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A Beginner’s Guide to Choosing a Roku Streaming Device

How to Choose a Roku Streaming Device

Last updated on February 11th, 2024 at 05:28 am

A Roku streaming device works like any video streaming device.

With it, you can watch free movies and TV shows on your TV while connected to the Internet.

You can also watch videos from premium streaming sites such as Netflix, Amazon Prime Video, and Hulu.

Roku allows you to do this through apps installed on any media streaming device.

It’s very much like installing apps on your smartphone to access different types of web services.

If you have a TV box or are familiar with how one works, then you’ll understand how Roku works.

Roku History

Roku dates back to 2008. The first Roku streaming device was the DVP N 1000 released in May of that year.

Back then, Netflix was the only premium video streaming service. Incidentally, Roku developed the first video streaming device with the cooperation of Netflix.

Roku’s Operating System

Every video streaming device must come with an operating system as it works very much like a mini-computer.

Roku’s operating system is called Roku OS. It is based on the Linux OS.

The Roku OS is, however, proprietary to Roku. You can’t access the code or modify it.

However, apps can be built to work with Roku OS.

What’s unique about Roku OS is it doesn’t rely on a mobile operating system meant for mobile devices.

Android TV and Amazon Fire TV use the Android Operating System.

Why is Roku Popular?

If you’ve been exploring video streaming boxes, you would have seen sites praising Roku.

Roku is attractive to many because of its affordability. For instance, compare the cost of owning a Roku with an Apple TV.

Couple that with the range of services it offers. This is largely due to the neutral game it plays.

Amazon Fire TV and Google Chromecast focus on pushing their services.

Roku doesn’t take sides. Roku being ‘friends’ with everyone, gives you the best media streaming services.

With Roku OS 9.3, for instance, you can use voice control technologies like Amazon’s Alexa and Google Assistant.

Roku’s fiercest competitor in the market is Amazon Fire TV. Still, Roku is, more often than not, the consumer’s choice.

Roku’s Standout Advantages

Friendlier Menus

With front-and-center menus, Roku allows you to arrange your menu according to your preference. Much similar to arranging apps on your smartphone.

This way, you can get to your favorite apps speedily without wading through dozens of others.

With Amazon Fire TV, you must navigate through dozens of TV shows and movies lumped together with the apps. They just add to the clutter, especially shows you hardly care about.

Amazon Fire TV will appeal to those who browse to see what is out there.

If you already know what you want to watch, Roku will serve you well.

Easier Search Facility

Want a quicker and more meaningful search? Then Roku’s your buddy. You can easily find the price of a movie or a TV show. You can then buy or watch it (if it’s free).

The same can’t be said for Fire TV. More than one option is provided, and in the end, only a single service offers it. Plus, you must explore options to watch a show or movie.

Types of Roku Streaming Devices

Roku Streaming Stick 4K

Roku Streaming Stick 4K is a notable addition to the Roku family.

As its name suggests, the HDMI dongle offers 4K and HDR10+ video quality. It also comes with a voice-powered remote.

If Dolby Vision is what you want with your Roku, then the Roku Streaming Stick 4K is the one to go for.

Especially if you have a TV that supports the feature. With this streaming stick, you’ll get to watch Dolby Vision shows over Netflix.

Long-range Wi-Fi reception is also one of the benefits you’ll enjoy with this streaming device.

Check out the Roku Streaming Stick 4K.

Roku Express 4K +

The Roku Express 4K + comes as a set-top box. If you have a 4K TV and HDR10+ minus Dolby Vision, then you would want to keep an eye on this Roku model.

Note that you must connect this Roku box to a power supply. You would also need an HDMI cable to connect it to your TV set.

The Roku Express 4K+ also boasts Voice Remote Pro (rechargeable battery included).

Check out the Roku Express 4K+.

Roku Express

Have you not upgraded your TV to 4K yet but want to watch shows with good video quality?

The Roku Express set-top box offers Full HD 1080p video quality. It scores big when it comes to size.

You can easily slip beneath your TV. There’s tape provided to attach it to your TV.

A micro-USB cable powers the streaming device. As with any set-top streaming box, you would need an HDMI cable to connect it to your TV.

There’ll be no shortage of interesting channels to provide hours of entertainment. The services supported are Netflix, The Roku Channel, Hulu with Live TV, Prime Video, HBO, Apple TV, Showtime, and Google Play.

If you’re looking for a budget streaming device with an easy-to-operate remote, don’t miss this one.

Especially if you plan to be with 1080p video for some time.

Check out the Roku Express.

Roku Premiere

Roku Premiere takes video streaming a level higher than Roku Express.

This set-top box will deliver the goods if you need an entry-level streaming device that supports 4K and HDR10+.

The only shortcoming of the Premiere is the lack of support for Dolby Vision.

But with HDR10+, you’ll get decent video quality.

Box size is a plus. A micro USB connection is needed to power the device. You must also connect it to your TV with an HDMI cable.

You can stick the set-top box to the edge of your TV or beneath it. A double-sided tape is provided for that purpose.

The remote is user-friendly. The free Roku app with iOS and Android will turn your smartphone into a second remote. Do a voice search. Listen to music with a set of wireless headphones.

If you want to enjoy 4K HDR video without burning a hole in your pocket, Roku Premiere should be your top pick.

Check out Roku Premiere.

Roku Streaming Stick+

Roku Streaming Stick+ is an improvement on Roku Premiere in terms of connectivity. You can dispense with the need for an HDMI cable to connect to your TV. It is USB-powered. You can connect it to a spare USB port on your TV.

Yes, it’s a dongle that you need to plug into your TV HDMI port. Just plug in this Roku streaming device and forget about it.

You don’t have to worry about Wi-Fi reception with the device behind your TV. A built-in Wi-Fi booster provides a signal strong enough to stream 4K HDR10+ quality video.

Voice-powered search is also available. Remote is an improved version you can use to control your TV.

Check out the Roku Streaming Stick+.

Roku Ultra – 2020 Version

What differentiates the 2020 Roku Ultra set-top box model is the availability of support for Dolby Vision and Dolby Atmos.

You would need a TV that supports both of these features.

This Roku streaming device comes with Bluetooth support. It allows you to stream music from your phone to your TV.

Wi-Fi stability is also better than the previous version. If you need a stable Internet connection, an Ethernet port is included.

It has a voice remote to search and view your favorite shows easily. Also, use a single remote to control your TV and your Roku.

Check out Roku Ultra 2020, described as ‘the fastest, most powerful Roku player ever.’

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