Roku seems to be exploring the idea of ditching the AA and AAA batteries.
A screenshot shared by Reddit user of an offer for a Roku Voice Remote Pro teased a rechargeable remote, available as a limited-supply concept with just 2,000 units. According to the listing, the remote included two personal shortcut keys, hands-free voice support, a lost remote finder, and support for private listening. By all appearances, the remote has the same design of most other Roku remotes and was priced at $30.
Reached for comment about the remote, a Roku spokesperson told Gizmodo that the company is “always working on bringing new products and features to Roku users, and part of that process is publicly testing new ideas with a small set of our customers.” The company did not immediately respond to a request for comment about which standard the remote uses for charging.
Say what you will about the Apple TV remote—which, to be clear, I despite my colleagues’ frequent reminders that this opinion is bad and wrong—but one of the best things about it is the fact that it’s rechargeable. This is especially true for Apple TV users who also have iPhones. The remote shouldn’t die without the Apple TV giving you some warning and opportunity to recharge it. But if it does, the iPhone for controlling the Apple TV anyway.
Now, the Apple TV isn’t perfect. Rather than using Apple’s proprietary charging standard, an ideal remote would instead use USB-C—and that’s what we’d like to see on the Roku remote should it roll out wide at any point.
And sure, some Roku users may be using rechargeable AA or AAA batteries in their remotes. But for those who aren’t—and particularly for those who do a lot of private listening, which to drain batteries like crazy—that’s a lot of battery waste that might be avoided by a rechargeable battery. An even better system might allow users to upgrade or trade in their older streaming devices but keep their remotes so they’re using them for longer.
For now, though, it looks like the remotes are only available to a few lucky Roku users. The rest of us will just have to wait.