” doesn’t. Certain apps like Disney Plus, Hulu and HBO Max can start playing content immediately after a voice request, but “watch”
On Netflix” requires you to click from a voice search result. (You can say “Hey Roku, OK” to select whatever is currently highlighted, so you can still technically start watching using just your voice.)
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Every smart device now requires you to agree to a set of terms and conditions before you can use it — a contract that no one reads. It is impossible for us to read and analyze each of these agreements. But we started counting exactly how many times you had to hit “agree” to use the device while we reviewed it, because it’s an agreement that most people don’t read and certainly isn’t negotiable.
“Hey Roku, search far” easily proved to be my favorite voice command. Assuming the remote is in a place where it can hear you say so, it will beep for 60 seconds or until you press a button to indicate it has been found. The Roku Ultra has a button on the streaming box itself for this purpose, but it’s easier — assuming you’re okay with the microphone always being on. You can also trigger beeps remotely with the Roku smartphone app.
Amazon recently announced that they are adding sponsored shortcut keys to the Fire TV remote, and this means that Roku and Amazon are pretty much the same when it comes to clicker functionality. Both can control the power and volume of your TV, both have dedicated sponsor buttons. However, Roku’s Voice Remote Pro continues with customizable buttons that Amazon’s remotes lack. And Amazon still requires you to press and hold the microphone button for Alexa commands; no hands-free option. It’s a little surprising that Roku beats Amazon to a remote you can talk to from across the room, even though the Fire TV Cube makes hands-free commands into the streaming device itself.
Roku’s Voice Remote Pro was released just after Logitech confirmed that the Harmony remote was complete. And in part, this remote streaming is why; thanks to HDMI-CEC, they can accommodate enough people that a universal remote control wasn’t a living room essential 10 years ago. And TVs are getting “smarter” with built-in support for Alexa, Google Assistant and Apple HomeKit, so you can incorporate them into your smart home routine.
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Purely from an ergonomic standpoint, my favorite streaming player remote remains Nvidia’s remote for the TV Shield. Yes, there’s a Netflix button — but that’s it for sponsored buttons. And Nvidia lets you fully customize what the settings button does. You can decide what to do with a single tap, press and hold, or double tap. It can be set to open different applications if you want, or you can choose from many other functions. There’s no headphone jack, and Nvidia still uses plain old AA batteries, so the Roku still excels in some ways.
The Apple TV remote eschews streaming app buttons, but it’s too small, gets lost on the edge of the couch, and isn’t great to use. The latest Google Remote for Chromecast is pretty simple, but the furthest it goes with the “customizable” button is that it lets you choose YouTube apps – YouTube, YouTube TV, YouTube Kids, YouTube Music, etc. — The YouTube button will open.
Voice Remote Pro is the best implementation of Roku’s remote to date, though it can’t come close to the scope of Harmony’s capabilities. Programmable buttons, personalized listening, and hands-free voice commands are enough to justify the $29.99 price tag and upgrade over the standard Roku remote. Not everyone will be comfortable with a remote always listening to it, but with the money you save on batteries, it basically pays for itself. Roku is a household name in the home streaming world. The company offers multiple streaming sticks and smart TVs, and has more than 63.1 million monthly active users in the US