All of the Roku Streaming Players Compared
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Updated on 9/26/2023 with new Roku Express with Voice Remote Pro information.
I’ve been a big fan since Roku launched more than 10 years ago, and although I have tested all of the players on the market, I always come back to Roku for my personal use. That’s because Roku streaming players support more services than any other, offering thousands of streaming channels and more than half a million movies and TV shows to watch. And, in my experience, Roku’s software is the most efficient when it comes to finding what you want to watch no matter where it’s streaming, allowing you to find free, rental, and purchase options wherever available.
But if you’re buying a Roku player, you may be a bit lost by the seven different models available – many of which are very similar. The Roku Streaming Stick 4K+ is my pick for most people. However, if you’re looking for a lower price or need high-end features, like support for Dolby Atmos, there may be better options from the lineup.
To help you make the right decision, I’ll break down all the models, compare their features, and give you my recommendations. What’s important to know is that every Roku model has the same user interface and the same channels, so the core functionality will be identical. The Roku Express 4K and Roku Ultra LT are no longer listed on the Roku site, but you can still find them for sale.
Roku Model Comparison Chart
|Roku Express||Roku Express 4K||Roku Express 4K with Voice Remote Pro||Roku Streaming Stick 4K||Roku Streaming Stick 4K+||Roku Ultra LT||Roku Ultra|
|Video||Full HD 1080P||4K with HDR, HDR 10+||4K with HDR, HDR10+||4K with HDR, Dolby Vision, HDR10+||
4K with HDR,
Dolby Vision, HDR10+
|4K with HDR, Dolby Vision, HDR10+||4K with HDR, Dolby Vision, HDR10+|
|Remote||Simple||Simple||Always listening voice with TV controls, private listening, personal shortcuts, and rechargeable batteries||Voice with TV controls||Always listening voice with TV controls, private listening, personal shortcuts, and rechargeable batteries||Voice with TV controls and private listening||Always listening voice with TV controls, private listening, personal shortcuts, and rechargeable batteries|
|WiFi||802.11 b/g/n dual band||802.11ac dual band||802.11ac dual band||802.11ac dual band, MIMO, power cable includes WiFi receiver for extra range||802.11ac dual band, MIMO, power cable includes WiFi receiver for extra range||802.11ac dual band, MIMO||802.11ac dual band, MIMO|
|Audio||Dolby Audio||Dolby Audio with volume leveling and night mode||Dolby Audio with volume leveling and night mode||Dolby Audio with volume leveling and night mode||Dolby Audio with volume leveling and night mode||Dolby Audio with volume leveling and night mode||
Dolby Atmos with volume leveling and night mode
Bluetooth Private Listening
|MicroSD for more storage||X||X||X||X||X||✓||✓|
|Lost remote finder||X||X||✓||X||✓||X||✓|
|No separate box: plugs directly into TV HDMI||X||X||X||✓||✓||X||X|
|HDMI cable included||✓||✓||✓||X||X||X||X|
Best streaming for most people: Roku Streaming Stick 4K+
Having used all of the Roku players, the Streaming Stick 4K+ is my favorite Roku streaming media player and the one I’d recommend to most people is the Streaming Stick 4K+. It has everything you need – 4K streaming with support for Dolby Vision and HDR10+, reliable 802.11ac dual-band MIMO wireless, and the most advanced remote control, the Voice Remote Pro.
The Streaming Stick 4K+ has a portable form factor: it’s shaped like a USB stick and plugs directly into a TV’s HDMI port. And if you have a powered USB port on your TV, that means you don’t need a separate power brick to plug into the wall. That saves space and cable clutter versus the Roku Express 4K with Voice Remote Pro and also makes the Streaming Stick 4K+ smaller and lighter to pack when traveling.
Like the Roku Ultra and Express 4K with Voice Remote Pro, the Streaming Stick 4K+ also has the best remote, the Voice Remote Pro. It is the only remote that runs on a rechargeable battery (via microUSB) that, in my experience at home, lasts more than a month before needing a charge. And, you can use the remote while charging.
The remote offers an always-listening mode for Roku voice commands. It will allow you to find your remote when it’s lost between the cushions just by asking, “Hey Roku, where’s my remote?”, as well as control Roku search, play shows, etc. There is a physical switch to turn this feature on and off, and I actually defaulted to turning it off because I found background conversation (including from the TV) would sometimes activate it in the middle of watching a show and kick you out to something else.
The remote supports Private Listening, a feature that lets you hear the audio through headphones plugged into the remote’s 3.5mm headphone jack. (You can’t use the Streaming Stick 4K+ with Bluetooth headphones, though, like you can with the Ultra.) The remote also has user-programmable “shortcut buttons”; anything you can ask Roku to do with a voice command can be a task assigned to one of the two buttons, so you can have one-button access to anything you want, whether it’s a specific program or channel or search results for a favorite actor, director, or genre of shows or films. I’ve found the buttons so easy to program that I’ll assign a button whenever I start binging a show.
While the Ultra offers the ability to pair Bluetooth headphones, Dolby Atmos home theater support, and larger WiFi antennas than the Streaming Stick 4K+, unless you have a Dolby Atmos system or WiFi reception issues in your TV location, the Streaming Stick 4K+ offers a better combination of features and a lower price. Versus the Express 4K with Voice Remote Pro, the Streaming Stick 4K+ has better WiFi and a more portable form factor for travel.
Best budget streaming: Roku Express
If you don’t have a 4K TV and are on a budget, the Roku Express is a great choice. You can enjoy the same easy-to-use Roku interface as the more expensive models, and the remote, while basic, has direct access buttons for popular services. Plus, Roku makes it easy to use the Roku Express right out of the box, as it comes bundled with an HDMI cable and batteries for the remote. I particularly like the adhesive strip that Roku includes to mount the Express to the bottom of your TV to reduce clutter.
[Image credit: Roku/Techlicious]