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 video streaming sites such as Netflix, Amazon Prime Video, and Hulu, among others.
Roku allows you to do this through apps installed on any of its media streaming devices.
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.
- 1 Roku History
- 2 Roku’s Operating System
- 3 Why is Roku Popular?
- 4 Roku’s Standout Advantages
- 5 Friendlier Menus
- 6 Types of Roku Streaming Devices
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 they work 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 come across sites that praise Roku.
Roku is attractive to many because of its affordability. Compare the cost of owning a Roku with an Apple TV, for instance.
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 out there.
With Roku OS 9.3, for instance, you get to 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
With front-and-center menus, Roku gives you the flexibility of arranging your menu according to your preference. Much similar to arranging apps on your smartphone.
In this way, you can get to your favorite apps speedily without having to wade through dozens of others.
With Amazon Fire TV you would have to navigate your way 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 like to browse around to see what is out there.
If you already know what you want to watch, then Roku is your cup of tea.
Easier Search Facility
Want a quicker and more meaningful search? Then Roku’s your buddy. You can easily find out the price of a movie or a TV show. You can then proceed to buy it 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, there’s only a single service offering it. Plus you’ve to spend time exploring 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.
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. You’ll get to watch Dolby Vision shows over Netflix with this streaming stick.
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 in the form of 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.
Take note that you would have to 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+ .
Have 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 you with hours of entertainment. Among 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 to come.
Check out the Roku Express.
Roku Premiere takes video streaming a level higher than Roku Express.
If you need an entry-level streaming device that supports 4K and HDR10+, this set-top box will deliver the goods.
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 would also need to 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.
Remote is user-friendly. The free Roku app available 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 would like 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. There’s a built-in Wi-Fi booster to provide a signal strong enough to stream 4K HDR10+ quality video.
Voice-powered search is also available. Remote is an improved version which you can also 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 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 for that.
It comes with a voice remote to easily search and view your favorite shows. Also, use a single remote to control your TV and your Roku.
Check out Roku Ultra 2020 which has been described as ‘the fastest, most powerful Roku player ever.’