People cutting the cable TV cord can access all their favorite online streaming services through Roku’s range of devices. The company’s streaming accessories include small set-top boxes and sticks that offer varying capabilities and features, as well as a media hub soundbar.
Roku’s devices are designed to be simple to set up and easy to use. They simply need to be connected to a TV via HDMI or USB and connected to Wi-Fi, enabling users to start streaming their favorite movies and TV shows through the Roku app.
Streamers, therefore, have plenty of choices when it comes to selecting a Roku device. This article will review their options to help them select the one that best fits their needs.
How To Choose the Right Roku Device
Choosing the right streaming device depends on several factors, including device type, price and viewing quality preferences.
Users’ existing devices
The type of device that a user prefers to consume their content on is an important factor to consider before buying any streaming device. Roku sticks and streaming hubs are perfect for viewers who like to stream at home on their TV. But it is not an option for people that prefer to watch content on mobile phones or tablets.
Price is also an important consideration when selecting a media streamer. Roku’s streaming sticks are priced between $29.99 and $99.99 with its media hub and TVs costing upwards of $179.99. The product price is defined by the type of device and its capabilities and features. Streamers need to consider why they need a streamer and what they want to use it for to select an appropriate device.
The quality of picture and sound that streamers are looking for is another key consideration when selecting a device. Most new streaming devices now offer the option of ultra-high definition resolution (or 4K) and high dynamic range (HDR) video quality. But there is no need to buy a 4K streaming device if the user does not have a TV that supports the resolution.
Roku’s Streaming Devices Reviewed
All of the devices below provide access to Roku Channels, of which there are more than 4,000 available in the Roku Channel Store. This includes all the major streaming media services that would be expected, from Amazon Prime Video, Hulu and Netflix to Sling TV and Twitch. However, it also provides access to a vast library of niche apps and services, enabling viewers to indulge all of their movie, music, news and sports needs.
All devices are supported by a remote control and powerful search features that enable users to find content across Roku’s free channels and paid-for services. Additionally, users can download the free Roku mobile app, which turns their phone or tablet into a second remote control. This enables them to search with their keyboard, access an entertainment guide and send their music, photos and videos to their TV.
Best For Entry Streamers: Roku Express (from $29.99)
Roku’s budget streaming device is a great option for people who are new to streaming and looking for a good place to get started. The device is a set-top box that comes with a high-speed HDMI cable to connect it to the TV and a USB cable that handles power. It is controlled by a simple remote control that provides shortcuts to their favorite channels. The device also includes two AAA batteries to power the remote and sticky tape to discreetly store it under the TV.
The Roku Express enables users to stream content across free and paid-for streaming services like Amazon Prime Video, Disney+ Netflix, Pluto TV and Spotify. It updates automatically to ensure users are always working with the latest software.
Best For Basic Smart Capabilities: Roku Express Plus (from $39.99)
The Roku Express+ features all the same capabilities as the Express. However, the device can be plugged into an outlet and is compatible with voice-enabled devices like Alexa and Google Assistant. It also provides legacy standard-definition (SD) video support through composite video.
Best For Entry 4K Viewing: Roku Premiere (from $39.99)
The Roku Premiere provides similar features to the Express but offers users more performance. A set-top box, the device supports HDR and 4K resolution, while the Express is restricted to 1080p high definition (HD). Like the Express sticks, Roku Premiere provides a simple entry into streaming live TV and on-demand content. It also includes a premium high-speed HDMI cable to boost users’ video quality.
Best For Basic Voice Control: Roku Premiere Plus (from $49.99)
The Roku Premiere+ set-top box provides all the same features as the Premiere. The only difference between the two products is that the Premiere+ features a voice remote, whereas the Premiere has an infrared remote without a microphone. That extra voice capability costs an extra $10.
Best for powerful media hub: Roku Smart Soundbar (from $179.99)
The Roku Smart Soundbar is a little different from the other devices on this list. The soundbar has media streaming capabilities that enable it to act as a media hub. The device is fitted with HDMI ARC, an optical port and USB ports as well as screw holes for users to mount it to a wall. It has Bluetooth and compatibility with Spotify Connect to meet users’ music streaming needs. The device also features 4K and HDR10 support for optimal video quality. The Roku Smart Soundbar is fully managed by a remote control that has voice support but no headphone jack. It is also vastly more expensive than the Roku set-top boxes and streaming sticks.
Best For Voice-Controlled Streaming: Roku Streaming Stick (from $49.99)
Unlike the Express and Premier, the Roku Streaming Stick plugs directly into the user’s TV and can be powered by either plugging it into an outlet or via a USB cable. It supports 1080p HD video quality.
The Streaming Stick features 802.11ac dual-band MIMO wireless connectivity that offers four times the range of Express and Premiere devices. It also offers voice control capability that enables users to manage the power and volume controls on their TV and search for content.
Best For High-Performance Streaming: Roku Streaming Stick Plus (from $59.99)
The Roku Streaming Stick+ has the same features as the Streaming Stick but ups the video quality to 4K and HDR10. It is a great choice for people looking for a high-performance, smoother streaming experience. The plus version extends wireless connectivity with an extender in the middle of the power cable, which extends the range of the Roku device and provides a more reliable signal.
Best For Ultimate Streaming Experiences: Roku Ultra (from $99.99)
The Roku Ultra is a high-end streaming box that plugs into the power outlet and connects to the TV via HDMI cable. The device is designed for 4K video streaming and offers Roku’s most powerful video processing. The box can be connected to a Wi-Fi network or via its Ethernet port, which is ideal for perfect 4K video streaming. It also has USB and microSD ports for loading external content and an infrared receiver that ensures it works with universal remotes.
The device features an advanced remote control, with features like A and B buttons for playing games on the TV and a headphone jack that enables users to listen to their content privately. Another nice feature is a button on the Ultra box that emits a sound on the remote control in case of it getting lost.
Best For Smart TVs: Roku TV (from $129.99)
Roku is increasingly moving into the television market, although it doesn’t actually build or sell its own TVs. Instead, manufacturers use the company’s technology to power their smart TVs, which is enabling users to get internet-connected TVs at a much lower price point. The first Roku TV was manufactured by HiSense.
Roku-powered TVs use the same platform and enable the same channels as Roku’s streaming devices. But rather than having to plug a device into the TV, the streaming capability is built directly into the set. The majority of Roku TVs now support 4K, and some enable Dolby Vision HDR.
Cutting the Cable TV Cord With Roku Streaming Devices
Roku provides an extensive range of devices that enable people to the cable TV cord. The Roku Express boxes are strong options for people who are new to streaming or don’t have a 4K TV. Those who are fully invested in the streaming experience can look to the slightly more expensive Premiere, Streaming Stick and Ultra devices that offer more advanced features and higher streaming quality. Streamers who are serious about their entertainment setup can spend a little more on the Smart Soundbar or a Roku-powered internet-connected TV.
Roku’s streaming boxes, media hubs and sticks enable people to enjoy their favorite free and paid-for video services. This includes on-demand services like Disney+, Hulu and Netflix and live TV offerings such as Hulu + Live TV, fuboTV, Philo, Sling TV and YouTube TV. They are also ideal for accessing popular digital music providers such as Apple Music, Pandora and Spotify. Roku users can test out all these channels and more with free trials that range between seven days and one month.
Current as of June 2020*
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