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Roku Device Guide: Picking The Best Roku Player

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Roku is one of the better-known names in streaming and its players are some of the most popular. However, with so many devices to choose from, it can be difficult to know which one will be best for an individual subscriber or household. While consumers can simply opt for the most expensive device in the hope of getting the best experience and the most features, that might not be the right move.

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Although its players are what helped to establish the brand in the beginning, Roku has evolved well beyond hardware. Similar to Amazon’s Fire TV devices, opting to buy a Roku player not only means buying a device from a trusted company with years of experience, but it also opens access up to an increasingly rich user experience.

Understanding the differences between the various Roku players should help to buy the right one, and might also help to save on the cost as well.

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Roku playersCheck price
Roku Express
The Cheapest
Amazon
Roku
Roku Express 4K+
Cheapest for 4K
Amazon
Roku
Roku Streaming Stick 4K
Best for most people
Roku
Roku Streaming Stick 4K+
A better remote
Amazon
Roku
Roku Ultra
Best overall
Amazon
Roku
Roku Streambar
Best for saving space
Amazon
Roku
Roku Streambar Pro
Best for audio
Amazon
Roku

The players listed above are not the only Roku options available. For example, there are a number of third-party TV companies that also sell smart TVs running on Roku OS. However, for those looking for the easiest, and often cheapest, way to start streaming with Roku, the company’s own players are usually the best option.

Roku Ultra – best overall

Roku Ultra

The Roku Ultra is the best Roku player available to buy today. While the best is fairly subjective, that’s not really the case here. For those looking for the best performance, the most features, and the best quality that Roku has to offer, the Roku Ultra is the one to go with.

Pros:

  • Powerful device
  • Advanced remote
  • Private listening
  • 4K HDR
  • Dolby Atmos/Vision

Cons:

  • Expensive
  • Basic design
  • Not for wall-mounted TVs

What makes Ultra worth buying?

The Roku Ultra is designed from the ground up to be the best player the company has ever made. It comes with 4K HDR support, USB and microSD ports, and a dedicated remote that’s equipped with 3.5mm port. This allows the user to connect a pair of headphones and enjoy a more private listening experience when needed. The package even includes a free pair of earphones.

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Who is Roku for?

The Roku Ultra is designed for those who want the best possible streaming device the company has to offer. Whether that’s in terms of performance, wireless connection, features, specs, or just the remote, the Roku Ultra is for those that want a Roku streamer with everything.

How much is Ultra?

The Roku Ultra retails for $99.99 in the U.S. This makes the Roku Ultra the most expensive standard streaming player that the company offers. However, it can occasionally be picked up at a cheaper sale price during the year.

Roku Streaming Stick 4K: best for most people

Roku Streaming Stick 4K

While the Roku Ultra is the best Roku overall, the Roku Streaming Stick 4K is likely to be the best options for most people. In short, the Roku Streaming Stick 4K offers the best balance of features and price, resulting in a device that is likely to suit the needs of most individuals and households.

Pros:

  • Competitively priced
  • Stick design
  • Portable
  • 4K HDR
  • Voice remote

Cons:

  • No 3.5mm port
  • No Dolby Atmos

What makes Streaming Stick 4K worth buying?

The big selling point with the Roku Streaming Stick 4K is the design. With this being a dongle-based device, it simply plugs directly into the TV without the need for any additional wires, resulting in a super portable and discrete player. Likewise, it’s small enough that it can be slipped into a pocket or bag when heading out the door and used elsewhere.

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Who is Streaming Stick 4K for?

The Roku Streaming Stick 4K is suitable for anyone. For those that are new to streaming, the Stick 4K is neither too cheap nor too expensive, and will provide access to most of the features a buyer would expect from a Roku player. Likewise, more experienced streamers will also see the value in Roku’s Streaming Stick 4K, and especially as a secondary device for the home, such as a bedroom.

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How much is Streaming Stick 4K?

The Roku Streaming Stick 4K retails for $49.99 in the United States. However, the portable streaming player can often be picked up at an even cheaper price, thanks to discounts and sales throughout the year.

Roku Streaming Stick 4K+: a better remote

Roku Streaming Stick 4K+

The Roku Streaming Stick 4K+ is pretty much identical to the standard Streaming Stick 4K. However, where it does differ is in the inclusion of the Roku Voice Remote Pro. If interested in the best remote Roku has to offer, the Roku Streaming Stick 4K has that, on top of everything else that’s available with the normal Stick 4K model.

Pros:

  • Roku Voice Remote Pro
  • Stick design
  • Portable
  • 4K HDR
  • Premium remote

Cons:

  • Expensive
  • No Dolby Atmos

What makes Streaming Stick 4K+ worth buying?

The big selling point with the Roku Streaming Stick 4K+ is the Roku Voice Remote Pro. This is the latest remote from the House of Roku and the big selling point is the micro-USB port. Unlike other Roku remotes that require batteries, the Roku Voice Remote Pro is fully rechargeable. It also comes with a 3.5mm headphone port to provide a private listening experience when needed.

Who is Streaming Stick 4K+ for?

The Roku Streaming Stick 4K+ is designed for those that want the ease and compact nature of a dongle device but also want a powerful remote to control the device. If the quality of the remote is less important, then the standard Streaming Stick 4K offers the same general experience but at a cheaper price.

How much is Streaming Stick 4K+?

The Roku Streaming Stick 4K+ retails for $69.99 in the US. As the included Roku Voice Remote Pro typically costs $29.99 on its own, the cost of the Streaming Stick 4K+ is $10 cheaper than buying the standard Streaming Stick 4K and the Roku Voice Remote Pro.

Roku Express: best Roku on a budget

Roku Express

If the cost matters the most then the Roku Express is worth considering. Roku is a company that’s all about affordability and usability, and the Roku Express sums up both of these points perfectly. The Express is just about as cheap as a Roku gets, and offers a similar experience to the rest of the Roku player family.

Pros:

  • Cheap price
  • Good starter device
  • Compact design

Cons:

  • No 4K
  • Simple remote
  • Not for wall-mounted TVs

What makes Express worth buying?

To sum up the Roku Express, this is the ultimate entry-level player from the company, and while the price is right, there are some things to be aware of. The most important is the lack of 4K support. If 4K is important, then look elsewhere. However, the Roku Express does come with everything someone would need to start streaming for the first time, making its cheap price, easy of use and setup, reasons worth buying.

Who is the Express for?

The Roku Express is for those new to streaming, or for those looking for an additional device to use in a second room. It may prove to be especially useful for kids or elderly streamers. This is a cheap player by design and that makes it ideal for those simply looking for a low-cost, but useful player.

How much is Express?

The Roku Express retails for just $29.99, making it not only the cheapest Roku player, but also a cheap streaming device in general. In spite of its low entry price, the Roku Express can also often be picked up at an even cheaper price, increasing the value further.

Roku Express 4K+: best 4K on a budget

Roku Express 4K Plus

As the name suggests, the Roku Express 4K+ is the same device as the Roku Express, but with 4K support included. As a result, this is the cheapest 4K player the company currently sells.

Pros:

  • Compact design
  • 4K HDR
  • Voice remote

Cons:

  • Lacking premium features
  • Not for wall-mounted TVs

What makes Express 4K+ worth buying?

Roku used to sell a Roku Premiere as its cheapest 4K device, but that has now been replaced by the Express 4K+. While the design is very similar, one of the main differences between the Express 4K+ and the Premier is this model comes with an improved remote control. The voice remote with TV controls is also another reason to buy the Express 4K+over the standard Express.

Who is Express 4K+ for?

The Roku Express 4K+ is designed for those that want a cheap streaming player, but don’t want to miss out on 4K support. Again, this will be best suited to new streamers or those looking for a device for a second room in the home.

How much is Express 4K+?

The Roku Express 4K+ retails for $39.99, making it one of the cheapest ways to get started with 4K streaming. At just $10 more than the Roku Express, the Express 4K+ not only adds support for the higher resolution, but also comes with a better remote.

Roku Streambar – best for saving space

Roku Streambar

The Roku Streambar is a little different to the rest of the Roku players discussed so far, as it not only provides access to the usual streaming apps, but also an elevated audio experience. This is all while helping to save on space by cutting down on the number of devices.

Pros:

  • Space-saving
  • Premium audio
  • 4K HDR
  • Dolby Audio

Cons:

  • Expensive
  • 2-in-1s can be a problem
  • No Dolby Atmos

What makes Streambar worth buying?

The Roku Streambar is not only a streaming player, but also a mini soundbar as well, hence the Streambar name. One of the main benefits of this dual-design is the freeing up of space by removing the need to house a separate player and soundbar. In this sense, it is a device that’s worth buying by anyone looking to simplify their home entertainment setup.

Who is Streambar for?

The Roku Streambar is not going to be for everyone. For those in need of reducing the number of devices in a room without compromising on the audio quality, then the Streambar is going to be an option worth considering. For those that want to maximize the visual and audio streaming experience, the combined nature of the this space-saving solution won’t be the best option.

How much is Streambar?

The Roku Streambar retails for $129.99 in the US making it more expensive than the more powerful Roku Ultra. It is also priced similar to many other decent devices, including the Nvidia Shield TV and Apple TV. That said, the addition of the premium audio experience may make it a better option for some buyers, and especially if it happens to be on sale at the time.

Roku Streambar Pro – Best for audio

Roku Streambar Pro

In addition to the standard Streambar, Roku also sells a Streambar Pro. The Pro version looks to offer an even better sound experience and primarily thanks to the use of larger full-range drivers.

Pros:

  • Space-saving
  • Cinematic sound
  • 4K HDR
  • Dolby Audio
  • Improved remote

Cons:

  • Expensive
  • 2-in-1s can be a problem
  • No Dolby Vision

What makes Streambar Pro worth buying?

The Roku Streambar Pro is an upgraded version of the standard Streambar and this is the main reason to consider buying it over the other devices. Once again, the 2-in-1 streaming player and soundbar design offers a way to save on space, but this time while maximizing the audio experience. Another reason why the Streambar Pro is going to be worth buying over the standard model is the inclusion of a premium Roku remote that’s equipped with a 3.5mm port for private listening.

Who is Streambar Pro for?

Just like the standard model, the Roku Streambar Pro is not going to be for everyone. In fact, it may be for even fewer people than the standard model. However, it will suit those in need of an even better audio experience while still looking to save on space by simplifying their home entertainment setup. In particular, the Roku Streambar Pro is likely to be best suited for those looking for an all-in-one solution for larger rooms and to match larger TV sets.

How much is Streambar Pro?

The Roku Streambar Pro retails for $179.99 in the US, making it the most expensive device Roku sells overall. However, the price is likely to be cheaper than buying a separate Roku player and soundbar. The Roku Streambar Pro is another device that’s also likely to encounter occasional price drops throughout the year.

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John Finn

By John Finn

John started Streaming Better to help consumers navigate the live TV streaming and subscription service landscape. John has been editing and writing about technology and streaming for online publications since 2014, and believes the best streaming approach is to rotate between services as needed.

John's preferred live TV streaming service right now is YouTube TV although he does tend to switch live TV services multiple times each year to keep up to date with their changes. Outside of live TV, John also actively streams HBO Max (for the shows), Peacock (for Premier League), and Paramount Plus (for Champion's League). However, John is also currently subscribed to Apple TV+, Discovery+, Hulu, Starz, Showtime, and Shudder.

Contact John via email at john@streamingbetter.com or say hi on Twitter

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