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- Streaming is the best way to enjoy all your favorite TV shows and movies, and on Roku devices, you can use the majority of the best streaming apps.
- Roku offers streaming devices for as little as $30 and as much as $100, so there should be a streamer in Roku’s lineup for every budget.
- Roku streaming devices aren’t all the same, though, so it’s worth taking the time to figure out which one is best for your needs.
- Below, we break down all the differences between Roku’s devices to help you choose, but if you want more buying advice, check out our guide to the prices for every Roku.
Cable TV is on the way out, and the new way to watch your favorite TV shows is through streaming. Whether it be on Netflix, Hulu, Amazon Prime, or even live TV streaming services like Sling TV, there are plenty of ways to enjoy great TV shows as long as you have a decent internet connection and a streaming device or smart TV.
Roku has been working on democratizing TV streaming for some time now with a slate of affordable, yet high-quality streaming devices. Recent devices include the high-end Roku Ultra and the much cheaper yet still capable Roku Express.
Of course, if you’re looking into a streaming device, then you might be wondering which Roku device is best for your needs. That, however, is why we’ve put together this guide. Here’s everything you need to know about Roku devices and the differences between them.
Roku streaming device prices and specs
Setup and software
The set-up process is pretty much the same across all Roku devices, and it’s incredibly easy. Generally, you’ll simply plug your Roku device into a power outlet and your TVs HDMI port, put the batteries in the remote, then follow the on-screen instructions.
You’ll be told to log in to a page on the Roku website and input a code, then log in to your Roku account or create a new one, and select which "channels" or apps, you want installed on your device. Simple.
The software experience is the same across all Roku devices, too, though there are a few small differences depending on whether or not you have access to voice control. We’ll talk a little more about voice control later, but the idea is that on some devices, you can control the Roku software with your voice, but cheaper ones don’t have that function.
Generally speaking, the set-up process and software should not inform your decision on which Roku device you should buy. Video quality, however, might.
The good news is that the majority of Roku devices now support 4K streaming with support for HDR10, meaning that if you have a relatively modern TV with a high resolution, you can take advantage of that cool tech with Roku. That said, there are a few exceptions to the rule in Roku’s modern lineup.
However the Roku Streaming Stick+ does support 4K. All of the other Roku devices, including the Roku Ultra, Roku Premiere, Roku Premiere+, and the aforementioned Roku Streaming Stick+, support 4K and HDR10.
If you want 4K and HDR10 support, there are a number of devices that will work for you. That said, even if your current TV doesn’t support 4K or HDR, we recommend buying a Roku device that does, as it will ensure that you can keep using your Roku after you upgrade your TV — despite the fact that next time you buy a TV it will probably have smart software included.
The remote is the main way in which you’ll interact with your Roku device, but thankfully, if you’ve used one Roku remote, you’ll easily be able to figure out how to use other Roku remotes.
Across most Roku devices, there are two main types of Roku remote that you’ll get: one with voice control and a microphone, and one without. The Roku Express, Roku Express+, and Roku Premiere all go without voice control features, while the Roku Premiere+, Roku Streaming Stick, Roku Streaming Stick+, and Roku Ultra all have voice control.
The Roku Ultra goes beyond just adding voice control and also includes another feature — gaming controls. On the Roku Ultra’s remote, you’ll get two extra buttons (A and B) that can be used to play basic games. Sure, it won’t be like playing on a PS4 or Nintendo Switch, but you will get decent entertainment with the Ultra’s remote.
Some remotes also allow you to control your TV’s power thanks to a built-in power button. This power button works through HDMI to control your TV as well as your Roku, meaning that you can use your Roku without necessarily having to use your TV’s remote. The Roku Premiere+, Roku Streaming Stick, Roku Streaming Stick+, and Roku Ultra all have power buttons.
One final small difference between remotes is the quick access buttons. Some have buttons that allow you to quickly launch Netflix, some Hulu, some Sling, and so on. Each remote offers four quick access buttons.
The biggest changes to Roku come with the different remote and the video quality, but there are still other minor differences between the devices, too. For example, the Roku Ultra offers slightly better Wi-Fi connectivity, as well as the ability to connect your system to other speakers and soundbars. This will be a big difference for many who want good sound-quality to match their good video quality. The Roku Ultra also offers an Ethernet port to ensure a constant internet connection. The Roku Express+ also offers an A/V composite port for older TVs that don’t have HDMI.
The last major difference between the Roku devices is price. Check out a list of retail pricing for the Roku lineup below.
- Roku Express: $29.99 from Roku or Amazon
- Roku Express+: $35 from Roku or Amazon
- Roku Premiere: $39.99 from Roku or Amazon
- Roku Premiere+: $49 from Roku or Amazon
- Roku Streaming Stick: $49.99 from Roku or Amazon
- Roku Streaming Stick+: $59.99 from Roku or Amazon
- Roku Ultra: $99.99 from Roku or Amazon
The Bottom Line
Roku’s lineup of streaming devices has a lot to offer, but they’re all a little different. If you want the best out there or need an optical port to connect your device to a sound system, then you’ll need the Roku Ultra. If, however, you don’t want to spend the cash on a Roku device, then we recommend getting a device with voice control and TV control, like the Roku Streaming Stick+.
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