If you’re on the lookout for low-cost streaming media players, some of the affordable Roku devices may be just what you need. The Roku Express and the Roku Premiere are among the most powerful streaming devices under $50. So they make an excellent purchase for anyone who needs a solid yet low-cost streaming device.
The biggest dilemma lies in whether to choose Roku Express vs. Roku Premiere. While both devices pack a punch, Roku Premiere lets you stream in 4K UHD (ultra high definition), and Roku Express only supports HD (high-definition) streaming. At the same time, the Roku Premiere costs a little more than the Roku Express. So the right choice really depends on what matters to you — streaming quality or cost.
In this post, we take a closer look at the Roku Express vs. Premiere comparison to see which device would be right for you. You can also check out our Roku Express review and Roku Premiere review to get more in-depth information about the two devices.
Compare Roku Express vs. Roku Premiere plans
|Roku Express||Roku Premiere|
|Device style||Set-top box||Set-top box|
|Size||1.5 X 3.0 X 0.75 inches||1.4 X 3.3 X 0.7 inches|
|Compatibility||1080p Full HD||1080p Full HD, 4K Ultra HD, HDR|
|TV episodes + movies available||500,000+||500,000+|
|Voice search capability||No||No|
Which streaming device is right for you?
The Roku Express and the Roku Premiere have many similarities in terms of design and pricing. But the $10 difference has a significant impact on performance, particularly on streaming quality and processing speed. So it’s mainly about whether you’re willing to spend the extra $10 for more premium features or you just want the most affordable option available.
As it runs on the Roku Operating System (OS), the Roku Express offers a clean and straightforward interface that’s easy to navigate. You won’t see any of the clutter from first-party content ads, unlike with Amazon Fire devices. Instead, you can freely customize your home screen to highlight your top apps and easily access them.
Like the Roku Express, the Roku Premiere also runs on Roku OS. So its interface is minimal and easy to navigate with minimal clutter. You have the option to personalize your home screen and put your favorite apps front and center for easy access.
The Roku Express doesn’t use a quad-core processor, so it works slightly slower than the Roku Premiere. At the same time, it still delivers a solid performance and supports smooth navigation between apps.
With a quad-core processor, the Roku Premiere allows a seamless transition between apps and tasks. The device will let you quickly switch to a different channel or perform an urgent task with minimal hang-ups.
Casting, sharing, mirroring
The Roku Express is one of the only Roku players that don’t have screen mirroring capabilities, even with Android and Windows devices. But you can cast from your Android or iOS device to your Roku Express. Plus, you have the option to share personal content from your mobile or tablet devices to your Roku Express using the phone app’s Play on Roku feature.
The Roku Premiere can mirror the screen on your Android and Windows devices. But you won’t get this option for iOS devices. Alternatively, you can also cast content from your Android or iOS device to the Roku Premiere. And it even supports content sharing from your mobile or tablet using the Play on Roku feature on the phone app.
Audio and video quality
With 1080p full HD support, the Roku Express offers solid picture quality. Though not as crisp or as vibrant as 4K, this is still decent considering the low cost. Plus, it supports DTS Digital Surround and Dolby Atmos with the right output device, ensuring an immersive audio experience.
Allowing up to 4K UHD HDR (high-dynamic range) streaming, Roku Premiere is one of the most affordable devices that support such powerful picture quality. This gives you brilliant and vivid images so you can fully enjoy your favorite shows. It also supports DTS Digital Surround and Dolby Atmos, which gives you impressive audio quality for an immersive streaming experience.
The Roku Express comes with a standard remote that has built-in channel shortcut buttons. This remote isn’t voice-enabled, so you won’t be able to use voice commands to perform searches. Plus, you won’t have the option to personalize the shortcut buttons based on which channels you watch the most.
Like the Roku Express, the Roku Premiere also comes with the same standard remote that has no voice search capabilities. And you can’t program the shortcut buttons to take you to your favorite channels.
At just $29.99, the Roku Express is one of the most affordable streaming media players in the market. And it still offers solid performance and decent streaming quality, which is more than enough if affordability is your biggest concern.
Among the two devices, the Roku Premiere offers better value since it lets you stream in 4K UHD HDR and offers faster processing power for just $10 more. So if you’re looking for an affordable streaming media player that supports 4K display, this is just what you need.
The Roku Express lacks a few features that you get with the Roku Premiere. For starters, it only supports up to 1080p streaming, which might not be enough for some. And it works slightly slower since it doesn’t use a quad-core processor. Plus, it doesn’t come with screen mirroring capabilities, even with Android and Windows devices.
While the Roku Premiere doesn’t have too many drawbacks, the lack of voice search capabilities may be slightly inconvenient for some. And the remote doesn’t come with a headphone jack for private listening.
Our hot take
Both the Roku Express and the Roku Premiere offer solid performance for an impressively low price tag. At the same time, the Roku Premiere gives you much better value with 4K UHD streaming and faster processing speed. But the Roku Express still makes sense if you just need something that does the job and doesn’t cost more than $30.
So the right choice for you depends on whether you value performance over affordability or vice versa. You can also check out our review of different Roku devices if you’d like to expand your options.