The Roku remote control hasn’t changed a whole lot over the years. Sure, buttons have come and gone (RIP remote as a game controller), and the sponsored shortcuts have changed depending on who was willing to pony up for prime placement.
But one feature that’s been consistent over the years — and likely isn’t going anywhere any time soon — is the Star button on the Roku remote. But what does the Star button do on a Roku remote?
Quite a few things, as it turns out.
Here’s the simplest way to think about the Star button on a Roku remote: It basically is a sort of “menu” button. Press it, and it’ll pop open some options to do … things. What those things are, exactly, depends on a few other things. Lots of things. All the things. Those things mostly depend on whether you’re using a
This one’s mostly universal whether you’re using a Roku TV or
You then get some information and options. Let’s use YouTube TV as an example.
First, you’ll note the version and build numbers for the channel. That’s really only useful if you’re a developer or are helping a developer troubleshoot some issues.
After that, there’s the star rating — yes, you can rate channels. Then there’s the really important stuff. If you want to change the order of the channels on your home screen, this is where you’ll do it. Select Move channel and you’ll be able to change the location of the channel on your home screen.
The rest is pretty obvious. Remove channel removes the channel. Check for updates checks to see if there’s an update to the channel. (It’ll say it’s been updated whether or not it’s actually been updated.) Give us feedback allows you to give Roku feedback.
If you’re using a Roku TV, you’ll also be able to hit the Star button on other inputs. So if you have, say, a soundbar, antenna, or game console plugged into your
When it comes to using the Star button while you’re in the midst of watching video, it gets a little complex.
Let’s start with Roku TV, which makes up the majority of smart TVs out there. They’re so popular thanks to being easy to use, with a lot of relatively inexpensive options. And they all have the same remote control, more or less.
The Star button does the same on the home screen as what we’ve noted above. There’s no difference there.
But when you get into watching a video, you’ll note how the Star button takes you to things that affect what you see and hear on the TV directly. On a several-year-old TCL Roku TV, for example, you might see options for the sleep timer, picture settings, sound settings, and accessibility.
There’s also an interesting option simply called Picture off, which turns off the display but still keeps whatever was on screen running in the background. So you can listen without watching. That’s kind of cool.
If you’re using a Roku player — that is, a streaming stick or the like — your options will be far more limited because it can’t directly control picture settings on the TV. For example: I’ve got a stick plugged into an LG OLED TV, and the only options I get when pressing the Star button while a video is playing are for accessibility and to change the volume mode. That’s it.
If you read through the Roku developer documentation, you sort of get the sense that the Star Button can do all sorts of things. There’s a fun caveat tucked in there, though. “Do not design your channel to use the Star/Option button during video playback.”
For the non-developer folks out there, which is most of us, it’s best not to overthink any of this. Hit the Star button every now and then to see what it does. It’s possible that software updates may change things. Or that there’s simply an option or setting you hadn’t seen before.
Regardless, all hail the Star button. Long may it reign.
Whole-home automation and control company, Control4, has just added a new option for its customers who want a customizable way to operate their gadgets. The $600 Neeo is an ultra-thin aluminum-body hybrid remote created by Neeo Remote Control, the Swiss company Control4 acquired early in 2019. With a small cluster of physical buttons within easy reach of your thumbs and a high-res 3-inch color LCD touchscreen, the Neeo remote provides both customization and convenience to Control4 systems running its OS 3 software.
If the Neeo looks familiar, that’s because the company sold a very similar version to Kickstarter backers in 2018 for $369. When we reviewed it at the time, we were impressed by its sleek and elegant design, but considerably less enthusiastic about its actual functionality. It failed to provide a better overall experience than a Harmony Elite and many of its coolest features like handprint recognition and a lost remote finder failed to materialize despite being promised to backers. Some of its customizations like one-touch access to favorite channels proved difficult to set up.
Roku recently announced changes to its streaming player lineup, including a new version of the $100 Roku Ultra and the $30 Roku Express. But the company was apparently planning another change: Its popular Roku Streaming Stick+ just got a mute button on the remote and a $10 price drop. It’s now just $50, bringing the 4K HDR streamer down to the same price as Amazon’s Fire TV Stick 4K. The new model will be available starting October 20.
The Roku lineup now makes a bit more sense. Previously, the Streaming Stick+ and the Walmart-exclusive Streaming Stick+ HE were the same price, even though the HE offered a remote with a headphone jack for private listening and a set of earbuds. With the $10 price cut on the regular Streaming Stick+, people who don’t need the private listening feature now have a more affordable option.
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