You have plenty of options if you want to watch streaming media on your television, but our favorite streaming media player is the Roku. The streaming player supports more services than any other, offering thousands of different streaming channels and more than half a million movies and TV shows to watch. Roku’s software makes it easy to find what you want to watch no matter where it’s streaming — and as we get more and more streaming services, this is increasingly important.
But if you’re looking to buy a Roku, you may be a bit lost by the eight different models available — many of which are very similar.
To help you make your decision, let's run through the models to see which one will work best for you.
Roku Model Comparison
|Roku Express||Roku Express+ (2018)||Roku Express+||Roku Premiere||Roku Streaming Stick+||Roku Streaming Stick+ HE||Roku Ultra LT||Roku Ultra|
|4K UHD video with HDR||X||X||X||✓||✓||✓||✓||✓|
|Voice remote with private listening jack||X||X||X||X||X||✓||✓||✓|
|MicroSD for more storage||X||X||X||X||X||X||✓||✓|
|Lost remote finder||X||X||X||X||X||X||X||✓|
|Remote with personal shortcut buttons||X||X||X||X||X||X||X||✓|
|No box: plugs directly into TV||X||X||X||X||✓||✓||X||X|
|HDMI cable included||✓||✓||✓||✓||X||X||X||X|
|Composite cables included for older TVs||X||✓||X||X||X||X||X||X|
Best Budget Streaming: Roku Express
if you just need the basics, the Roku Express player is the cheapest Roku on the market. It has HD resolution, a simple remote, and an HDMI cable in the box.
Price: $30, check price on Amazon
Best for Old TVs: Roku Express+ (2018 model)
Roku still sells its 2018 model of the Roku Express+ for people whose TVs don't have an HDMI port. It has HD Resolution, a simple remote and inside the box you'll find composite and HDMI cables.
Price: $30 on Roku
Budget Streaming with Voice Control: Roku Express+
The current-generation Roku Express+ is a basic HD streamer that comes with an HDMI cable in the box— exactly like the Roku Express. But it also comes with a voice remote. Just press and hold the mic button on the remote and you can use voice controls to search for shows and operate your Roku, including playing and pausing shows — no typing required.
Price: $40, check price on Walmart
Best Budget 4K Streaming: Roku Premiere
If you need 4K HDR streaming, the Roku Premiere is the least expensive way to add it to your television. Beyond 4K resolution, the Roku Premiere comes with an HDMI cable in the box. If all you need is 4K streaming, the Premiere is the right player for you.
Price: $40, check price on Amazon
Our Favorite Streaming Player: Roku Streaming Stick+
The Streaming Stick+ is a 4K streamer with a portable form factor: it’s shaped like a USB stick and plugs directly into a TV’s HDMI port. That lets you save space and cable clutter. Beyond that, the Streaming Stick+ also has improved WiFi (802.11ac MIMO dual-band wireless), with better range and four times faster speeds, which makes for smoother streaming — particularly in 4K. It also includes Roku’s voice remote for easy browsing and searching.
It’s our favorite all-around Roku. With 4K, better WiFi and a voice remote, it has all of the features you’d want in a streaming player.
Price: $50, check price on Amazon
Best Streaming with Headphones: Roku Streaming Stick+ HE
This Roku adds a nice extra to the standard Streaming Stick+: an advanced remote with private listening. This remote has a headphone jack so you can plug in your headphones and enjoy watching TV while not disturbing anyone around you. A basic set of earbuds are included in the box.
This is a nice feature, but not a necessary one. If you keep your smartphone on hand, you can also enjoy private listening via the Roku app. But if you want the headphone jack, this is the lowest cost way to get it.
Price: $60, check price on Best Buy
Best Streaming over Ethernet: Roku Ultra LT
The Roku Ultra has everything you’ll find in the Roku Streaming Stick+ HE — 4K streaming, speedy 802.11ac MIMO dual-band WiFi and a voice remote with headphone jack for private listening — but instead of a stick, it’s a box that sits by your TV. If you want to minimize clutter, this may not be for you, but it offers a few features to make it a worthwhile upgrade.
It has an Ethernet port built-in for faster and more reliable streaming than even the speedy 802.11ac MIMO dual-band WiFi. If you have a convenient Ethernet connection, it’s worth buying a Roku Ultra for streaming that won’t be slowed down by your home’s WiFi network. The processor has been upgraded for smoother streaming. And, it has a MicroSD port. This lets you install more channels and games, which is great if you need more space for channels and games.
Price: $80, check price on Walmart
Best Streaming Extras: Roku Ultra
The Roku Ultra is the absolute top-of-the-line offering. It has everything you’ll find on the Ultra LT — 4K streaming, reliable 802.11ac dual-band MIMO wireless, built-in Ethernet port, a voice remote with headphone jack for private listening, an upgraded processor and a MicroSD port — plus a few handy upgrades.
The remote that comes with the Roku Ultra has user-programmable "shortcut buttons." So you can have one-button access to anything you want. In addition to a MicroSD port, the Ultra has a USB port for viewing content stored on a local USB stick or drive. And, you get premium JBL headphones instead of the basic earbuds that come with the other models. The best upgrade, though, is the lost remote finder button. Press the button on the Ultra box and the remote will ring.
Price: $100, check price on Amazon
[Image credit: Roku]
Voice control for ROKU TV?
From LGraham on August 28, 2020 :: 3:48 pm
My TV has ROKU installed. I’m looking for a remote for it that has voice controls;none of the items in this article seem to apply. Maybe a product suggestion to pass along? Or have I missed something?
Separate remotes are available for Roku
From Josh Kirschner on August 28, 2020 :: 6:13 pm
You can buy a Roku remote for your Roku TV that has voice controls. It’s an accessory, not a standalone product, which is why we didn’t include it here. There are two options: 1) Roku remote with voice control and 2) Roku remote with voice control and personal shortcuts. You can see both options on the Roku site: https://www.roku.com/products/accessories/player or via Amazon: https://amzn.to/3gBEBZq.
From LGraham on August 28, 2020 :: 7:10 pm
Thank you so much! They were out of stock but I found them IN stock on Amazon!