Roku is stepping into premium TV territory at CES 2024 with its new Pro Series sets, which feature Mini LED backlighting for better brightness and contrast, as well as enhanced audio. The company announced its first self-made TVs at CES last year — a surprising move, since it has also partnered with TCL and others for years to build "Roku TVs" powered by the Roku OS. Roku's first batch of TV sets, the Select and Plus models, were clearly value-oriented, with prices ranging from $149 to $999. The Pro Series — which includes 55-inch, 65-inch and 75-inch models — tops out at $1,500. We expect to see them in person in Las Vegas next week once CES kicks off.
Calling these "high-end" TVs is relative, of course. You can easily spend thousands more for QLED sets from Samsung, Sony and LG, and the prices only get higher once you're looking at OLED TVs. Rather than gunning for the top of the heap, Roku still appears to be targeting value-oriented shoppers who would normally consider TCL's cheaper TVs. (Roku told us last year it wasn't planning to compete with partners like TCL, but that seems harder to believe now.)
While Roku's earlier mid-range Plus TVs included some notable features, like QLED displays and support for Dolby Vision and Atmos, the Mini LED backlighting in the Pro Series TVs will be a noticeable upgrade. Most mid-range TVs feature a small amount of local dimming backlight zones, which can increase the brightness and contrast in specific areas of the screen. Mini LED backlights offer higher brightness, and since they're so small, they allow for hundreds (and potentially thousands) of dimming zones.
At this point, Mini LEDs are the closest you'll get to the power of OLEDs — which can turn individual pixels on and off to achieve perfect blacks and extreme levels of contrast — on a standard LED screen.
On top of a new family of TVs, Roku also announced that it will be tapping into AI and machine learning for its new Roku Smart Picture features, which can automatically adjust Roku TVs for specific types of content. The company says most consumers don't typically adjust their TV settings, which means they're likely stuck viewing content in sub-optimal ways. We won't see Smart Picture in action until Spring 2024, but it could potentially help to tone down motion smoothing during films and bump it up for sports, where you want footage to look more realistic. (And of course, image purists can always turn it off.)
Roku says its new Pro Series TVs will arrive in the US in Spring 2024. The company will also expand retail availability for its Select and Plus series sets, but we don't have specifics on where they'll show up yet.
We're reporting live from CES 2024 in Las Vegas from January 6-12. Keep up with all the latest news from the show here.
This article originally appeared on Engadget at https://www.engadget.com/roku-high-end-pro-series-tvs-feature-mini-led-screens-164354589.html?src=rss