The Best Roku Devices Right Now in 2021

Roku provides a range of affordable but high-quality streaming devices that enable cord-cutters to watch movies and shows and stream all their favorite music through their TV. The company offers plenty of options to help users quickly start streaming from various live TV, on-demand services, and music libraries. These range from entry-level budget streaming devices through to powerful, 4K ready media hubs.

This article will explore the various audio devices, media hubs, and streaming boxes and sticks that Roku provides. And will help users to select the best Roku device for their streaming requirements.

Best Roku devices at a glance

All Roku devices provide access to Roku Channels, which enables viewers to download apps for more than 4,000 of their favorite streaming services. This includes all the major video streaming options, from on-demand services like Amazon Prime Video, Disney+, Hulu, Netflix, and Starz to live TV channels like fuboTV, Hulu + Live TV, Philo, and Sling TV. Subscribers can also access a huge library of additional apps and services that cover everything from live games, movies, and music to news and sports.

All Roku devices are accessed with remote controls and include powerful search features that enable users to find content across the free channels and paid-for services. Additionally, users can use the free Roku mobile app which turns their phone or tablet into a second remote control. This capability enables the viewer to search for content on their mobile device and access an entertainment guide. It also lets users send their music, photos, and videos to their TV.

The best Roku devices available to streamers are:

  • Best for budget streamers: Roku Express (from $29.99)
  • Best for entry 4K viewing: Roku Premiere (from $39.99)
  • Best media hub: Roku Smart Soundbar (from $179.99)
  • Best streaming stick: Roku Streaming Stick (from $49.99)
  • Best for smart TVs: Roku TV (from $129.99)
  • Best for supreme sound: Roku TV Wireless Speakers (from $199.99)
  • Best overall streaming box: Roku Ultra (from $99.99)

Selecting the best Roku devices

Selecting any streaming device is reliant on several factors. That includes the way in which users prefer to consume content, the price they are willing to pay, and sound and video quality preferences. But when it comes to selecting the best Roku device, users need to consider the size of the device, the streaming quality it provides, its price, and the type of content it allows them to enjoy.

Roku sticks and streaming hubs are ideal for viewers who like to stream content at home on their TV. However, the devices are not an option for people who prefer to watch movies and TV shows on their mobile phone or tablet. 

Roku devices range from $29.99 up to $199.99, which is defined by the device type and the features they provide. This includes the quality of the picture and sound that the device offers. Most new Roku devices now offer 4K and high-dynamic-range (HDR) video quality, but achieving that resolution is reliant on having a 4K ready TV. It is, therefore, important for streamers to consider why they need a streaming device, what they will use it for, and to select an appropriately priced device.

Best for budget streamers: Roku Express (from $29.99)

Roku’s budget streaming device is a great entry option for people who are new to streaming. The Roku Express set-top box enables viewers to watch their favorite movies and shows in high-definition video resolution. It comes with a high-speed HDMI cable that connects to the TV and is powered by a USB cable. The device is controlled by a simple to use remote control and comes with a piece of sticky tape that enables it to be discreetly stored under the TV. The Express updates automatically to ensure users are always working with the most up-to-date software.

For an extra $10, the Roku Express+ (from $39.99) can also be plugged into an electrical outlet and is compatible with voice-enabled devices like Alexa and Google Assistant. It also provides legacy standard-definition (SD) video support through composite video.

Best for entry 4K viewing: Roku Premiere (from $39.99)

The Roku Premiere provides similar features to the Express but offers viewers a more powerful performance. Also a set-top box, the device comes with a premium high-speed HDMI cable that supports HDR and 4K video resolution, compared to the Express being restricted to 1080p high definition (HD). Roku Premiere also provides a simple option for people to stream live TV and on-demand services. 

The Roku Premiere+ (from $49.99) provides all the same features as the Premiere. The only difference between the two is that the Premiere+ comes with a voice-powered remote, rather than the Premiere’s infrared remote.

Best media hub: Roku Smart Soundbar (from $179.99)

The Roku Smart Soundbar has media streaming capabilities that enable it to be used as a media hub. The device comes with HDMI ARC, an optical port, and USB ports. It also has screw holes for users to mount it to a wall. It features Bluetooth and Spotify Connect, which enable users to get high-quality music streaming. As well as 4K and HDR10 support for optimal video streaming quality. There are no buttons on the device itself, so it is fully managed by a remote control that comes with voice support. But there is no headphone jack. The Smart Soundbar is also vastly more expensive than the Roku set-top boxes and streaming sticks on this list.

Best streaming stick: Roku Streaming Stick (from $49.99)

Unlike the Express and Premier devices, the Roku Streaming Stick plugs directly into the user’s TV. The stick device is powered by either plugging it into an electrical outlet or via a USB cable. The Streaming Stick supports 1080p HD video quality and features 802.11ac dual-band MIMO wireless connectivity that offers four times the range of Express and Premiere devices. The stick also comes with voice control capability that enables users to manage the power and volume controls on their TV and search for content.

For $10 extra, the Roku Streaming Stick+ ($59.99) increases the video quality to 4K and HDR10, which ensures a high-performance, smoother streaming experience. The plus version also offers enhanced wireless connectivity thanks to an extender in the middle of the power cable, which boosts the range of the Roku device and provides a more reliable signal.

Best for smart TVs: Roku TV (from $129.99)

Roku is increasingly bringing its streaming device expertise to the television market, although it does not actually build or sell its own TVs. Instead, manufacturers like HiSense and Sharp use the company’s technology to power their smart TVs which enables users to get internet-connected TVs at a much lower price point.

Roku-powered TVs use the same platform and enable users to download the same apps and channels as its streaming devices. Rather than having to plug a device into the TV, the streaming capability is built directly into the set. Most new Roku TVs now support 4K, and some enable Dolby Vision HDR.

Best for supreme sound: Roku TV Wireless Speakers (from $199.99)

The Roku TV Wireless Speakers provide a large, full sound with wide stereo imaging. The device comes with two remote controls that include built-in voice control. However, the device requires a Roku TV in order for the speakers to function, plus each speaker requires its own power outlet.

Best overall streaming box: Roku Ultra (from $99.99)

The high-end streaming box Roku Ultra is designed for 4K video streaming and offers Roku’s most powerful video processing, which arguably makes it the best Roku available. The device plugs into an electrical outlet and connects to the TV via an HDMI cable. It can be connected to a Wi-Fi network or via its Ethernet port, which is ideal for perfect 4K video streaming. It also features USB and microSD ports that enable users to load external content and an infrared receiver that ensures it works with universal remotes.

The device features a more advanced remote control than other Roku products, with features like A and B buttons for playing games and a headphone jack that enables users to listen to their content privately. The Ultra box also has a button that, when pressed, emits a sound on the remote control that helps the user to find it.

The final cut

Cord-cutters have a wide range of choices available to them with Roku’s strong streaming device lineup. All Roku devices enable users to stream live TV streaming channels, watch their favorite movies and shows on-demand, and access music and games via apps on the Roku Channel Store. The company offers something for all streamers, beginning with entry-level set-top boxes like the $29.99 Roku Express through to the premium $99.99 Roku Ultra, which is designed for the ultimate online streaming experience. It also provides audio options like its Wireless Speakers and its Smart Soundbar, which are a little more pricey.

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