TCL’s new wireless soundbar gives Roku TVs better audio for $179.99

By Umar Shakir

Wall mounted TV with Soundbar on a blue entertainment center in a clean apartment with a laundry hamper to the right
One less cable to run makes this look more achievable
Image: TCL

If you need to elevate the audio experience for your second guest bedroom’s Roku TV, TCL’s new soundbar may be the one for you. The Roku TV Wireless Soundbar (announced at CES 2021 as the Alto R1) is TCL’s vision of a simple and easy audio drop-in solution for $179.99 that only works with Roku TVs but not any other Roku streaming box.

As far as soundbars go, the unit is bare bones with no HDMI or audio ports. TCL is saying this is by design for a clutter-free entertainment center where the only cable you need to route is the power cable — all other functions are wireless using Wi-Fi 802.11ac. A part of the “Roku TV Ready” lineup of products the company is putting out, this soundbar uses the existing Roku TV remote and lets you pair the soundbar wirelessly through the Roku TV setup menus.

Rear of the TCL Roku TV wireless soundbar with one power port, a reset button, and no other ports
No ports means less cables, but also less options.
Image: TCL

In terms of features, the Roku TV Wireless Soundbar is 2.0 channel pumping out what the company calls “studio quality” audio with a max output of 120W. Multiple EQ settings are available in the TV sound settings menu, and the soundbar is capable of software updates. Expandability includes adding the Roku Wireless Subwoofer for 2.1 audio, but unfortunately, Roku’s own wireless speakers can’t come to play. The soundbar also has Bluetooth 5.0 to stream from smartphones and includes wall mount hardware for some DIY frills.

TCL does sell other “Roku TV Ready” soundbars with subwoofers and HDMI, such as the Alto 6+ for $129.99, and those can even use the wireless speaker set for full surround sound. If you can figure out how to plug in one HDMI cable, then this probably isn’t made for you. But if your TV setup is unusually complicated, or you just want to meet the bare minimum requirements for upgraded audio without taking extra steps, this is a budget-friendly match for your Roku TV set. Available now for $179.99 from Best Buy and Amazon.