Of course, there are plenty of streaming options for the holidays right now. From, and , there’s no shortage of streaming devices to choose from this holiday season. But hovering above the peloton is . Roku’s products consistently stand out in our reviews thanks to their , impressive performance and budget-friendly prices. The company has recently made some improvements to its high-end Ultra model for 2022, which now also includes the excellent . Roku also has many more affordable devices, including the mid-range and . Moreover, it even has its own and to improve the audio of your content. Below we’ve rounded up the best Roku devices you can buy right now.
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 cheapest 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 it.
This Roku streaming device is normally cheaper than the Streaming Stick 4K and other 4K HDR streamers from the company, so it’s usually our top Roku pick. It’s a great choice for those who want to get the most out of streaming without breaking the bank. Roku Express works with the popular voice assistants Alexa, Siri and Google Assistant.
Read our Express 4K Plus review.
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The Roku Streaming Stick 4K comes close to second to the Express 4K Plus. It has pretty much the same features as our top pick, but also includes Dolby Vision support. We don’t normally think Dolby Vision is worth the extra money, but if you prefer the design of the streaming stick – or feel that Dolby Vision is important – the Streaming Stick 4K is a great choice. If you’re in doubt between the two, our advice is to grab the model that’s currently the cheapest.
Read our Streaming Stick 4K review.
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Roku’s most expensive streaming box is more than double the price of our pick for the best streaming device, but you might appreciate the extra features enough to want the upgrade. The 2022 model still costs $100 and is almost identical to previous versions, except it now comes with the Voice Remote Pro.
But if you really like the remote control and want to save some money, you can 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 powerful as the Ultra’s, but it can do almost all of the same tricks, like 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 – especially welcome if your home Wi-Fi is overloaded.
Read our Roku Ultra (2022) review.
Looking for an audio upgrade and a new Roku? Check out the Stream bar. This compact soundbar connects to your TV’s HDMI ARC port and enhances sound for all your sources, from cable boxes to game consoles. The best part about this Roku player is that it’s also a 4K HDR capable Roku streamer itself. We found the Streambar easy to set up and sounds good for the size, especially with dialogue. However, if you want stronger bass, consider adding Roku’s wireless subwoofer ($180).
Read our Roku Streambar review.
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The Voice Remote Pro isn’t a player for streaming services, but it can give your Roku streaming device a nice boost. The Voice Remote Pro adds new features such as a rechargeable battery and a 10-foot midfield microphone. The latter is especially useful. You can say, “Hey Roku, find my remote,” and the device will beep so you can find it if it’s misplaced under the couch cushions.
It now ships with the 2022 Roku Ultra, but can be purchased separately and paired with any compatible Roku device.
Read our Voice Remote Pro review.
This is the one and only Roku model that we don’t recommend. Frankly, there are better entry-level streamers from Google and Amazon. We think the Chromecast with Google TV HD is by far the best choice for a $30 HD streamer. It’s fast and offers a remote control that doesn’t require line-of-sight to work and seamlessly adjusts the power, volume and inputs of can control your TV. It also comes with a built-in button to access Google Assistant. Even the Amazon Fire TV Stick Lite offers better value than the Roku Express. At least the remote on that model includes built-in voice search and control, powered by Alexa.
The good thing about the HD-only Roku Express is that it can run all the apps on Roku’s platform. But the included Roku TV remote is the bare-bones IR option that doesn’t have Roku voice remote control and requires you to point at the little box. It also doesn’t control your TV’s power, volume, and inputs, so you’ll need your regular TV remote, too. And to make matters worse, the Express doesn’t come with a power brick in the box. You need to provide it yourself or connect it to your TV’s USB port to power the device. It’s best to just avoid this model if you can. Spend a bit more to upgrade to the Express 4K Plus or grab the Chromecast with Google TV HD for the same price as this one. We promise you’ll be glad you did.
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How we test Roku devices
Every Roku we review goes through hours of field testing. This usually includes installing the device on multiple TVs, evaluating the installation process, adding popular streaming channels, and using the product as if it were our own. We’ll run through all the key features available and see how they compare to other Roku models in the company’s lineup. To do this, we connect multiple Roku streaming devices to the same TV so that we can easily switch back and forth to compare experiences.
Our metrics that we look at to rate a device include hardware design, distinguishing features that differentiate models, remote capabilities and design, overall ease of use, effective layouts and design, search capabilities, privacy settings, number of apps, and their performance and the overall speed and reliability of the system.
Frequently Asked Questions about Roku
Aren’t all Rokus the same?
Yes and no. All Roku devices use the same software and therefore have the same access to on-screen search, channels, settings and layouts.
Roku models differ when it comes to the physical shape of the device, the ability to offer playback at different 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 control included in the package.
For example, the entry-level Roku Express is a small box that plugs into your TV but sits next to it. The device can access all of Roku’s content, but only offers playback in standard 1080p HD, not 4K. In addition, the remote control is very basic and cannot turn your TV on and off. The remote also lacks other advanced features such as voice control or remote search capabilities. If you’re looking for 4K streaming, access to Dolby Vision, or a more powerful remote, you should choose a more advanced Roku.
Do I need a separate Roku if I have a Roku TV?
No you will not do that. Roku TVs come with the Roku operating system baked into the system. This means that you will see the Roku interface as soon as you press the power button.
Roku TVs also come with Roku branded remotes. Depending on your TV model, you get a simple remote control or a voice remote control. Both 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 mentioned above.
Can I access all my streaming services on my Roku?
Most 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 the 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 aren’t available on every platform. For example, certain cable providers, such as Spectrum and Comcast Xfinity, tend to only offer their apps on certain streaming platforms, and Roku is almost always one of them.
Chances are Roku has it if you’re looking for a specific streaming app.