Roku provides a range of digital media devices that enable viewers to stream their favorite movies, music and TV shows on their TV. Its selection of streaming boxes, hubs and sticks vary in feature sets, price and size. This Roku streaming devices review will explore the free trials, packages and pricing available with the company’s products. More information about Roku can be found in our Roku review.
How does Roku work?
Roku enables people to watch movies and TV shows and listen to music from the comfort of their own homes with a range of streaming devices. These go from budget-friendly set-top boxes that provide high-definition, quality streaming to high-end 4K media hubs, meaning there is something for everyone in Roku’s device selection.
Roku devices work by either being connected to the main power or via a USB cable. Most Roku devices can then be hooked up to the user’s TV set via an HDMI cable, but streaming sticks need to be plugged directly into the TV’s HDMI input. The devices then need to be connected to the user’s Wi-Fi network or, if applicable, via an Ethernet cable and are controlled with a remote.
Once set up, Roku devices give users a choice of thousands of popular streaming apps through the Roku Channel Store. This includes on-demand services like Amazon Prime Video, Disney+, Hulu, Netflix and Starz, live streaming channels like fuboTV, Hulu + Live TV, Philo and Sling TV and music streaming services like Amazon Music, Deezer and Spotify.
How much do Roku products cost?
Roku prices vary across the company’s product selection. Roku’s has everything from entry-level high-definition (HD) enabled media players to a high-end media hub. Products from Roku start at $29.99 and go up to $99.99.
Roku Express (from $29.99)
Roku’s entry-level offering is great for people who are new to streaming and want an affordable device to get started. The HD capable set-top box comes with a high-speed HDMI cable that connects it to the TV. It is powered by a USB cable and comes with a simple-to-use remote control. Helpfully, it also comes with a piece of sticky tape for users to store it discreetly under their TV set.
Roku Express+ (from $39.99)
This device provides a slight upgrade on Roku Express. It can be plugged into the main power and works with voice-enabled devices like Amazon Alexa and Google Assistant. Roku Express+ also provides legacy standard-definition (SD) support through composite video, plus all the same features as Roku Express.
Roku Premiere (from $39.99)
Roku Premiere provides a more powerful performance than Roku Express devices and ups viewers’ video quality to 4K. Also a set-top box, the device connects to the user’s TV with a premium high-speed HDMI cable that enhances viewing quality.
Roku Premiere+ (from $49.99)
This device comes with all the same features as Roku Premiere, but ups users’ streaming experience with a voice-powered remote. This enables users to change channels, start watching a movie or play their favorite song without lifting a finger.
Roku Streaming Stick (from $49.99)
Roku Streaming Stick plugs directly into the HDMI port of the user’s TV set, unlike Roku Express and Premiere models that must be connected with an HDMI cable. It can be powered by plugging it into an electrical socket or via a USB cable. Roku Streaming Stick enables users to stream content in up to 1080p HD video quality. It comes with 802.11ac dual-band MIMO wireless connectivity, which offers four times stronger range than Roku Express and Premiere devices. It also features voice control capability that enables users to manage the power and volume controls on their TV and search for content.
Roku Streaming Stick+ (from $59.99)
The key difference between Roku Streaming Stick+ and the regular stick is that this device enhances viewers’ video quality to 4K and HDR10. Roku Streaming Stick+ offers high-performance, smooth streaming experiences and advanced wireless connectivity.
Roku Ultra (from $99.99)
Roku’s high-end streaming device must be plugged into an electrical socket and connected to the user’s TV via an HDMI capable. It offers Roku’s most powerful video processing and is designed for ultimate 4K video streaming experiences. The box can either be connected to the user’s Wi-Fi network or via an Ethernet cable, which is perfect for guaranteeing the internet speeds required for 4K streaming. Users can also stream their own music and video via Roku Ultra’s USB and microSD ports. The device comes with an advanced remote control that enables users to play games using A and B buttons and enjoy their content in private through a headphone jack.
Roku TV (from $129.99)
Roku is increasingly expanding into the TV market by providing its software to major manufacturers like HiSense and Sharp. These manufacturers use Roku’s technology to power their smart TVs, which enable users to access their favorite movies, music and TV shows without having to connect a streaming device.
Roku’s venture into smart TVs is helping streamers to access internet-connected TV at a much lower price point than previously possible. It provides the same platform and Roku Channel Store as the company’s streaming devices — all built directly into the TV itself. Most new Roku TVs now support 4K and Dolby Vision HDR.
How do Roku devices compare?
There are many streaming devices now available on the market, so we will explore how Roku’s product range stacks up against those of its competitors.
Roku vs. Apple TV
Roku’s devices are designed to be easy to set up and get users streaming their favorite content as quickly as possible. They are also fairly affordable, starting at just $29.99 and the most expensive device costing $99.99. Apple TV, on the other hand, is geared towards iOS aficionados and starts at $179.99 — nearly double the price point of Roku’s most expensive option.
Apple TV and the Apple TV 4K are high-end streaming set-top boxes that provide great viewing experiences and wireless connectivity. They also benefit from compatibility with other Apple devices and features like AirPlay 2 and Movies Anywhere With iTunes. They also provide users with 32GB or 64GB of storage space.
Roku vs. Google Chromecast
Whereas Roku devices are connected to a user’s TV and powered by remote control, Google Chromecast enables them to cast their mobile device to their TV. The device is connected to the main power, plugged into the TV’s HDMI port and transforms the user’s phone or tablet into a remote control. They can then use Chromecast to cast their preferred streaming services’ apps to their TV. The two devices enable users to watch movies and shows from their favorite entertainment services, although Roku makes it easier to watch directly on their TV.
Roku vs. Amazon Fire TV Stick
The Amazon Fire TV Stick is a streaming stick that plugs directly into a user’s TV, which is not dissimilar to Roku’s Streaming Stick. It also enables users to watch all their favorite streaming services, such as Disney+, Hulu and Netflix, in addition to Amazon’s own Prime Video. Furthermore, Fire Stick 4K enables the highest video quality, just like Roku Streaming Stick+. But Fire Stick 4K’s price of $49.99 is $10 less than Roku Streaming Stick+.
Roku generally has the edge with its sticks’ interface, search and simple usability features. An advantage in Amazon Fire TV Stick’s favor is its inclusion of Dolby Vision HDR. While the Amazon devices also benefit from Alexa capabilities that enable them to do much more than stream content, such as checking the weather, dimming lights and viewing live camera feeds.
In terms of content, Roku and Amazon both enable users to access near enough any streaming service imaginable. However, one advantage in Roku’s favor is the inclusion of digital rental stores Google Play Movies and Vudu on its Channel Store, which are absent from Amazon Fire TV. Although Amazon users can also rent titles through its Movies Anywhere feature.
Roku TV vs. Amazon Fire TV
Roku has the edge for users looking for a TV that has the streaming features built-in rather than a connecting device. Roku TVs bring the simple excellence of its platform to smart TVs manufactured by the likes of Hisense, Onn, TCL, RCA and Sharp. The company’s technology can be found in high-end 75-inch, 4K HDR TVs at a relatively low price point. Amazon’s Fire TV software is limited to TV sets from Insignia and Toshiba that come with narrow screen sizes and limited features.
Are there any deals with Roku?
Roku provides a range of deals on its devices, which tend to be seasonal for dates like Christmas and Easter, as well as big shopping events like Black Friday, Father’s Day and Mother’s Day. Current device deals include $10 off Roku Premiere and $10 off Roku Streaming Stick+. The company also offers free trials for entertainment services like Amazon Prime Video, Netflix and Philo when users add them to their Roku device. Customers can also get discounts on Roku TVs through popular online stores like Amazon and BestBuy.
Roku’s range of devices are perfect for people looking for an affordable, but high-quality entry into the streaming market. Its devices enable users to watch all their favorite movies and shows and play their favorite music and games in HD and 4K video resolution. Starting from just $29.99, Roku streaming devices include a solid range of options for people looking to enhance their home entertainment options.