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Roku Device Guide: Which Is the Best Roku Player? [Updated 2021]

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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 Roku is the 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. Understanding the differences between the various Roku players should help to not only buy the right one, but might also save on the cost as well.

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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.

Current Roku players: Updated July 2021

DeviceReason to buyCheck price Roku
Roku ExpressCheapest RokuAmazon
Roku Express 4K+Cheapest for 4KAmazon
Roku Streaming Stick+Best for most peopleAmazon
Roku UltraBest overallAmazon
Roku StreambarBest for saving spaceAmazon
Roku Streambar ProBest for audioAmazon

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.

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While all of the Roku players share a number of the same features, they are all designed to suit different needs and budgets. In this guide, we’ll be briefly going over each of the devices individually. This should help to make the decision of which Roku player is best, starting with the very best Roku player overall.

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 device that Roku has to offer, the Roku Ultra is the one to go for. The company even says as much by referring to this device as “our ultimate streaming player.”

ProsCons
Powerful deviceExpensive
Advanced remoteBasic design
Private listeningNot for wall-mounted TVs
4K HDR
Dolby Atmos
Dolby Vision

What makes Roku Ultra worth buying?

The Roku Ultra is designed from the ground up to be the best player the company has ever made. As standard, the device comes with 4K HDR support, USB and microSD ports, and a dedicated remote control. The latter is particularly important, considering Roku makes a number of different remotes. However, its “ultimate” player comes with the company’s ultimate remote, with one of its major selling points being the availability of a 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 as well.

Who is Roku Ultra for?

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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 streamer with everything.

How much is Roku 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+ – best for most people

Roku Streaming Stick Plus

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

ProsCons
Competitively pricedNo 3.5mm port
Stick designNo Dolby Vision
Portable
4K HDR
Voice remote

What makes Roku Streaming Stick+ worth buying?

The big selling point with the Roku Streaming Stick+ 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.

Who is Roku Streaming Stick+ for?

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

How much is Roku Streaming Stick+?

The Roku Streaming Stick+ retails for $49.99 in the US, making it a good and affordable option for most consumers, and half the price of the Roku Ultra. Furthermore, the Roku Streaming Stick+ can often be picked up at an even cheaper price, thanks to discounts and sales throughout the year.

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. It’s as cheap as a Roku gets, and yet offers an experience akin to the rest of the Roku player family. Yes, the features are limited compared to the other devices, but extra features is not why someone should considering buying the Roku Express.

ProsCons
Cheap priceNo 4K
Good starter deviceSimple remote
Compact designNot for wall-mounted TVs

What makes Roku 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 Roku 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 more elderly streamers. This is a cheap player by design and that makes it ideal for those simply looking for a low-cost, but highly useful player.

How much is Roku 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.

ProsCons
Compact designLacks premium features
4K HDRNot for wall-mounted TVs
Voice remote

What makes Roku Express 4K+ worth buying?

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

Who is Roku 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, as well as those wanting to take advantage of voice controls.

How much is Roku 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. Furthermore, this is yet another device that is routinely on sale at a lower price.

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 looks to not only provide access to the usual streaming apps, but also an elevated audio experience. This is also while helping to save on space by cutting down on the number of devices.

ProsCons
Space-savingExpensive
Premium audio2-in-1s can be a problem
4K HDRMinimal specs
Dolby Audio

What makes Roku 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, thanks to the removal of the need to house a separate streaming 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 Roku 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. However, it should be kept in mind that this is more of a space-saving solution than anything else. In other words, it is not a great option for those that want to maximize the visual and audio streaming experience.

How much is Roku Streambar?

The Roku Streambar retails for $129.99 in the US. At this price, it is more expensive than the Roku Ultra, in spite of being a less powerful device overall. It is also priced similar to many other decent devices, including the Nvidia Shield TV and Apple TV. However, the addition of the premium audio experience may make it a better option for some buyers. Similar to the other Roku players on this list, the Roku Streambar can also often be purchased at an even cheaper price.

Roku Streambar Pro – Best for audio

Roku Streambar Pro

Roku also sells a Streambar Pro. As the name suggests, it is an extension of the standard Roku Streambar model, but one that’s likely to be a better option for those in need of a more powerful and premium audio experience.

ProsCons
Space-savingExpensive
Cinematic sound2-in-1s can be a problem
4K HDRNo Dolby Vision
Dolby Audio
Improved remote

What makes Roku Streambar Pro worth buying?

Essentially, the Roku Streambar Pro is an upgrade from the standard Streambar and this is the main reason to consider buying one 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 more premium Roku remote control that’s equipped with a 3.5mm port for private listening.

Who is Roku 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 Roku 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 a cheaper option than buying a separate Roku player and soundbar. In addition, the Roku Streambar Pro is another device that’s likely to encounter occasional price drops throughout the year.

Updated July 2021

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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 writing about technology and TV-related services and devices since 2014 and believes the best streaming approach is to bounce between services as needed. Contact John via email at john@streamingbetter.com or on Twitter

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