Roku launches its first Mini-LED TVs with OS 13 update

Mike Wheatley

Roku has announced the launch of its first Mini-LED TVs that were shown at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas in January, coinciding their availability with the release of Roku OS 13.


The company said its selection of Mini-LED TVs is available now in the U.S. via Amazon, and consumers can choose from 55-, 65- and 75-inch size options, with prices starting at an ultra-competitive $850 for the smallest model.

They’re called the Roku Pro Series TVs and as well as the 4K resolution and Mini-LED local dimming zones, they also feature “enhanced audio technology”, the company said.

There has not been any word on the exact number of local dimming zones, which is a crucial factor in determining how good the picture quality actually is. Given the low price tag and failure to disclose that stat, it seems unlikely they’ll challenge higher-end Mini-LED TVs and OLED televisions.

On the other hand, they will ship with the latest version of Roku OS, which is getting some nice new features courtesy of today’s update.

Roku OS 13 Update

The flagship new feature is “Backdrops”, which is a new kind of screen-saver that replaces the iconic Roku City image with various museum-quality artworks. They’re designed primarily for the new Mini-LED Pro Series Roku TVs, which can be wall mounted and have a super-slim bezel, making them somewhat similar to Samsung Electronics’ “The Frame” TV. The idea is that, at a distance at least, they’re almost indistinguishable from real paintings.

The Backdrops will work on any Roku TV however, but it’s unlikely they’ll all replicate the impression of it being a real artwork, as it will depend on the actual picture quality of the TV. Roku said the TV will automatically optimize the brightness level when displaying artwork to make sure it’s rendered at its most vibrant. Roku TVs with ambient light sensors will make use of them to also adjust the luminosity level based on the lighting conditions in the room.

Roku hasn't mentioned any specific artworks, artist names or collections, so users will just have to explore its gallery themselves to see if they can find anything that appeals.


Another new feature is the Roku Smart Picture, which allows any Roku TV to analyze the type of content being watched and improve the picture quality. So if someone is watching a football game, the TV will automatically switch to a sports mode, then if they switch to a Dolby Vision movie, the picture will adjust again.

Roku said even its oldest TVs will get Roku Smart Picture capabilities (which users will need to enable in the settings), but the best effects will be seen in its newer TVs that feature a neural processing unit or NPU. These are dedicated AI processing chips that can analyze content on a scene-by-scene basis. So, if the TV detects a blue sky on the screen, it will increase the vividness to make it look more realistic. Meanwhile, a city skyline would be sharpened a tad to make it pop out a bit more than it otherwise would.

Other, less important updates include the addition of IMDB ratings to films and TV shows, a new “Top-Searched Movies and TV” row in the content search menu, and an enhanced Roku City screensaver with new vehicles, including a secret agent car and an ice cream truck.

The Roku OS 13 upgrade will be rolled out slowly in the coming months to older TVs, while any new Roku TV that launches this year will have the new platform pre-installed.