One hot soundbar

Nebula Soundbar - Fire TV Edition

Speaker simplicity

Roku Smart Soundbar

This is Amazon's first foray into the world of soundbars, but the implementation looks intriguing. You get access to the most current Fire TV functionality with the added benefit of a high-end audio system.

$230 at Amazon

Pros

  • Integrated Fire TV experience
  • Alexa with Voice Remote
  • Can be paired with Echos to create multi-room audio

Cons

  • Not compatible with Google Assistant
  • More expensive than other Fire TV devices

Roku started playing in the smart speaker space last year with its Roku TV Wireless Speakers and the recent Roku Wireless Subwoofer. With its new Smart Soundbar you get the full Roku experience and great audio in one device.

$180 at Roku

Pros

  • Integrated Roku TV experience
  • Features Google Assistant integration
  • Can act as a Bluetooth speaker

Cons

  • Not compatible with Alexa
  • Most expensive Roku streamer

Amazon and Roku have been battling each other in the streaming space for some time. Now they've taken the fight to smart speakers and soundbars. They're both great devices, but which one should you choose? Let's look at the details to help us decide.

How they measure up

Take a look at the spec sheet below to see how these new soundbars stack up against each other.

Nebula Soundbar - Fire TV Edition Roku Smart Soundbar
Dimensions 36" 32"
Microphones Yes with Voice Remote Yes with Voice Remote
Picture Quality 4K, UHD at 60 fps 4K, UHD, HDR 10, 1080p & 720p HD streaming up to 60 fps
Speakers four four
Dolby Atmos No Yes
Dolby Vision Yes Yes
Smart Home Controls Yes No
Music Streaming Yes Yes
Pair Multiple Speakers for Stereo Sound Yes Yes (with Wireless Subwoofer but not Roku TV Wireless Speakers)

There is a lot to like about both of these new smart soundbars. They offer solid specs and spectacular sound and are generally more affordable than other high-end soundbar systems from the likes of Bose or Sonos. Ultimately, the one you pick will depend on which ecosystem you currently belong to. If you are already immersed in the Amazon ecosystem, then the Nebula Soundbar - Fire TV edition is the one for you. If you are familiar with Roku and like its approach to streaming, then the Roku Smart Soundbar is a no-brainer.

If you're not attached to an ecosystem yet, there are a few smaller differences that might sway your decision.

Nebula Soundbar - Fire TV Edition: Pros and cons

The Nebula Soundbar, developed through a partnership between Anker Innovations and Amazon, is Amazon's first attempt at a first-party Alexa-enabled soundbar. However, while other soundbars have shipped with Alexa included, this is the first with a fully-integrated Alexa and Fire TV experience. It connects to your TV as any soundbar or streaming box would, but with its additional smarts, it also acts as your Fire TV streaming hub.

It supports 4K Ultra HD and Dolby Vision and features near-field Alexa voice control. You can use it as an Echo speaker to control your Fire TV, and other connected smart devices with the included Alexa Voice Remote. It can also be paired with other Echo speakers to be a part of a multi-room sound system to stream Amazon Music, Spotify, and even Apple Music.

Unfortunately, this is something to use if you rely on Alexa already. It won't work with other voice assistants.

Roku Smart Soundbar: Pros and cons

The Roku Smart Soundbar takes everything you love about your Roku box and kicks it up a notch. The easy-to-use remote and no fuss interface are there to guide your simple setup, and the device works with Google Assistant. Like the Nebula Soundbar, the Smart Soundbar supports 4K UHD, and HDR 10, as well as Dolby Vision. You can stream your favorite music through the device via Bluetooth, or by using one of the many popular streaming music channels like Spotify or even Amazon Music.

The Smart Soundbar will pair with the new Roku Wireless Subwoofer to improve the depth of the sound quality. Interestingly, however, this new device does not work with the Roku TV Wireless Speakers. So, you can't pair multiple speakers together for an even grander sound experience. It's also the most expensive of the Roku products, but it's still cheaper than the offering from Amazon.

And the winner is?

It's tough to pick the best device from these two new soundbars, but I think the Nebula Soundbar - Fire TV Edition is the better choice. It's bigger, has subwoofers for deeper sound, and its tight integration into the vast Amazon smart home ecosystem means it can serve as another hub for all of your smart home devices. For me, that wins out.

The sound of Fire

Nebula Soundbar - Fire TV Edition

A new (sound) bar for Amazon smart speakers

With built-in Alexa and Fire TV functionality, you can kill multiple birds with one stone with this device.

Roku is growing up

Roku Smart Soundbar

Roku is expanding its line of smart streaming devices

This device marks another example of Roku blazing its own streaming path. With the simple user interface fans love, it looks to be an early success.

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