Roku Smart TV: prices, features, and how it works

When you think of Roku, you probably think of its array of streaming players. Whether it’s sleek boxes or USB-type sticks like the Streaming Stick+, the company is renowned for its external devices. But Roku smart TVs shouldn’t be overlooked for they’re the easiest way to integrate Roku features straight into your TV screen.

Both major streaming services and free content can be accessed via a Roku TV. If you’re wondering how much they cost and what else they can do, here’s everything you need to know about Roku smart TVs.

How do Roku TVs work?

What is Roku TV, and why should you consider buying one? It’s simple. While standalone streaming devices need to be plugged into a TV to work, Roku TVs don’t need any extra equipment. Unlike regular TVs, these smart TVs are geared up for streaming. All they need is a good Wi-Fi connection. 

What’s important to know is that Roku doesn’t make TVs. It allows several TV manufacturers to add the Roku OS to varying models. Roku TVs are currently made by the likes of Hisense, Hitachi, JVC, Philips, Sharp, and TLC. They come with all the benefits of Roku’s normal streaming players, including innovative remotes and an easy-to-use interface. Plus, the same thousands of apps are available to browse through.

Connecting your Roku TV to devices

Besides saving you time and space, this direct-access streaming option can connect to a bunch of useful devices. Connect an antenna for access to free local networks, or use the HDMI ports for Blu-ray players, game consoles, and more. You can also wirelessly connect to Roku’s Wireless Speakers or invest in Roku’s Smart Soundbar or Wireless Subwoofer for a mega surround sound setup. If you want to mirror the screen of your phone or tablet, you can do that too. Access everything via the same home screen.

Setting up your Roku TV

Setting up a Roku TV is a breeze. Once it’s switched on, a Roku page will appear on the screen. Choose your language and country and pick which router you’d like to connect to. After you’ve entered your Wi-Fi password, you’ll need to create a Roku account. Enter a username and password as well as your address and a form of payment. (Roku is free to use, but you’ll be charged to rent and buy certain titles or to use certain subscription services.) 

Next, you’ll be prompted to enter an activation code on Roku’s site. The home menu will then pop up on your TV screen. If you’d like to link other devices to your Roku TV, you can do so during the setup process. If an antenna is in place, your TV will also search for local channels.

How Roku TVs stack up to the competition

Here’s how Roku TVs compare to some other popular smart TVs:

 Roku TVsAmazon Fire TVsAndroid TVs
ManufacturersATVIO, Element, Hisense, Hitachi, JVC, Magnavox, Onn, Philips, Polaroid, RCA, Sanyo, TCL, WestinghouseInsignia, ToshibaHisense, JBL, NVIDIA, Philips, Sharp, Skyworth, Sony
Price$100 to $3,000$150 to $400$150 to $2,500
Display24 to 75 inches32 to 58 inches32 to 75 inches
ResolutionHD, 4KHD, 4KHD, 4K
Smart featuresThousands of apps, voice control, Alexa and Google Assistant compatibility, companion mobile app, pause live TV, automatic updatesHundreds of apps, Bluetooth, Alexa remote, voice control, automatic updatesGoogle Play app store, voice control, Bluetooth, Google Assistant, Chromecast
Account needed?YesYes (to access all content)Yes (to buy or rent)

How much do Roku smart TVs cost?

One of the cheaper Roku TVs will generally cost a little over $100. But the most expensive models can carry a much higher price. Some are around $3,000. If you’re happy with a small screen that’s limited to high-definition (HD) playback, consider one of the lower-priced options. If you want a huge TV with 4K capabilities and advanced features, you’ll have to pay the big bucks.

TCL’S Roku TVs will usually be your first port of call — the manufacturer has one of the biggest selections around. Its range starts with 32-inch displays and goes all the way up to 75-inch screens. Prices can range from $150 for TCL’s 4 Series to thousands of dollars for the high dynamic range (HDR) quantum dot LED (QLED) 8 Series. Hisense’s highest price point is around $1,000, but its R7 series is an affordable 4K option to look at. Grab a 50-inch model for about $300. Sharp sells 4K Roku TVs for a similar price, along with HD displays for less than $150.

Roku’s other devices also come at various price points. The Roku Express is the cheapest streaming player. For faster processing and more advanced features, check out the pricier Roku Ultra

Roku Home Screen

What features do Roku TVs have?

Thousands of channels

With any Roku TV, you’ll have access to more than 500,000 episodes and movies. Some can be found on free apps (also known as channels); others will require you to subscribe to a paid streaming service or two. The Roku Channel is one place to watch free content and to subscribe to premium networks. It features almost 20 live channels, including sports and news. Sign up for a live TV service like Hulu + Live TV or Philo to catch all your favorite cable networks. For premium on-demand content, choose from Amazon Prime, Disney+, and Netflix. Homes with an antenna can quickly tune into local channels too.

Time-saving remote

When you buy a Roku TV, you don’t need a separate remote to enjoy Roku features. Each model comes with one remote to control both your streaming services and your TV’s power and volume. They include shortcut keys to popular platforms like Hulu and Sling TV. And some remotes feature voice control technology, so you can play, pause, and search just by speaking.

Smart search

Content on Roku is spread across thousands of apps. Roku’s Universal Search function means you can search for a title, an actor, or even a famous line from a movie and receive a list of results from every available platform. If money is involved, it’ll also list results from the cheapest to the most expensive.

Alexa assistance

If you don’t have a voice-enabled remote, connect your Roku TV to your Alexa or Google Assistant device. As well as controlling playback, launching apps, and searching for content, Roku TV owners can use their smart home devices to turn on the TV, change the volume, and change channels or inputs.

Nifty app

Roku’s free mobile app is yet another way to control your TV with your voice. But it does much more than that. Download it to any iOS or Android device to quickly search for titles and cast content from your phone or tablet straight to the big screen. Plus, you and up to three friends can use headphones to watch TV without waking up the household.

The final cut

Buying a Roku TV means buying a straightforward way to access over-the-air channels and online streaming. With a range of sizes and prices, Roku TVs will suit any cord-cutting household. And thanks to automatic software updates, you won’t have to invest in a new TV to take advantage of the latest features. Cutting costs across the board — what’s not to love?

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