Roku is one of the leading manufacturer of streaming devices in a market crowded with entries from, and . While those companies offer their own , in our reviews against the competition for their , excellent performance and affordable pricing.
The company recently updated its high-endwhich now includes the excellent . While the Ultra may be a good fit for some, the company offers a range of other devices including the basic Express, as well as the midrange and — not to mention and .
Our guide to the best Roku will help you figure out how to pick the right model for your needs and budget.
The Express 4K Plus is one of the cheapest streaming TV options with 4K HDR. (Even if your current TV doesn’t support those formats, your next one probably will.) Thanks to the AirPlay update, this Roku device is one of the least expensive ways to connect your iPhone or other Apple device to your TV. It lacks Dolby Vision support, but we think most people will be fine without that.
This Roku streaming device is normally cheaper than the company’s Streaming Stick 4K and other 4K HDR streamers, so it’s usually our top Roku pick. It’s a great choice for those looking to get the most out of streaming without breaking the bank. Roku Express works with popular voice assistants Alexa, Siri and Google Assistant.
Read our Express 4K Plus review.
The successor to 2017’s Streaming Stick Plus, after years of waiting Roku finally gave the streamer an upgrade in 2021 with the Streaming Stick 4K. This Roku remains affordable, supports 4K HDR (and Dolby Vision) and takes advantage of the latest Roku features, including Apple AirPlay for casting from an iOS or Mac device.
Normally we don’t think it’s worth more than the Express 4K Plus, but if you prefer the streaming stick design — or really want Dolby Vision support — it is a very good choice.
Read our Streaming Stick 4K review.
Roku’s most expensive streaming box is more than twice the price of our top streaming device pick, but maybe you’ll appreciate its extra features enough to want the upgrade. The 2022 model still costs $100 and is nearly identical to previous versions, except it now comes bundled with the Voice Remote Pro.
But if you really love the remote and want to save a little money, you could try Roku’s other bundle, the $70 Roku Streaming Stick 4K Plus, which also includes the Voice Remote Pro. The Streaming Stick 4K’s processor isn’t quite as beefy as the Ultra’s, but it can do nearly all the same tricks such as Dolby Vision HDR, and it costs $30 less than the 2022 Ultra.
Otherwise, the Ultra continues to deliver Dolby Vision video, faster responses than the Streaming Stick 4K, improved Wi-Fi and a wired Ethernet port — particularly welcome if your home Wi-Fi is overloaded.
Read our Roku Ultra (2022) review.
We tend to like the Amazon Fire TV Stick Lite best in the budget category, as it offers more features-for-the-money — including a remote with built-in voice search and control powered by Alexa.
But if you want the cheapest Roku, the Express is the company’s most basic model, and it keeps things simple. It can use all the apps on Roku’s platform, but streams are limited to HD (not 4K) and the Roku TV remote is the bare-bones IR option that lacks Roku remote voice controls and requires you to point at the tiny box. It’s not a flashy Roku model, but it gets the job done and comes with everything you might need (including an HDMI cable) in the box.
Read our Roku Express (2019) review.
Looking for an audio upgrade as well as a new Roku? Check out the Streambar. This compact soundbar plugs into your TV’s HDMI ARC port, improving the sound for all of your sources from cable boxes to game consoles. The best part of this Roku player is that it’s also a 4K HDR-capable Roku streamer itself. We’ve found the Streambar easy to set up, and it sounds good for the size, particularly with dialogue. If you want stronger bass, however, consider adding Roku’s wireless subwoofer ($180).
Read our Roku Streambar review.
The Voice Remote Pro isn’t a streaming service player, but it can give your Roku streaming device a nice boost. The Voice Remote Pro adds new features like a rechargeable battery and a 12-foot midfield microphone. The latter is particularly useful: You can say, “Hey Roku, find my remote,” and the device will beep so you can find it if it’s lost under the couch cushions.
It now comes bundled with the 2022 Roku Ultra, but can be purchased separately and paired with any compatible Roku device.
Read our Voice Remote Pro review.
How we test Roku devices
Every Roku we review receives hours of hands-on testing. Typically, this involves installing the device on multiple TVs, evaluating the setup process, adding popular streaming channels and using the product as if it were our own. We use all of the major features available and note how they stack up against other Roku models in the company’s lineup. To do this, we hook up multiple Roku streaming devices to the same TV so we can switch back and forth easily to compare the experiences.
Our metrics that we look at to rate a device include hardware design, distinctive features that differentiate models, remote capabilities and design, overall ease-of-use, effective layouts and design, search capabilities, privacy settings, the number of apps and their performance and the overall speed and reliability of the system.
Aren’t all Rokus kind of the same?
Yes and no. All Roku devices run the same software and therefore have the same access to onscreen search, channels, settings and layouts.
Roku models differ when it comes to the physical shape of the device, its ability to offer playback at various resolutions and HDR formats — such as 4K and Dolby Vision — as well as the extra hardware features on the device itself along with the remote included in the package.
For example, the entry-level Roku Express is a small box that plugs into your TV, but sits beside it. The device can access all of Roku’s content, but it only offers playback in standard 1080p HD, not 4K. Additionally, the remote very basic and cannot turn your TV on and off. The remote also lacks other advanced features like voice control or remote finder capabilities. Those looking for 4K streaming, access to Dolby Vision, or a more powerful remote will have choose a more advanced Roku.
Do I need a separate Roku if I have a Roku TV?
No, you do not. Roku TVs come with the Roku operating system baked in to the system. This means that you’ll be presented with the Roku interface the second you hit the power button.
Roku TVs also come with Roku-branded remote controls. Depending on your TV model, you will either get a Simple Remote or a Voice remote. Both will allow you to fully navigate your TV, but Voice remotes have a microphone button for voice activation. If you feel like you want to upgrade your remote experience, you might want to check out the Voice Remote Pro listed above.
Will I be able to access all of my streaming services on my Roku?
Mostly likely, yes.
Roku is known for having a huge selection of streaming channels and has positioned itself as a service-agnostic platform. As a result, it offers all of the most popular streaming services, including Hulu, Disney Plus, Netflix, HBO Max, Amazon Prime, Showtime and Starz, among others. But it also has channels from smaller services and providers that are not available on every platform. For example, certain cable providers, such as Spectrum and Comcast Xfinity, tend to offer their apps only on select streaming platforms, and Roku is almost always one of them.
Chances are high that if you’re looking for a specific streaming app, Roku will have it.