In a world where no one pays for cable anymore, streaming players are king. Roku is one of the most popular brands out there for streaming devices, and the company has made huge strides in what it offers since the first Roku Streaming Player was released way back in 2008.
However, because the company offers so many unique options, it’s hard to know which Roku model you should buy. We’ll explain the major and minor differences between Roku’s offerings and help you decide which streaming player is right for you.
What All Roku Devices Offer
With all of Roku’s devices, you’ll be able to make the most of the Roku mobile app. For example, you get automatic software updates, a “Stream Big, Stream Green” environmental promise, and private listening capabilities. Each device is also compatible with Apple AirPlay, Apple Home, Google Home, and Amazon Alexa.
Retailing at $29.99, Roku’s Express device is the most affordable device the company offers. With the Roku Express, you’ll get access to tons of free, live, and premium HD content, some of which comes via separate apps that may require paid subscriptions. Among the content, there are over 300 free live TV channels and original movies and shows on The Roku Channel.
After connecting the Roku Express to your TV, you can customize the home screen, putting your favorite and most-used channels front and center. Again, controlling your TV can be done through the Roku mobile app or with the included remote with simple buttons and shortcuts to popular channels.
For just $10 more, there’s the Express 4K+ device, which delivers content in vivid 4K resolution with HDR10+ instead of just HD on the regular Roku Express. This slight difference in price is even more meaningful with the included Voice Remote, which lets you use voice commands to control the TV. Any of these Express devices are great for new Roku users.
Roku Streaming Stick 4K and 4K+
If you want a cord-free setup that’s designed to hide behind your TV, the Streaming Stick from Roku is perfect, whether you get the 4K version or the 4K+ version.
Roku’s 4K Streaming Stick retails for $49.99 and lets you stream a huge collection of free, live and premium TV content within minutes of unboxing it. All you have to do is plug it into your TV, connect it to your Wi-Fi network, and start streaming. And with its redesigned long-range Wi-Fi receiver, you can stream content up to twice as fast in rooms that are far from your router.
As is the case with any streamed video content, picture quality is important. As the device names suggest, Roku’s Streaming Stick 4K and 4K+ feature a 4K picture that’s sharp and vivid, powered with Dolby Vision and HDR10+.
The remote control is the biggest difference between the 4K Streaming Stick and the 4K+ Streaming Stick and the reason for the $20 price increase.
The 4K version has a voice remote that lets you control the TV with physical buttons or your voice. The 4K+ comes with Roku’s Voice Remote Pro, which has the same controls as other remotes, but is also rechargeable and has a headphone jack for private listening, personalized shortcut buttons, and a lost remote finder feature.
The Roku Ultra is the company’s fastest, most powerful streaming device. Retailing at $99.99, the Roku Ultra is powered by a quad-core processor, which allows for a snappy user interface and channels launching within seconds. Although you can stream over Wi-Fi fast enough, you can wire up with Ethernet for an even faster connection.
You can stream content from Roku’s selection of free, live and premium TV channels, including many free originals, on the Roku Channel. As long as you have a compatible 4K-capable TV, your content will appear bright and clear with 4K resolution, Dolby Vision, and HDR10+. Plus, the Roku Ultra also comes equipped with Dolby Atmos audio technology, or you can listen through Bluetooth headphones and Roku’s private listening feature.
Unsurprisingly, Roku pairs its best remote—the Voice Remote Pro—with its fastest streaming device. The remote also has a Micro-USB port for its rechargeable battery, hands-free voice control, a headphone jack for connecting wired headphones, Bluetooth for connecting wireless headphones, and a lost remote finder feature. You can also set up personal shortcuts on the remote for your favorite channels.
Roku Streambar and Streambar Pro
If you’re looking for a streaming stick and a soundbar to enhance your TV setup, Roku’s Streambar and Streambar Pro combine those two devices into one. You’ll be able to stream all the free, live, and premium 4K TV content that Roku has to offer, as well as upgrade your sound quality.
Both the Streambar and Streambar Pro are equipped with Bluetooth technology, so you can use the speaker to get clear dialogue in movies and TV shows or to fill the room with your favorite songs.