Picking the right Roku streaming device for you and your TV

The way we watch TV has changed radically over the past decade. Cable and satellite services are steadily being replaced by myriad cord-cutting options, providing easier and wider access to every type of program you could wish for.

There are so many new platforms available to access viewing. Gone are the days of streaming your favourite shows only on your laptop and plugging it into your TV. Now you can choose between Smart TVs and streaming devices, each building in masses of functionality and choice—and apart from the remote on your coffee table, you won’t even know they’re there.

Why Roku?

Roku has been making waves in TV tech for over a decade. They provide simple, affordable options to access streaming services, including Prime Video, Netflix, Hulu, HBO, Showtime as well as their own channel.

But which device is right for you? Well, you’ll need to trade off the price against each device’s list of features. That said, even the top-end Roku isn’t expensive, given what you get for your money. Whichever one you choose, you won’t go far wrong with Roku.

The Roku 2020 Range

Across the full range of devices, you’ll find your 2020 Roku runs on a quad-core processor, delivering a minimum of 1080p HD viewing. You don’t need to worry about having too high a resolution device. Your Roku will automatically scale down its 4K devices to HD if that’s all your TV can handle.

Roku Express – US$29.99 | CA$39.99 | UK£29.99 | FR€34.95

  • 1080p HD quality with Dolby Audio and DTS
  • 802.11 b/g/n single-band wireless
  • Simple remote with channel shortcuts
  • HDMI connection

Roku Express+ – US$39.99

  • 1080p HD quality with Dolby Audio and DTS
  • 802.11 b/g/n single-band wireless
  • Voice remote with TV controls – voice search, plus TV on/off, volume, and mute
  • HDMI connection

Roku Premiere – US$39.99 | CA$49.99 | UK£39.99 | FR€44.95

  • 4K Ultra HD quality with HDR support and Dolby Audio and DTS
  • 802.11 b/g/n single-band wireless
  • Simple remote with channel shortcuts
  • HDCP 2.2 HDMI connection with 4K video

Roku Streaming Stick+ – US$49.99 | CA$69.99 | UK£49.99

  • 4K Ultra HD quality with HDR support and Dolby Audio and DTS
  • 802.11ac dual-band MIMO wireless
  • Voice remote with TV controls – voice search, plus TV on/off and volume
  • HDCP 2.2 HDMI connection with 4K video

Roku Streaming Stick HE – US$59.99

  • 4K Ultra HD quality with HDR support and Dolby Audio and DTS
  • 802.11ac dual-band MIMO wireless
  • Enhanced voice remote with TV controls – voice search, plus TV on/off, volume, and mute
  • Headphone jack in remote, plus headphones
  • HDCP 2.2 HDMI connection with 4K video

Roku Ultra LT – US$79.99

  • 4K Ultra HD quality with HDR support and Dolby Audio and DTS
  • 802.11ac dual-band MIMO wireless
  • Ethernet port
  • MicroSD slot
  • Enhanced voice remote with TV controls – voice search, plus TV on/off, volume, and mute
  • Headphone jack in remote plus headphones
  • HDCP 2.2 HDMI connection with 4K video

Roku Ultra – US$99.99

  • 4K Ultra HD quality with HDR support and Dolby Audio and DTS
  • 802.11ac dual-band MIMO wireless
  • Ethernet port
  • MicroSD slot
  • USB port
  • Enhanced voice remote with TV controls, personal shortcut buttons, remote finder, voice search, and TV on/off, volume, and mute
  • Headphone jack in remote, plus Premium JBL headphones
  • HDCP 2.2 HDMI connection with 4K video

We take the popular models head-to-head

Okay, the above list is a great indicator of the main features each device holds over another but given they sound somewhat similar, how they perform head-to-head and around each price-point is a different set of comparisons altogether.

Roku Express vs. Roku 4K options

The main differences between Roku’s basic Express models, featuring 1080p HD streaming, and those with 4K Ultra HD are just what you’d expect.

If you don’t own a 4K TV, then you’re wasting your money. If you do own a 4K TV, then depending on which device you choose, you’ll likely be quite happy with only an extra $10 you’ll have to part with to see the difference. Oh, as long as you subscribe to channels with 4K programming.

For those who aren’t already in the know, 4K Ultra HD has 4 times the amount of pixels on the screen, so it’s 4 times the quality of standard HD.

Roku Express vs. Roku Premiere

The Express and Premiere are almost the same product apart from the picture quality they deliver.

If you’re looking for more advanced features as well as the 4K resolution, there are a few other options to pick through.

If you’re looking for additional features for a standard HD TV Roku, and you think there’s only the Express+ to consider, that’s not necessarily true. The Express+ has a remote with voice control and basic operation of your TV (on/off, volume), but any of the more advanced Roku devices offer more and will work admirably on your HD TV, despite being designed to provide 4K viewing.

Roku Express Plus vs. Roku Streaming Stick

The Streaming Stick is slightly higher up the range so you’d expect it to win hands down. But what are you getting for your extra $10?

The original Streaming Stick didn’t support 4K but the latest model, the Streaming Stick+ does. Both the Express+ and Streaming Stick+ are powered by quad-core chips, yet the Streaming Stick+ operates on dual-band MIMO wireless, so you’d expect better delivery over the Express+ single-band hardware. The Streaming Stick+ offers 4 times the WiFi range of the Express+.

Roku Streaming Stick vs. Roku Streaming Stick Plus

The original Streaming Stick, first launched in 2012, didn’t have the same quad-core power the current Streaming Stick+ has, nor did it feature the 4K Ultra HD/HDR output. Still, as further upgrades were introduced, their processing power and resolution have advanced to the standards available today.

For the difference in price, it’s difficult to see why anyone would choose the previous issue Streaming Stick over the latest Streaming Stick+.

Whichever Roku you choose, you can’t go far wrong

It didn’t feel too long ago like we were comparing the Roku 2 vs. Roku 3 (UK and US release). Now, 5 years further down the line, we’re making comparisons from the ground floor Express model to the top-end Roku Ultra.

Roku continues to supply sensibly priced, efficient ways to stream heaps of quality viewing.

The Roku OS includes access to over 500,000 shows, and their mobile app adds functionality acting as an advanced remote for lower-priced models. Your phone becomes voice-operated with private listening for packages that only offer the standard remote and functions.

With StreamLocator integrating seamlessly with your Roku devices, we’d happily recommend any of them for excellent all-round access and viewing.

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