Roku revamps entire line, adds 4K HDR models, stick-on form factor, $30 Express

Roku has replaced its entire line-up of streaming gadgets (with the exception of the new Streaming Stick which launched earlier this year) with new models, some offering 4K with HDR support, and ranging in prices that now start at as low as USD $29.99.  Here’s the run-down.

Roku Ultra (USD $129.99 / CDN $139.99)


Sporting a quad-core processor and support for 4K UHD and HDR at up to 60 fps, the Roku Ultra is HDCP 2.2 compatible and also has the greatest number of ports and output options. The top-of-the-line Roku has HDMI, Optical S/PDIF, Ethernet, microSD (for channel storage) and USB (for external media) and introduces a slightly revamped form-factor which is smaller and shorter than the previous Roku 4, but with a bigger footprint than the Roku 2 & 3. It shares this body with its less expensive siblings, the Premiere and Premiere Plus (see below). The Ultra preserves the Roku 4’s remote finder function (which lets you trigger a customizable alert from the remote’s internal speaker) and remote-based listening via headphones, but now adds the remote listening feature via the Roku app for Android and iOS — something which had been exclusive to the new Roku Streaming Stick. The Ultra now becomes the only Roku that can do gaming and voice search from its remote.

HDR support is a step-up feature from the Roku 4, as is Dolby Digital / Dolby Digital Plus decoding, but for now HDR is limited to the HDR 10 format. No word on whether Roku intends to add support for Dolby Vision HDR or if the hardware inside the Ultra is compatible with it.

Because 4K and HDR are kind of a big deal for owners of 4K TVs — much like HD was back when that format was making its initial waves — Roku will be adding a 4K spotlight to its menu, so you can see at-a-glance all of the 4K content you have access to. HDR content will also be tagged as such, but not highlighted in its own menu item.

In the box: Roku Ultra, high-speed HDMI cable, stereo earbuds, MicroUSB cable for power, power adapter, RF remote control

Amazon Roku

Roku Premiere+ (USD $99.99 / CDN $109.99)


Dropping down in price by $30, from the Ultra to the new Premiere+ you lose the optical S/PDIF and USB ports, the remote finder, and remote-based voice search and game control, but you still get 4K UHD and HDR at 60fps which makes the Premiere+ the least expensive way to get 4K HDR streaming on the Roku platform. The remote control is RF-based “point anywhere” and includes the same plug-in earbuds for remote listening that you’ll find on the Ultra. Similarly, it has the Ultra’s super-fast 802.11 AC MIMO dual-band Wi-Fi.

In the box: Roku Premier+, high-speed HDMI cable, stereo earbuds, MicroUSB cable for power, power adapter, RF remote control

Amazon Roku

Roku Premiere (USD $79.99 / CDN $89.99)


If 4K streaming is what you really want, the Premiere is the least expensive way to get it. Compared to the Premiere+ and Ultra, it’s a bare-bones experience. No HDR, no microSD slot, no USB port, and its remote is IR-only, so you’ll need line-of-sight to the box. There’s still remote listening and voice search support via the free Roku app, however, and its 802.11 AC MIMO dual-band support means those 4K streams should run effortlessly even without Ethernet (provided adequate bandwidth is available at the location). The Roku Premiere is a budget-friendly way to add Roku’s brand of 4K streaming to your new 4K TV.

In the box: Roku Premiere, high-speed HDMI cable, MicroUSB cable for power, power adapter, IR remote control

Amazon Roku

Roku Express+ (USD $39.99 / CDN $49.99)


The Express+ introduces a new form factor for Roku. It’s a little bigger than a Streaming Stick, and a lot smaller than any previous set-top box model. It kind of reminds us of a Wii sensor bar, albeit a short, black and stubby one. This 1080p streamer includes both HDMI and analog video outputs for older TVs — apparently consumer demand for this feature remains high enough that Roku felt the need to support it. Because it’s so small, there will be a tendency for the attached cables (included) to push the Express+ around. Roku solves this by including a small adhesive strip that can be used to mount the Express+ pretty much anywhere you like, as long as you’ve got line-of-sight between the Express+ and the included IR-based remote. WiFi support is b/g/n which ought to be fast enough for full 1080p as long as you’re not located too far from your router.

Neither the Express+ and it’s HDMI-only twin, the Express (below), support 4K or HDR, but at these prices, that’s hardly a surprise. You still get access to all 3,500 Roku channels in the U.S. (2,500 in Canada) and the full feature set of the Roku app, including remote listening and voice search.

In Canada, Walmart has an in-store exclusive on this model.

In the box: Roku Express+, high-speed HDMI cable, composite video cable, MicroUSB cable for power, power adapter, IR remote control


Roku Express (USD $29.99 / CDN $39.99)


Identical to the Express+ in nearly every way, the Roku Express is $10 cheaper because it lacks an analog output and analog video cables. At USD $29.99, the Roku Express now has a five dollar price edge on Google’s Chromecast, the previous value leader in the streaming gadget space. When you consider that the Roku Express also comes with a dedicated remote, that price point starts to look like a no-brainer for those who have yet to join the streaming game.

In the box: Roku Express, high-speed HDMI cable, MicroUSB cable for power, power adapter, IR remote control

Amazon Roku

Expect these new Roku devices to hit store shelves sometime later next month. Also, keep your eyes peeled for discounts on older Roku models as retailers make way for the newer gear. Roku wouldn’t offer any specifics on sale prices, noting instead that it would be at the discretion of each seller.

Product Review

Samsung’s Galaxy Buds are a brilliant combination of value and comfort

With six hours of battery life, an extremely comfortable fit, sweatproofing, and a very palatable price tag, Samsung’s Galaxy Buds are putting all other true wireless earbuds on notice.
Home Theater

Here's a handy guide to mirroring your favorite devices to your TV screen

A vast arsenal of devices exists to allow sending anything on your mobile device (or PC) to your TV. Our in-depth guide shows you how to mirror content from your smartphone or tablet to the big screen.

Need a new tablet? Here are the best iPad deals for February 2019

In the wide world of tablets, Apple is still the king. If you're on team Apple and just can't live without iOS, we've curated an up-to-date list of all of the best iPad deals currently available for December 2018.

Amazon cuts prices on the Apple Watch Series 3 for Presidents’ Day

The Apple Watch Series 3 is seeing the same price cut we saw during the Amazon sale just last week. So if you're hoping to pick up an Apple Watch for less than $250, this $50 discount from Amazon can make that happen for you.

This discounted smartwatch is a cheap Apple Watch or Fitbit Versa alternative

The Amazfit Bip isn't an Apple Watch or Fitbit Versa, but at the discounted price of $67, it's a very affordable alternative packed with useful features. With built-in GPS and 30-day battery life, this cheap smartwatch is a great option to…

Great PC speakers don't need to break the bank. These are our favorites

Not sure which PC speakers work best with your computer? Here are the best computer speakers on the market, whether you're working with a tight budget or looking to rattle your workstation with top-of-the-line audio components.
Movies & TV

LeBron James’ Space Jam 2 gets an official release date

LeBron James has brought on Black Panther director Ryan Coogler to produce his upcoming Space Jam sequel, with Terence Nance attached to direct the film. Space Jam 2 is expected to hit theaters in July 2021.
Home Theater

Apple may be making noise-canceling headphones safer to use on the streets

Over-the-ear headphones are massively popular, but they block a lot of outside sounds, which increases the risk of accidents. A new Apple invention hints at a way to have great sound, and great safety, and it might be coming soon.
Movies & TV

Battle of the movie ticket sites: How to make sense of the fledgling industry

MoviePass may be the industry leader in subscription-based movie ticket sales, but the company's troubles have opened the door for competitors AMC Stubs A-List, Sinemia, and Cinemark Movie Club. Here's how the services compare.
Home Theater

Bask in the glory of your home theater with these 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray movies

What good is a 4K TV if you don't have the means of pushing it to its limits? Here are our favorite 4K Ultra HD Blu-rays, all of which are nothing short of stunning. It'll make you wonder why you haven't always watched movies this way.
Home Theater

Get the most boom for your buck with the best headphones under $100

Everybody wants a bargain, and this list has a bunch. For those looking for a solid set of headphones without spending a big stack of cash, this list is is your starting point. Check out our picks for the best headphones under $100.
Home Theater

Wireless headphones are finally awesome, and these are our favorites

With sleek form factors, prime audio quality, and the freedom of untethered listening, there has never been a better time to pick up a pair of wireless headphones. These are the best ones currently available.
Home Theater

Apple is arming up to redefine TV just like it did the phone

Curious about what Apple's answer to Netflix will be? Us too. So we combed through some patents, and looked at the landscape, to come up with a bold prediction: Apple's streaming service will be way bigger than anyone thinks.
Home Theater

The best noise-canceling headphones paint your music on a cleaner canvas

Drowning out the sound of babies, jet engines, and the outside world isn't as difficult as it seems. Here are the best noise-canceling headphones, whether you're concerned with style, comfort, or sound.