Roku streaming devices review: Finding the best Roku device for you

Roku is the top-selling brand of streaming devices in the U.S. surpassing its closest competitors in sales by more than double. What sets Roku apart from Amazon’s Fire TV Stick and Google Chromecast is the variety of its devices. Roku’s software runs in over 41 million devices across the U.S. and is built into the operating system of major smart TV brands such as Philips US, TCL and JVC. 

Roku devices differ from one another in price tiers. These devices include Roku Express, Roku Express+, Roku Premiere, Roku Streaming Stick+, Roku Streaming Stick+ HE, Roku Ultra LT and Roku Ultra. The Express models are the most affordable, while the Streaming Stick+ is the best mid-tier model and Ultra provides an elite experience.

Here are the best Roku devices based on your needs:

  1. Roku Express – Most affordable
  2. Roku Express+ – Best for older TVs
  3. Roku Premiere – 4k with minimal features
  4. Roku Streaming Stick+ – Best value
  5. Roku Streaming Stick+ HE – Upgraded headset
  6. Roku Ultra LT – Affordable premium option
  7. Roku Ultra – Ultimate premium product

Compare streaming devices

Roku offers a side-by-side tool to compare its products by key features so you can see which will suit you best. 

Roku Express Roku Express+Roku PremiereRoku Streaming Stick+ Roku Streaming Stick+ HERoku Ultra LTRoku Ultra
Price$29.99 $39.99 $39.99 $49.99 $59.99$79.99$99.99
Device styleSet-top boxSet-top boxSet-top boxStickStickWireless boxWireless box
Size1.4 x 3.3 x 0.7 inches1.4 x 3.3 x 0.7 inches1.4 x 3.3 x 0.7 inches3.7 x 0.8 x 0.47 inches3.7 x 0.8 x 0.47 inches4.9 x 4.9 x 0.8 inches4.9 x 4.9 x 0.85 inches
Compatibility1080p HD1080p HD (A/V composite port)1080p HD, 4K Ultra HD and HDR1080p HD, 4K Ultra HD and HDR1080p 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+500,000+500,000+500,000+500,000+
Voice search capabilityNoNoNoYesYesYesYes

Picking the right Roku streaming device for you

When deciding which Roku product is for you, it’s important to consider your TV, must-have features and your wallet.

Which is the best Roku device for you? 

Most affordable: Roku Express

The Express is a bare-bones model with infrared communication instead of Wi-Fi and works best with standard HDTV. The device includes a small box that you’re able to connect to your TV with an HDMI cable, as well as a remote that It’s the cheapest of all the Roku devices, at a price point of $29.99

Best for older TVs: Roku Express+

If you have an older TV that doesn’t have HDMI ports, the Express + will work for you. It’s an exact replica of the Express, except it also allows you to connect a composite cable. This Roku device costs $39.99.

4K with minimal features: Roku Premiere

The Premiere functions much like the Express, with a small box that only connects to an HDMI cable, plus a remote, but this device works with high-resolution 4K TVs. It costs $39.99 for a Roku device with that 4k capability.

Best value: Roku Streaming Stick+

The Streaming Stick+ is not a box, but instead is a small stick that easily plugs into the HDMI port of your TV. It’s Wi-Fi operated, so it doesn’t need to be visible to your remote to work. It uses voice controls and supports 4K and HDR streaming. This device costs $49.99.

Upgraded headset: Roku Streaming Stick+ HE

This model is just like the Streaming Stick+ but has a headphone jack in the remote and includes headphones. It costs $59.99.

Ultimate premium product: Roku Ultra

The Ultra is the ultimate Roku device that accommodates all of your streaming needs. It incorporates all features of previous models while including microSD and USB ports for extra storage, a port for an Ethernet cable, buttons on the remote for gaming and comes with JBL earbuds. This device is the most expensive of the Roku devices, coming in at $99.99.

Affordable premium option: Roku Ultra LT

A scaled-back version of the Ultra with no USB port, programmable buttons or a button on the box to find your remote. It also costs less than the Roku Ultra, with a cost of $79.99.

Roku streaming services and apps

What is Roku TV? With your Roku remote you have access to all your favorite apps, subscriptions and broadcasting networks. 

How does Roku work? The Roku app comes with a free Roku channel, but it can also tap into your home’s antenna for live local broadcasting such as news and sports. Of course, you’re able to access premium subscriptions like Amazon Prime, ESPN+, Hulu Live TV, Disney+, Sling TV and YouTube TV. Or download your favorite broadcast channels like ABC, CBS, FOX and NBC to keep all your favorite channels in one place. 

The takeaway

Roku devices transform how you watch TV but with its various tiers, finding the device for you can prove tricky. If you’re searching for a high-definition 4K experience with voice command, the Streaming Stick+ is the perfect product for value. But if you require the ultimate experience with added storage and optimal remote functionality, the Ultra may be the right fit. 

Zack Kulm

Zack Kulm is a writer and contributor of soda.com. He covers a variety of topics from entertainment and gaming technologies to pop culture commentary. Kulm received a degree in English from Penn State University and Film Studies from Pittsburgh Filmmakers Institute. He also produces award-winning documentaries.