Roku provides a family of streaming devices enabling cord-cutters to watch live and on-demand entertainment on their TVs. Roku devices range from entry-level set-top boxes and streaming sticks to powerful media hubs and smart TVs.
Roku devices are home to hundreds of apps and channels that appeal to a wide variety of hobbies and interests. All Roku devices enable users to download apps for popular on-demand streaming services such as Amazon Prime Video, CBS All Access, Disney+, Hulu, Netflix, the Roku Channel, and STARZ. They can also access live streaming services such as fuboTV, Hulu + Live TV, Philo, Sling TV and Vidgo.
This article will explore the range of device options available, how to use Roku, and how to set up your Roku.
Connecting your Roku device to your TV
Roku setup differs depending on the model purchased. Some devices plug directly into the TV, others require an HDMI cable, or, in the case of smart TVs, play directly on the TV. But the setup process is similar for all Roku devices.
Roku device overview
Roku’s entry-level streaming device is the Roku Express set-top box, which connects to the TV with an HDMI cable, is powered with a USB cable, and costs $29.99. Read our Roku Express review to find out more. For an extra $10, users can upgrade to the Roku Express+ ($39.99), which plugs into the powerline. Find out more about the device in our Roku Express+ review.
The Roku Premiere also costs $39.99 and is Roku’s budget 4K-ready device. The Roku Premiere is also a set-top box and connects to the TV with a premium high-speed HDMI cable that enables high-dynamic-range (HDR) and 4K video resolution. The Roku Premiere+ comes with a voice-powered remote, as opposed to the Premiere’s infrared remote, and costs $49.99. Read about the devices in our Roku Premiere review.
Users looking for a device that plugs directly into their TV can get the Roku Streaming Stick for $49.99 or the Roku Streaming Stick+ for $59.99. The Streaming Stick+ supports 4K and HDR10 video resolution and enhanced wireless connectivity. Read our Roku Streaming Stick+ review for more information.
Roku’s premium streaming device is its Roku Ultra media hub, which costs $99.99. The Ultra connects to the TV via an HDMI cable, and it can connect to Wi-Fi networks or use an Ethernet cable. It’s designed for 4K streaming and offers powerful video processing. Discover more in our Roku Ultra review.
Another option is the Roku Smart Soundbar, which can be used as a media hub, supports 4K and HDR10 video resolution, and costs $179.99.
Roku also provides its technology to TV manufacturers, who use it to create smart TVs. Roku-powered TVs use the same operating system as the streaming devices and allow users to watch content directly on the TV set without connecting a set-top box or stick. Most Roku TVs support 4K and are available from $129.99.
All Roku devices come with remote controls for setting up the device, downloading apps, and finding your favorite movies and shows. For more information about all the Roku devices, read our guide to Roku devices, differences, prices, and more.
How to set up your Roku device
Follow this 11-step process for how to use Roku, get your Roku set up, and start streaming:
- Users that have a Roku set-top box or media hub need to plug an HDMI cable into the Roku device and connect the other end of the cable into a vacant HDMI port on the TV. Roku streaming stick users simply plug the device directly into an available HDMI port on the TV.
- Connect the Roku device to the included AC adapter and plug the adapter into an outlet. Turn on the TV and change the source mode to the appropriate HDMI connection, if the TV doesn’t do so automatically. The Roku welcome page will appear on the screen.
- Insert batteries — which will either be AA or AAA, depending on the device model — into the Roku remote. The remote should pair automatically, but if not, follow the on-screen instructions to get the remote set up.
- With the remote set up, use it to select a preferred language then move on to setting up an Internet connection. Most Roku devices need to be set up on a Wi-Fi network, but the Roku Ultra can connect directly via an Ethernet cable. If possible, ensure the wireless router is close to the TV to achieve faster and more reliable connectivity.
- To get the Roku device online, select the Set up a new wireless connection button, choose the appropriate Wi-Fi network, and enter the password.
- Once connected, the Roku will most likely need to install updates, so allow it to update and restart as required without disconnecting the power or from the TV.
- When updates are complete, the Roku device may ask to detect the display settings on the TV. Use the remote control to run a quick test and get the correct display set up.
- New Roku users need to visit the Roku website on their computer or mobile phone and create an account. Users that already have a Roku account will be able to log in using their existing credentials.
- The Roku device will show on-screen directions to visit the Roku website on a computer or mobile device and display an activation code. Visit the Roku activation page and enter the code displayed on the TV. An “All done” message will appear on the screen, indicating the device is now activated.
- Assign the Roku device a nickname and the room that the device is in, which can be helpful for households that have multiple Rokus.
- The Roku device will load its Home page and display a selection of popular apps and channels you can download. Select the Continue button, and the device will automatically begin the setup process and start adding the selected channels, which could take a while.
The final cut
Roku devices are quick and simple for users to connect, get set up, and start streaming their favorite movies and TV shows. The Roku remote is simple to use, but there’s also a Roku mobile app that doubles up as a second remote and enables voice search, provides an entertainment guide, and helps users find new content.