Skip to main content

Walmart-exclusive Roku soundbar and sub put price before performance

Walmart has just announced a set of exclusive Roku devices under its “onn.” brand: The onn. Roku Smart Soundbar, which includes the Roku OS streaming interface, and the onn. Roku Wireless Subwoofer. They sell for $129 each, which is $50 less per device than the recently announced Roku Smart Soundbar and Roku Wireless Subwoofer.

Despite the nearly identical names and product designs, the differences are more than skin-deep. These Walmart-exclusive versions of the Roku Soundbar and Subwoofer are less powerful and make a better option for those who value price over performance.

Related Videos

The onn. version of the Roku Smart Soundbar features 40 watts of peak power versus the Roku Smart Soundbar’s 60 watts. It also uses different drivers, though Roku did not say exactly what the differences are. The onn. Roku Wireless Subwoofer pack substantially less punch than the Roku version, at 150 watts of peak power versus the Roku’s 250 watts. In both cases, the driver is 10-inches.

The onn.-branded soundbar comes with a simple Roku remote that uses IR functionality. You get dedicated TV power, volume, and mute buttons, but there is no microphone for voice functionality — another area where Walmart has scaled back on features to deliver a lower price.

Connections are plentiful. You can use HDMI-ARC for an easy, single-cable solution with compatible TVs, or you can hook-up both HDMI and optical cables if you have an older model of TV. It’s also a Bluetooth speaker, which gives you a way better option for sound quality when listening to audio from your phone, tablet, or computer.

Just like Roku’s own version of the Smart Soundbar, the onn. model has advanced audio modes including automatic volume leveling, Night Mode, and Speech Clarity.

When it comes to actual Roku functionality, you still get the whole package. The onn. Roku Smart Soundbar supports 4K, HDR, and Dolby Audio, and works with thousands of streaming apps including Roku’s The Roku Channel — a one-stop-shop for finding free and premium movies and TV shows to watch. As with Roku’s version, the Walmart Roku Soundbar is compatible with Google Assistant and Alexa-enabled devices.

The Walmart onn. Roku Smart Soundbar and Wireless Subwoofer will be available in-store and online in the coming weeks. If you prefer the idea of Roku’s own versions of these devices, you can pre-order them now, with an expected October 13 ship date.

Editors' Recommendations

I used two of the year’s oddest tech gadgets so you don’t have to
The open Nokia 5710 XpressAudio and Huawei Watch Buds

If you’re intent on not keeping your true wireless earbuds in a normal charging case, and want to hide them inside a different gadget, now is your time. The Huawei Watch Buds is a smartwatch with a pair of true wireless headphones inside, and the Nokia 5710 XpressAudio is a 4G phone that stores a pair of earbuds in the back.

It’s a bizarre niche that I’m surprised contains two products. I’ve used them, so it's my duty to report that both are a bit silly — and I don’t want to use any more of them, thank you very much. However, for the few people out there thinking they want to buy one, this is what they're like. For everyone else, you get to marvel at two of the oddest tech products seen in a while.
Phone or smartwatch?

Read more
What is Dolby Vision? The dynamic HDR format fully explained
An example of the difference between Dolby Vision and regular HDR.

Of all the new TV technologies to emerge over the last few years, it's arguable that none has had as big an impact on overall picture quality as High Dynamic Range, or HDR. When properly implemented, HDR makes everything pop, while enhancing details and improving color. We think it has been more impactful than the move from Full HD (1080p) to 4K Ultra HD or even 8K resolution.

But not all HDR is created equal; in fact, HDR is a catch-all term that refers to several distinct and competing technologies. The one with the biggest brand recognition is Dolby Vision. Dolby Labs has done such a good job of marketing Dolby Vision as its own platform, many consumers aren't even aware that it's an HDR format.  That shouldn't be a surprise: TVs that have Dolby Vision technology are often labeled as "4K HDR TV with Dolby Vision," making it seem as though the two terms aren't related.

Read more
What is Sonos? The speakers, app, and everything you need to know about wireless music
Sonos Roadm in three colors.

When you think about wireless music, one name comes to mind. Sonos. And unless you’re a diehard analog music fan who shuns anything digital, you’ve likely encountered the Sonos brand. It effectively pioneered and normalized the idea of multi-room, digital wireless audio, and it’s still the gold standard to beat.

Curious about what exactly Sonos does, and how it works in the same world that already includes Apple, Spotify, and even your old Technics turntable? Is Sonos right for you? Let's dig into it.
What is Sonos?

Read more