Roku produces some of the most popular streaming devices on the market. In 2020, the streaming giant broke record numbers in total hours streamed. It’s no wonder why Roku is so successful — there’s a device for every kind of experience, whether you’re looking to upgrade your primary entertainment set up or you just want a basic model to work with that older TV in your guest room.
Two of Roku’s most successful models are the Roku Express and Roku Streaming Stick Plus. But what’s the difference between Roku Express vs. Stick? While Roku Express is the cheapest streaming device offered by the streaming giant, Roku Streaming Stick is by far the most in-demand. But how exactly do Roku Express and Streaming Stick Plus compare when it comes to features and compatibility? Don’t worry, we cover all that and more below.
But first, would you like to take a deep dive into Roku’s products? Good news! We dig into the finer details with our full review of Roku Premiere and where it stands on our list of favorite streaming devices. But if you want to see what all the hype’s about with Roku Streaming Stick Plus, find out what we really think about its feature and performance in our product breakdown.
Roku Express vs. Roku Streaming Stick Plus features and specs
|Roku Express||Roku Premiere||Roku Streaming Stick Plus||Roku Ultra||Roku Ultra LT|
|Dolby Vision support||No||No||No||Yes||NO|
|Remote control||Standard IR Remote||Standard IR Remote||Voice Remote||Voice Remote||Voice Remote|
|Google Assistant compatible||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes|
|Dimensions||1.5 X 3.0 X 0.75 inches||1.4 X 3.3 X 0.7 inches||3.7 x 0.8 x 0.47 inches||4.92 X 4.92 X 0.83 inches||4 X 4 X 0.80 inches|
Roku Express vs. Roku Streaming Stick Plus cost
As we mentioned above, the Express model is Roku’s cheapest streaming device, priced at just $29.99. Included with the small set-top box is a standard IR remote. For $10 more, though, you could get Roku Premiere for $39.99 and get a few upgraded features, like 4K streaming quality. But more on that below.
Roku Streaming Stick Plus costs $49.99, and rather than taking the form of a set-top box, like cheaper models, the Streaming Stick Plus plugs discreetly into your TV’s HDMI port. For some, the Streaming Stick Plus is the perfect solution because of its small size, upgraded streaming quality, and voice-activated remote.
However, if you want even more power, as well as extra storage space, then you might want to consider the wireless Roku Ultra LT for $79.99. Now, if you want Dolby Atmos and Dolby Vision, the even more powerful Roku Ultra is worth the price at $99.99.
Roku Express vs. Roku Streaming Stick Plus interface and personalization
All of Roku’s products share essentially the same interface as long as the models are updated with Roku OS 9.4. If you’re unsure if you have the latest OS, select Home (house icon) on your remote. Then, navigate to your Settings and click System. After that, tap Update. When it’s finished updating, click Check Now to look for updates manually.
Roku’s latest interface is not only useful but helped shape how we interact with streaming devices — from its side-panel menubar to the grid-style layout that presents all of your apps. There’s also a Roku Channel that’s available even to non-Roku users where you can access entertainment for free.
Not excited by Roku’s classic appearance? No problem! You can personalize your Roku interface with one of its many theme packs. Go from Blue Mountain Terrace to Green Jungle Adventure or Orange Desert Western in a matter of seconds. Plus, download additional themes for the cost of nothing by accessing the Settings on your Roku device.
Roku Express vs. Roku Streaming Stick Plus streaming quality
Roku Express may not deliver 4K quality streaming like other devices out there, but it’s perfect for older TVs. That’s because Roku Express streams up to 1080p and upscales image qualities from 720p. That means if you’re watching older programs with lesser visual quality, your Roku Express will upgrade the picture to look much crisper.
Roku Streaming Stick Plus supports 4K high-dynamic-range (HDR), which is perfect for watching Holidate on Netflix in its highest quality. But while the Streaming Stick Plus provides Dolby Atmos support, it only works for a few services like Amazon Prime Video. Just keep in mind that Dolby Atmos isn’t the same as Dolby Vision. This is important to point out because Roku Streaming Stick streams content as HDR10 and therefore doesn’t support Dolby Vision HDR.
Roku Express vs. Roku Streaming Stick Plus compatibility
With Roku’s latest OS update, the majority of its 4K players now support AirPlay 2 along with other Apple-verse products like your iOS devices.
So, when it comes to compatibility, Roku has you covered for the most part. But if you’re in between the more affordable Roku Express and Roku Streaming Stick Plus, the latter integrates more third-party services simply because of its capabilities. Roku Express, on the other hand, might be good to improve an older TV but doesn’t share the same integration as the more popular Streaming Stick Plus.
The final cut
When comparing Roku Express vs. Roku Streaming Stick Plus, it really comes down to what your needs are. Do you want to make an older TV streaming-capable, but don’t want to invest a ton of money? Then, Roku Express will allow you to stream all of your favorite apps. But, if you want to upgrade your streaming quality and compatibility with third-party ecosystems, then join the millions who watch 4K movies and shows every day on their easily concealable Roku Streaming Stick Plus.