Roku Premiere vs. Roku Ultra (& Ultra LT)

Roku has a range of 4K streaming devices that are modestly-priced while offering solid performance. Among these, the Roku Premiere stands out as the most affordable 4K option among Roku players. But although the Ultra range costs slightly more, it packs a powerful punch with premium features that you won’t get with the Roku Premiere, such as voice search capabilities. You can also check out our review of different Roku streaming devices for other options besides these.

So the right device for you will mainly depend on whether you just want a cheap 4K streaming device or you want something that gives you an enhanced user experience. This post takes an in-depth look at the Roku Premiere vs. Roku Ultra and Ultra LT comparison so you can see which option is right for you.

To learn more about these two streaming devices, visit our Roku Premiere review and our Roku Ultra review.

Compare Roku Premiere vs. Roku Ultra plans

Roku PremiereRoku UltraRoku Ultra LT
Price$39.99$99.99$79.99
Device styleSet-top boxSet-top boxSet-top box
Size1.4 X 3.3 X 0.7 inches4.92 X 4.92 X 0.83 inches4 X 4 X 0.80 inches
Compatibility1080p Full HD, 4K Ultra HD and HDR1080p HD, 4K Ultra HD and HDR1080p HD, 4K Ultra HD and HDR
TV episodes + movies available500,000+500,000+500,000+
Voice search capabilityNoYesYes

Which streaming device is right for you?

Although the three devices essentially support the same picture quality, the Roku Premiere falls behind in overall streaming experience due to other factors such as connectivity and premium features. At the same time, it’s highly affordable and one of the few devices that offer 4K streaming for under $40. Check out our pricing guide on Roku devices to learn more about this.

So the Roku Premiere might be right for you if you just want a 4K streaming media player but don’t want to spend too much. But if you need something that offers impressive performance and premium features, go for the Roku Ultra or the Ultra LT. Let’s take a detailed look at the Roku Premiere vs. Ultra comparison to help you figure out how they stack up against each other.

User experience

Roku Premiere

Running on the Roku OS, the Roku Premiere offers a solid user experience with a clean and straightforward layout. Even novice users can easily understand and navigate the device layout without much trouble. On the home screen, you don’t have any first-party ads taking up the entire space. Instead, you get to see all the “channels” installed on your device so you can instantly fire up the app you want to use.

The best part is that Roku lets you customize this screen to highlight your top apps. This makes it even easier to use the device as you don’t have to go through multiple screens to start streaming on your favorite apps.

Roku Ultra

Like with the Roku Premiere, the Roku Ultra and Ultra LT also offer a minimal and straightforward user interface. The user experience is pretty standard across all Roku devices. So even with the Ultra and Ultra LT, you’ll have the option to access installed apps right from your home screen. And you even get to customize this to put your favorite apps front and center.

Processing power

Roku Premiere

Updated Roku Premiere models now come with a quad-core processor, significantly speeding up performance. So you can seamlessly navigate through apps and switch between channels.

Roku Ultra

Both the Roku Ultra and the Ultra LT come with a powerful quad-core processor to allow smooth navigation. You should be able to switch between channels or perform various tasks with minimal hiccups.

Casting, sharing, mirroring

Roku Premiere

Like with most Roku devices, the Roku Premiere allows screen mirroring with your Android or Windows device. While the option is unavailable for iOS devices, you can still use the casting option to cast content from your phone or tablet to your Roku Premiere. And you can even use the Play on Roku feature on the mobile app to share personal photos and videos from your phone to your Roku.

Roku Ultra

The Roku Ultra and Ultra LT also let you mirror the screen of your Android or Windows device. And you have the option to cast videos from your phone or tablet to your TV using these Roku players. Plus, the Play on Roku feature on the phone app will let you share photos and videos from your mobile or tablet to your Roku Ultra or Ultra LT.

Audio and video quality

Roku Premiere

When it comes to audio and video quality, the Roku Premiere holds its own against some of the high-end Roku models, such as Roku Ultra. It supports streaming in 1080p Full HD, 4K Ultra HD (high-definition) and HDR (high-dynamic range) with a suitable display. This makes it one of the least expensive 4K UHD HDR streaming devices out there.

It also supports DTS Digital Surround and Dolby Atmos pass-through. So you get to experience an immersive streaming experience with impressive audio.

Roku Ultra

Both the Roku Ultra and Ultra LT will let you stream in 1080p Full HD, 4K Ultra HD and HDR with a suitable display. This means you get brilliant picture quality with crisp and clear images and vivid colors, taking your streaming experience to a different level. Plus, you can get remarkable audio with Dolby Atmos and DTS Digital Surround pass-through, giving you an even more immersive streaming experience.

Remote control

Roku Premiere

The Roku Premiere comes with a standard Roku remote, which has pre-programmed channel shortcuts. It doesn’t have voice search capabilities, making it slightly less convenient than the Roku Ultra range. Plus, the controls are only limited to the Roku player, and the remote doesn’t have the capability to perform even basic tasks on your TV.

Roku Ultra

The Roku Ultra and Ultra LT stand out when it comes to remote control options. Both devices come with an enhanced, voice-enabled remote. So you can easily use voice commands to search for something to watch or start streaming your favorite show. Both remotes also come with a built-in headphone jack and a set of headphones so you can enjoy private listening straight out of the box.

With each remote, you get pre-programmed channel shortcut buttons. And the Ultra remote even comes with additional programmable buttons that you can customize according to your needs. Plus, they each come with basic TV controls, allowing you to use the same remote to change the volume, mute or even power up or turn off your TV.

Value

Roku Premiere

Offering 4K UHD HDR streaming for just $39.99, the Roku Premiere gives you great value for money. It doesn’t do too badly in terms of processing speed, although its wireless connectivity is much less powerful than that of the Roku Ultra range of devices. Even then, you still get your money’s worth in terms of overall performance.

Roku Ultra

The Roku Ultra costs a lot more than the Roku Premiere, although some may find the premium features worth paying extra for. Even the budget-friendly version costs $30 more than the Premiere while offering just a few additional features. So the Premiere offers much better value considering all this.

Disadvantages

Roku Premiere

The wireless connectivity of the Roku Premiere isn’t as powerful as that of the Roku Ultra range of devices. Even the most updated models only have single-band wireless, so you’ll get slower connectivity compared to the Roku Ultra and the Ultra LT.

In addition to this, the lack of voice search capabilities can be another drawback for some users as it can be slightly inconvenient to press through so many screens to get to where you need to be.

On top of this, you won’t have any option to expand the storage on your Roku Premiere. This might make it slightly challenging to record live games or save your favorite shows for offline viewing. The Roku Ultra, on the other hand, comes with a microSD card slot to expand your storage and even has a USB port that allows local playback. With the Roku Ultra LT, you don’t get the additional USB port, but you still have the option to expand your storage with a microSD card slot.

Roku Ultra

Cost is the main disadvantage of the Roku Ultra and the Ultra LT. Even the more affordable model, the Ultra LT, costs $30 more than the Roku Premiere. This is a steep hike, especially considering how they offer the same processing speed.

At the same time, these devices still offer good value for money since they use a more powerful, dual-band wireless to allow seamless streaming. And they also come with some good-to-have features like storage expansion and voice search capabilities.

Our hot take

Both the Roku Premiere and the Roku Ultra offer solid performance and excellent picture quality. So they each make a great purchase depending on what’s important to you. If you just need something that offers 4K HDR streaming but don’t mind the lack of voice controls and expandable storage, the Roku Premiere gives you the best value for money.

But if you like having the option to use voice search features or expand your device storage, the Roku Ultra would be a great choice. With this, you also get more powerful wireless hardware to allow seamless streaming. And you even have the option to get an affordable alternative with the Ultra LT, which delivers similar performance as the Ultra but lacks a few features like programmable shortcut buttons and local playback through USB.

Jacqueline Zote

Jacqueline Zote is a digital marketing and entertainment writer who makes regular contributions to Sprout Social and Recreation Insider. Her interests range from pop culture and mythology to social activism. When she’s not writing, she goes on food adventures and binges on crime drama. Her short fiction has been published by HarperCollins Publishers and Zubaan Books.