Best of all: Roku Ultra
With a name like the Roku Ultra, you’d expect a solid streaming device that doesn’t leave much to be desired. That’s exactly what you get here. This rounded square of components streams 4K HDR content from Netflix, Amazon, Hulu and more. There’s also plenty of 720p and 1080p content available in thousands of downloadable apps, all zoomed to look their best on your 4K TV.
For performance, the Roku Ultra uses a quad-core processor and fast dual-band AC Wi-Fi radios with 2×2 MIMO for maximum bandwidth. It also has a built-in Ethernet port, and you can play external media using the microSD and USB ports. Unfortunately, like many Roku products, the video apps lack Dolby Vision and HDR10+, but Dolby Atoms is there to enhance the movie scene.
The Ultra has Roku’s standard TV interface, which is clean and very easy to use, as is the new remote control. The latter supports voice commands via Alexa or Google Assistant, has remote paging, two additional programmable buttons, and a 3.5mm jack for private listening, perfect for the extra JBL headphones included with the Roku.
Best Budget: Roku Express
Smaller than a bar of soap and around $30, the Roku Express is the smallest and cheapest of the Roku lineup. While your content is standard 1080p and the single-band Wi-Fi N radio is a bit dated, it otherwise offers everything you love about Roku.
With over 1,000 apps in the channel store, you’ll never run out of content, and with the Roku app for iOS or android, everything is easy to find. It allows you to search for movies and shows with your voice by name, actor or director.
The app’s private listening feature lets you enjoy audio on headphones while the house is asleep, and stream media to the TV if you want to watch something Roku doesn’t have. Lucky 4K TV owners don’t need to register, but all other Roku Expresses do.
Ideal for travel: Roku Streaming Stick +
Don’t you want another digital box for your TV cabinet? Download the Roku Streaming Stick+. Thanks to its compact design, you can connect it directly to the side or back of the TV, out of the way and with as few visible cables as possible. It’s powered by an available wall adapter or USB port, but if your device has MHL capabilities, you can do without an external power source altogether. The size of the Roku Streaming Stick + is perfect for hotel rooms when you’re on the go.
The Roku Streaming Stick + is well balanced for its average price. It has 4K HDR streaming, and even if you don’t have Dolby Vision or HDR10+, there’s full support for HDR10 and HLG, which still look remarkable. Unlike the 1080p version of the Streaming Stick, the Streaming Stick + has a voice remote that lets you find new things to watch and interact with Amazon Alexa or Google Assistant products. Roku has the most apps and one of the simplest interfaces, which is great when alternatives like the Google Chromecast or Amazon Fire TV Stick fall short.
Best Roku TV: TCL 55-inch 6-Series 55R625
Don’t you prefer dongles and boxes? Roku’s smart TV platform is available for many high-end TVs, though none in our opinion offer better value than the TCL R625. The direct successor to 2017’s most popular budget 4K series, the TCL R625 takes a giant leap forward with QLED. This technology improves overall color space and accuracy by dramatically reducing color mixing. It’s not quite OLED, but QLED is the first LCD technology to challenge it, and the TCL R625 successfully implements the cheapest products on the market.
You’ll also notice that this is the only way to enjoy director-designed Dolby Vision enhancements on Roku, as Roku streaming sticks only support HDR10 and HLG. Roku sells a pair of TV-specific wireless speakers like this one, and you can even add an optional wireless subwoofer, though those upgrades will set you back more than $300. If you’re looking for your first 4K or smart TV and love Roku, the TCL R625, available in 55 or 65-inch versions, is the place to start.
Best for Sound: Roku Smart Sound bar
Of all the products released by Roku, the Smart Sound bar is perhaps the most intriguing. Roku offers a full-size mountable sound bar with four 2.5-inch speakers that easily beat the standard speakers on most TVs. It’s more expensive than your typical Roku device, but keep in mind that this is an all-in-one that offers a smart streaming experience and significantly better sound.
Unfortunately, Roku streams both Dolby Vision and Dolby Atoms, the latter of which is odd considering all of its latest streaming sticks and boxes. But there are many more reasons why the Smart Sound bar should be on your radar. It supports up to 4K HDR10, has multiple audio modes that can improve bass response or speech clarity, Bluetooth 4.2 to play music from your smartphone, and includes a voice remote to interact with voice assistants, find new content, or control your own home.
You also get HDMI ARC, which allows the TV to send any sound to the sound bar over a single cable, and you can control all connected ARC devices with a single remote. You can even pair the Roku Smart Sound bar with one of the company’s wireless subwoofers for an even more immersive experience.