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Optimized for streaming 4K HDR content. Boasts Ethernet and USB connections as well as advanced wireless. The smart remote comes with voice control. Includes earbuds for private listening. Now AirPlay-capable.
More expensive than other Roku devices.
Roku’s old-school interface may not be for everyone, but it’s easy to connect to your TV and get the most out of the picture, sound, and more. The voice remote lets you turn the TV on, adjust the volume, and find something to watch with ease.
Some prefer the vast, modern convenience of Apple, Fire TV, and other competitors.
Have top-of-the-line TVs but want top-of-the-line entertainment? Roku’s simple interface is a hit with people jaded by overly-complex modern streaming sticks and services. The well-designed remote also keeps things simple.
You don’t get Roku’s lauded voice remote here. You cannot control the volume or TV functions with this option.
Supports 4K HDR streaming content. Can function as a Bluetooth speaker. Smart remote with voice control. Easy to set up. Connects to optional surround sound satellites and subwoofer. AirPlay-capable.
Bass is not as powerful as you might expect.
The sleek stick design discreetly hides the device behind your TV, while enabling 4K streaming for the best visual experience. The remote includes voice activation for several different features, including searching. Quick and efficient startup.
Some users had issues with the button placement on the included remote.
We recommend these products based on an intensive research process that's designed to cut through the noise and find the top products in this space. Guided by experts, we spend hours looking into the factors that matter, to bring you these selections.
If you’re looking for an easy and affordable way to explore and enjoy the world of streaming entertainment, there are few better choices than a Roku device. They easily connect to most TVs, they’re small, and they’re affordable. Roku boxes and streaming sticks can connect you to top streaming services like Netflix, Hulu, Disney+, Paramount+, Prime Video, HBO Max, and Apple TV+ as well as a slew of specialized channels.
Getting your TV via streaming used to be quite a bit cheaper than subscribing to a cable package. The costs have risen, with each streaming service charging for their content separately, but you can usually suspend, unsubscribe, and resubscribe to a streaming service quite easily. There’s plenty of free ad-supported programming available via streaming as well.
If you own an older Roku device, it might be worth upgrading to take advantage of newer features such as 4K compatibility and improved WiFi connectivity. Some models now come with the Roku Voice Remote Pro, which offers voice control, headphone jack, and rechargeable batteries — an update that, based on our testing, we recommend for every compatible Roku device. Roku even has soundbars that double as streaming devices.
We think the Roku Ultra is the top-of-the-line Roku device available. It offers 4K compatibility, the company’s best WiFi connectivity, its newest remote, and the ability to connect to a wired network. For 4K content and a voice-capable remote, the Roku Express 4K+ delivers a lot of value for the money.
The Roku Express is the basic Roku streaming box. It’s a small, unobtrusive device that sits near your TV and connects via an included HDMI cable. It streams video in HD resolution up to 1080p — suitable for any TV under 40 inches — and connects to the internet over WiFi.
With its small size and low cost, the Express is a great way to watch streaming channels or add streaming to a second or third TV.
In our testing, we found the Roku OS and interface, with its colorful grid of channels and viral-hit screensaver, easy to understand and navigate. We found the Roku remote, a small and comfortable device with far fewer buttons than many other remotes, to be simple yet powerful and easy to learn. The basic Roku remote that comes with the Express doesn’t have volume or channel controls, though, so it can’t control your TV like more advanced Roku remotes.
If you have a bigger TV, especially one with 4K resolution, you might consider the Roku Express 4K+. It’s a more advanced model than the Express that supports 4K content, which can show an image four times as sharp and detailed as 1080p. 4K resolution is becoming prevalent among TVs of 50-plus inches. And a lot of movies and TV shows on major streaming services like Disney+ and Paramount+ now come in 4K.
The Express 4K+ supports HDR10 (high dynamic range) picture quality. Like the Express, it supports dual-band WiFi (both 2.5 and 5 gigahertz WiFi bands) for fast and reliable connections, even with plenty of other devices. It comes with the Roku Voice Remote, which allows you to search for a program by simply saying your request. It also has buttons to control your TV so you don’t need multiple remotes.
Among Roku’s streaming devices, the Roku Ultra offers the most features. The most important of these is probably its Ethernet port. This allows the Roku Ultra to connect via an Ethernet cable to your internet router, providing connection speeds at the top range of what your setup can offer. Although WiFi is usually reliable, it’s still not as fast or stable as wired networking. However, Ultra’s WiFi also supports enhancements that make media streaming faster and more reliable than wireless.
Picture-wise, the Ultra supports 4K content with HDR10+ and the additional standard of Dolby Vision. It also supports Bluetooth for connecting wireless headphones or speakers, a USB port for playing your own media, and Dolby Atmos for 3D audio. It comes with the Roku Voice Remote Pro, which adds a headphone jack for wired headphones, customizable shortcut buttons, a rechargeable built-in battery, and a handy lost-remote finder.
While the Express and Ultra models are pretty small and lightweight, the Roku Streaming Stick goes one better: It’s 3.7 inches long and plugs directly into a TV’s HDMI port. Lacking a footprint, it’s practically invisible. It can even power itself from a USB port if there’s no wall socket handy.
The Streaming Stick 4K is super-portable and great for travel. It supports 4K video and HDR10+ and Dolby Vision standards for picture contrast and quality. What’s more, it boasts WiFi specially suited to long ranges and weak signals.
The Streaming Stick comes with the Roku Voice Remote so you can control your TV and use speech to search for movies and shows. The Streaming Stick 4K lacks Dolby Atmos or any way to connect speakers or headphones, though, so if you want to use headphones, you’ll have to use the Roku app. Still, its design and picture quality make it a great model to consider — especially for road warriors.
The Streaming Stick 4K+ is essentially the same as the Streaming Stick 4K with one big exception: Instead of the Voice Remote with TV controls, it has the advanced Voice Remote Pro used by the Ultra.
When it comes to Roku Streaming Sticks, the Voice Remote Pro shines by letting you plug wired headphones into the remote. Since neither Streaming Stick has audio output other than the Roku app and the HDMI connection to the TV, this ability sets the Streaming Stick 4K+ apart.
The Voice Remote Pro’s customizable one-button shortcuts and rechargeable battery make it more capable than the Voice Remote, and its lost-remote-finder function could come in handy when traveling, where the Streaming Stick family excels.
With all the advances in TV technology, sound is still often a stumbling block. The reason: TV speakers have been getting smaller to fit into flatter, thinner frames. People who want full sound tend to get external speakers like soundbars that can take advantage of more immersive audio technologies like Dolby Audio and DTS:X.
Roku’s Streambar is a soundbar with a Roku streaming device built into it. You don’t need a separate streaming box or stick. It has four 1.9-inch drivers for fuller sound than you’d get from a flatscreen TV, an optical port and cable for high-end audio connections separate from HDMI, and a USB port to play media from a USB drive.
As a streaming device, the Streambar is comparable to the Express 4K+. It has 4K resolution, HDR10, and the Voice Remote with TV controls – plus the optimized WiFi of the Roku Ultra. Its Bluetooth capability allows it to expand with Roku wireless satellite speakers and Roku’s wireless subwoofer, making it the hub of a complete wireless audio home theater setup.
The Streambar Pro is the bigger sibling of the Streambar. It has the same features and capabilities as the Streambar, including 4K video with HDR10, Dolby Audio, Bluetooth, USB and optical connections, and optimized WiFi.
But the Streambar Pro is bigger, and it has larger speaker drivers — a total of four 2.5-inch drivers that deliver a fuller sound than the smaller Streambar, especially in the bass frequencies. Both Streambars come with the Roku Voice Remote with TV controls. They don’t have the headphone jack that comes with the Voice Remote Pro, but their support for Bluetooth allows them to connect to wireless headphones for private listening.
The Streambar Pro is the priciest device Roku currently offers, but given its outstanding sound quality, you won’t miss a separate subwoofer or satellite speakers.
If you’re in the market for a TV, you have the choice of buying a TV with Roku’s streaming system built in. Roku TVs come from several affordable brands and use the Roku OS as a platform for all their functions, including live over-the-air TV, cable and the different inputs.
You do give up the ability to change Roku hardware often, and you might still want a Roku streaming stick for travel. But Roku TVs get software updates as frequently as standalone Roku devices do, and they’re extremely convenient for anyone who wants a low-cost, full-featured smart TV.
Other models, like the Express 4K, the Roku Premiere and Premiere Plus and the Ultra LT can still be found. But generally speaking, they’ve been replaced by the main models we’ve mentioned.
The Ultra LT shares a lot with the top-notch Ultra, especially its Ethernet port and internal specs, but it lacks a USB port and doesn’t come with the Voice Remote Pro. If you know you don’t need those capabilities, it may be worth saving $20 over the Ultra.
After researching what each Roku device offers, we tested the Roku Streaming Stick 4K+ to see how it did in the following areas.
A. The Amazon Firestick resembles the Roku Streaming Stick in many ways, and both make it easy to add streaming capability to your TV. We found in our testing of a Roku streaming stick that the Roku’s interface was easier to use than the Firestick, with a lot less advertising. What’s more, the Roku platform has thousands of available channels, whereas the Firestick has several hundred.
A. Having a Roku account is free, as is viewing Roku’s free channels like Pluto TV and its own Roku Channel. However, you would have to pay separate subscription fees to access popular streaming channels such as Netflix, Hulu, Disney+, Paramount+, HBO Max, Sling TV, Prime Video, and Apple TV+.
A. The main U.S. television networks — ABC, NBC, and CBS — don’t have their standard programming on Roku. Instead, you can access them via cable or for free over the air with an antenna.
The networks do have free streaming news channels, including local news, on the Roku Channel and other free services like Pluto TV. Many of their shows are also available on their related streaming channels, Disney+, Peacock, and Paramount+ as well as Hulu. However, those usually require subscription fees.
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