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The best Roku devices for every home and every budget

Roku Streaming Stick 4K (2021)
Roku Streaming Stick 4K
The best Roku player overall
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Roku Express
Roku Express
The best Roku device for those on a budget
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Roku Ultra (2020)
Roku Ultra (2020)
The best Roku player for home theaters
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Roku Streambar
Roku Streambar
The best Roku player for enhanced sound
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Hisense Class U6G Series Quantum ULED 4K UHD Smart Roku TV
Hisense 65-Inch U6GR ULED Roku TV
The best Roku-powered TV
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Competitively priced, lightning-fast, and packed with apps, features, and plenty of customizations, Roku offers one of the most personalized and accessible platforms of any of the best streaming devices on the market. And whether you're looking to outfit an existing TV with streaming apps or want to upgrade the tinny sound creeping out of your LCD's lackluster speakers, there's a Roku device that is guaranteed to solve the problem.

If you've been thinking about jumping into this world with maybe a Roku stick or Roku box but aren't sure where to start, we've put together this roundup of the best Roku players for every home and budget to help you get started.

roku streaming stick 4k review 2021 2
Phil Nickinson/Digital Trends / Digital Trends

Roku Streaming Stick 4K

The best Roku player overall

Pros
  • Affordable
  • Easy to use
  • All the features you want
Cons
  • Roku's advertising scheme means tracking

Why you should buy it: It's one of the best (and cheapest) ways to experience a wide assortment of 4K content on your new UHD set.

Who it's for: Households looking to dive into the world of 4K movies and TV shows at a reasonable cost.

Why we picked the Roku Streaming Stick 4K:

Across the board, Roku's user interface is about as friendly and customizable as it gets for a smart streaming platform. And when it comes to delivering big picture tech through a bite-sized device, the Roku Streaming Stick 4K is one of the best $40 hookups you're going to find.

Delivering a 30% boost in speed when compared to traditional Roku hardware, the Streaming Stick 4K allows you to experience movies and TV shows in stunning UHD quality from some of the top streaming apps on the market, such as Netflix, Amazon Prime, and Disney Plus.

The Streaming Stick 4K also handles Dolby Vision and HDR10 picture standards, and Dolby Atmos support for the ultimate surround sound experience. While you'll need an HDR-capable TV and compatible Atmos peripherals to experience these impressive picture and sound deliverables, we can't think of a better way to unleash the power of 4K than the Roku Streaming Stick 4K.

And if you're looking for the best remote Roku has to offer, the Streaming Stick 4K+ comes with Roku's Voice Remote Pro, featuring an onboard rechargeable battery and a handy "find my remote" function for locating your misplaced Roku controller the next time it gets wedged between the couch cushions.

Roku Streaming Stick 4K (2021)
Roku Streaming Stick 4K
The best Roku player overall
roku express 2019 review 1
Image used with permission by copyright holder

Roku Express

The best Roku device for those on a budget

Pros
  • Price
  • Performance
  • Fantastic Search
  • Tiny size
Cons
  • No voice remote
  • No Ethernet

Why you should buy it: It's the most affordable way to join the Roku streaming ecosystem.

Who it's for: Those who want an ultra-affordable way to get into streaming — and who don't need 4K resolution or HDR.

Why we picked the Roku Express:

It really doesn't get any simpler, easier, or cheaper to get going with a great streaming experience than the Roku Express. As long as your TV has an available HDMI port, this $30 device gives you access to the entire Roku platform of streaming apps and services, in Full HD.

Granted, it doesn't do 4K resolution, and it doesn't offer support for high-dynamic range (HDR), but that's sort of the point: By cutting some bells and whistles that you can't enjoy (because perhaps your TV is older or your internet connection is on the slow side), you can save at least $20 on the cost of a capable media streamer.

What you do get is a streaming device that comes with everything you need: an infrared remote, the Roku Express, an HDMI cable, and a USB power cable and adapter. Simply plug everything in, fire up your TV, switch it to the right input, and you're on your way. It only takes a few minutes to set up the Roku Express on your home Wi-Fi.

What's clever about the Express is that even though it's Roku's least-expensive streamer, it still packs many of the same features you'll find in the company's top-of-the-line devices, thanks to the free Roku app.

It lets you control the Express from a smartphone with your voice and cast your photos and videos to your TV. The app also lets you turn on private listening, so you can use your phone or tablet to hear what your Roku Express is playing without disturbing anyone else.

You also get access to the Roku Channel, which has a huge collection of free on-demand and livestreaming, ad-supported content, with more than 115 free live TV streaming channels.

Finally, the Express is compatible with both Google Assistant and Amazon's Alexa, so you can control it with your voice if you have a compatible smart speaker at home.

Roku Express
Roku Express
The best Roku device for those on a budget
The Roku Ultra (2020) with remote.
Roku

Roku Ultra (2020)

The best Roku player for home theaters

Pros
  • Supports multiple 4K HDR codecs
  • Fast Wi-Fi performance
  • Latest version comes with Roku Voice Remote Pro
  • Built-in Ethernet port
Cons
  • On the expensive side

Why you should buy it: The Roku Ultra is the most powerful Roku player there is.

Who it's for: Those who want a 4K media streamer that supports every major streaming format, plus tons of extra features.

Why we picked the Roku Ultra (2020):

The 2019 edition of the Roku Ultra was already a compelling media streamer, but its lack of support for Dolby Vision and Dolby Atmos decoding kept it from being our top pick. Roku clearly paid attention to this because the new 2020 edition fixes both omissions.

The result is a $100 powerhouse media streamer that can do more than devices that cost double.

Let's start with the basics. The Ultra has a USB port, so you can watch movies or photos (or listen to music) stored on an external hard drive or USB drive. It has an Ethernet port, so you can choose between a wired or wireless network connection. And it's the only standalone Roku player that has Bluetooth for streaming a variety of audio from your phone, tablet, or laptop to your TV or soundbar.

The advanced RF remote includes TV controls for power, volume, and mute, plus it has a built-in headphone jack, so you can use the private listening feature without needing the Roku app. And yes, it comes with a set of earbuds, so you don't need to go looking for yours. Speaking of the remote, the Ultra has a lost-remote finder. Just press the remote-finder button on the side of the streamer, and your remote will start beeping so you can figure out if it's between the cushions, under the couch, or somewhere else entirely.

Additionally, in May, Roku began packaging the newer and better Roku Voice Remote Pro with the Ultra, which adds hands-free commands and a rechargeable battery to the proceedings.

But the big news for audio and video connoisseurs is the Ultra's inclusion of Dolby Atmos and Dolby Vision. With native decoding of Dolby Atmos, Netflix (and every other service that supports Atmos) will deliver this 3D surround-sound format to the Ultra, which can then pass it along to your Atmos-capable TV, soundbar, or A/V receiver.

The same thing is true for Dolby Vision. If your TV supports this high-end HDR format, the Ultra can deliver it.

Roku Ultra (2020)
Roku Ultra (2020)
The best Roku player for home theaters
The Roku Streambar on a media console.
Roku

Roku Streambar

The best Roku player for enhanced sound

Pros
  • All-in-one soundbar and streaming device
  • Supports HDR10 and HLG HDR formats
  • Uses HDMI ARC
  • Great sound
Cons
  • Not the most powerful soundbar

Why you should buy it: It combines a high-quality TV speaker and a 4K Roku media streamer into one, easy-to-use gadget.

Who it's for: Those who want an instant upgrade for their crappy TV speakers with great sound and Roku simplicity.

Why we picked the Roku Streambar:

For less than the price of an Apple TV 4K, the Roku Streambar incorporates a nice mix of the features found in devices like the Streaming Stick+ and the Ultra to create a one-box solution for most of our modern media needs.

For a single-cable connection, simply connect the Streambar to an available HDMI ARC port on your TV. But if your TV doesn't have HDMI ARC, you can use the HDMI cable to send video to your TV and use the Streambar's optical port to receive audio from the TV.

From there, it's the same easy-to-use Roku interface as Roku's other devices, with access to all of the same great streaming apps, channels, and services. It can do 4K resolution (or just HD if that's what your TV supports), and it also handles HDR10 and HLG HDR formats.

The RF remote lets you use your voice for commands and search and can control your TV's power, too. The volume and mute buttons control the Streambar's sound, and there are a wealth of ways to adjust the audio through the bar's built-in EQ system.

With four full-range drivers angled to bounce sound around a room, the Streambar should sound pretty good on its own. But if you decide to move it to a bigger room (or you just want a more immersive experience), you can expand it with the $180 Roku Wireless Subwoofer and the $200 Roku TV Wireless Speakers.

With built-in Bluetooth, the Streambar can also act as a standalone wireless speaker for your phone, tablet, or laptop's music collection.

Roku Streambar
Roku Streambar
The best Roku player for enhanced sound
The Hisense 65-Inch U6GR.
Image used with permission by copyright holder

Hisense 65-Inch U6GR ULED Roku TV

The best Roku-powered TV

Pros
  • Quantum dot technology
  • 60 zones of local dimming
  • Google Assistant support
  • Competitive price
Cons
  • Lacks Alexa support

Why you should buy it: It's the perfect combination of excellent Hisense picture and Roku's immersive smart TV platform.

Who it's for: Those looking for a TV with awesome picture quality, in a decent size, for a great cost.

Why we picked the Hisense 65-Inch U6GR:

When it comes to the leading names in the TV marketplace, Hisense is a TV brand that has made headway as a budget-friendly option with a ton of variety as far as operating systems go. And, of course, the U6GR is driven by the Roku TV streaming platform and user interface, which affords you access to the hundreds of apps that Roku offers, along with AirPlay 2 and Google Assistant support. At 65 inches, the ULED U6GR harnesses the company's quantum dot technology and 4K resolution to deliver an all-immersive kind of picture quality, complete with rich colors, powerful brightness, and unbeatable contrast.

You'll also find support for Dolby Vision and Dolby Atmos, making it a great all-rounder at an affordable price.

Hisense Class U6G Series Quantum ULED 4K UHD Smart Roku TV
Hisense 65-Inch U6GR ULED Roku TV
The best Roku-powered TV

Editors' Recommendations

Simon Cohen

Simon Cohen covers a variety of consumer technologies, but has a special interest in audio and video products, like spatial audio, whole-home music systems, wireless earbuds and headphones, 4K HDR TVs, and soundbars. He has written for Ozy.com, Mobilesyrup, Driving.ca, and VentureBeat, and appeared as a guest tech expert on international TV and radio programs, including BBC Radio, CTV News Channel, and CBC Radio. He is currently a full-time contributor to Digital Trends' Audio/Video section.

Michael Bizzaco

Michael Bizzaco has been writing about and working with consumer tech for well over a decade, writing about everything from A/V components and smart home devices to encryption software, cloud backup platforms, search engine tools, and more. He has written for Digital Trends for over three years, covering entertainment content, A/V, and smart home devices.

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