Latest Roku TV causes motion smoothing problems that cannot be fixed

Mike Wheatley

Roku’s latest TV operating system update has been causing problems, with multiple users reporting on Reddit and the company’s forums that they’re now unable to switch off motion smoothing.


The Roku OS 13 update was launched in April, and has led to dozens of users taking to the internet forums to complain that motion smoothing is now permanently switched on. They say there’s no ability to switch off the feature via the picture settings menu, as there used to be. The issue appears to primarily affect TCL TVs running the Roku OS software, though not all are affected, as some users who have access to “Expert” picture settings claim they can still switch it off.

Some have speculated that the issue may be due to the new Roku Smart Picture feature that was added in the most recent update, but others dismiss such claims. This is a new automatic picture optimization mode that’s able to adjust the picture settings automatically, based on the type of content being watched, so it could definitely impact motion smoothing. However, some users with older Roku TVs that haven’t gained this feature also report issues with motion smoothing not switching off.

Yet more Roku TV owners say the update has enabled them to access motion smoothing for the first time. They say that they’re seeing its effects, despite no mention of the setting in any of the picture settings menus – either “standard” or “expert”. So they, too, cannot switch it off.

A community moderator on the Roku forums has posted to say that the company is aware of the issue and is now looking into it to see what can be done, but there is no simple fix just yet.

Motion smoothing is a controversial feature on some TVs that can help them to make fast-moving scenes found in action movies and on live sports look smoother and clearer. It’s a common feature on many of the most advanced TVs today, and can even be accessed on premium models that should be able to handle such scenes without it.

While it can be helpful sometimes, others vehemently reject the feature, pointing out that in movies that run at slower frame rates, the settings tend to “over-smooth” the images on-screen, creating a “soap opera” effect. When this happens, the on-screen images appear as if they are a cheaply-made soap opera.

In some scenarios motion smoothing can be helpful, especially with entry-level TV sets. By reducing blur and judder, fast-paced images can be smoothed and that results in a better viewing experience. However, purists argue that the feature should never be switched on, regardless of the TV being used, and say it should be switched off if you’re looking for a more authentic experience.

A number of Hollywood A-listers have been quite vocal about their opposition to motion smoothing, including the actor Tom Cruise and the director James Cameron.

Settings such as Filmmaker Mode and Game Mode, found on many modern TVs, provide an easy way to switch off motion processing.

Roku has caused quite a bit of controversy recently through its updates. Earlier this year, some Roku TV users complained they had been locked out of their TVs until they agreed to some controversial new terms about how their data will be used. Moreover, Roku has been using its updates as a way to increase the prevalence of ads shown on its platform.