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The Best Roku Streaming Device

Last updated on March 17, 2019

We looked at the top 5 Streaming Devices and dug through the reviews from 46 of the most popular review sites including CNET, Tom's Guide, PC World, New York Times Wirecutter, Wired, Digital Trends and more. The result is a ranking of the best Streaming Devices.

DWYM Tip: 

Apple and Amazon also make great streaming devices.  Check out our review of the best overall streaming device.

Best Roku Streaming Device

Why Trust The DWYM Score?

DWYM is your trusted product review source. Along with our in-house experts, our team analyzes thousands of product reviews from the most trusted websites. We then create one easy-to-understand score. Learn more.

Look for the DWYM seal for products that are the best in a category.

Our experts reviewed the top 5 Streaming Devices and also dug through the reviews from 46 of the most popular review sites including CNET, Tom's Guide, PC World, New York Times Wirecutter, Wired, Digital Trends and more. The result is a ranking of the best of the best Streaming Devices.

Our Picks For The Top Streaming Devices

Our Take
Experts Included
Pros
Cons
  The Best Overall

Roku

Streaming Stick+

Overall Take

This top-of-the-line Roku device is the top recommend pick because it provides full support for 4K HD TV and Dolby sound. With support for the fastest Wi-Fi speeds, the Streaming Stick+ will offer the fastest browsing and uninterrupted streaming.

Experts Included
DWYM Electronics Experts plus CNET, The Verge, Tech Radar, Tom’s Guide, Digital Trends, New York Times Wirecutter. Along with user reviews from Amazon.
Pros
" The Roku Streaming Stick Plus delivers 4K and HDR video in a compact package for an affordable price."
Cons
"If you’re like me and you’re looking to light up both the Dolby Vision and Dolby Atmos lights in your home theater, the Roku probably isn’t for you."

Roku

Premier+

Overall Take

If you prefer a box design to the traditional streaming stick, the Roku Premiere+ is worth considering. You'll get support for the latest 4K HD TV technology while also enjoying the benefits of the freestanding design.

Experts Included
DWYM Electronics Experts plus New York Times Wirecutter, Wired, CNET, Digital Trends, PC Magazine. Along with user reviews from Amazon.
Pros
" The Roku Premiere+ is almost identical in function to the Streaming Stick+, but it exchanges the HDMI-stick design for a freestanding box design."
Cons
"The $60 Streaming Stick Plus and $100 Ultra are still the two best Rokus to buy, but if you want to save a few bucks (and your home 2.4GHz Wi-Fi is stable), the $50 Premiere Plus is a fantastic way..."
  The Best Value

Roku

Express

Overall Take

The Express comes at the lowest price of all the Roku models, so it's definitely budget-friendly. However, it lacks support for 4K HD TV. The Wi-Fi antenna also relies on older technology, which can result in slower streaming.

Experts Included
DWYM Electronics Experts plus CNET, Trusted Reviews, Tech Radar, Digital Trends, Tom’s Guide, TechHive. Along with user reviews from Amazon and Best Buy.
Pros
" Roku claims an operational speed that's 5x faster, and comparing the two, it felt pretty close to that at times"
Cons
"While scrolling lag has been minimised to be almost unnoticeable, loading and buffering times can be a little longer than you’ll notice on the £10-pricier Fire TV Stick."

Roku

Streaming Stick

Overall Take

For a slightly lower price, you can enjoy the same benefits you'd get with the Streaming Stick+ in this standard model. This edition includes voice-control capabilities on the remote, as well as fast streaming speeds and several other benefits found in the more expensive version.

Experts Included
DWYM Electronics Experts plus CNET, Tom’s Guide, PC World. Along with user reviews from Amazon and Target.
Pros
" For buyers who don't care about 4K or HDR streaming, the Roku Streaming Stick is the best player on the market."
Cons
"The only major downside of the Roku Streaming Stick is that it caps out at 1080p — although that's not really a problem, since the Roku Streaming Stick+ provides a 4K HDR experience in a similar form."
Don't just take for granted what one reviewer says. Along with our own experts, DWYM analyzes the top expert reviews of the leading products and generates a score you can actually trust.
12

Products Considered

We identified the majority of the streaming devices available to purchase.
5

Products Analyzed

We then selected the leading and most popular products to review and score.

View All Product Rankings

46

Expert Reviews Included

Reviews from our DWYM category experts and analysis of some of the most respected sources including: CNET, Tom's Guide, PC World, New York Times Wirecutter, Wired.

42,992

User Opinions Analyzed

We also incorporate user reviews from the leading retailers including Amazon, Target, Best Buy.

DWYM is your trusted roduct review source. Our team reviews thousands of product reviews from the trusted top experts and combines them into one easy-to-understand score. Learn more.

Look for the DWYM seal for products that are the best in their category.

The Best Overall

Roku Streaming Stick+

Expert Summarized Score
9.0
6 expert reviews
User Summarized Score
8.8
2,505 user reviews
The DWYM Expert Take

This top-of-the-line Roku device is the top recommend pick because it provides full support for 4K HD TV and Dolby sound. With support for the fastest Wi-Fi speeds, the Streaming Stick+ will offer the fastest browsing and uninterrupted streaming.

What other experts liked
The Roku Streaming Stick Plus delivers 4K and HDR video in a compact package for an affordable price.
- CNET
The Roku Streaming Stick Plus is another step along the path making 4K HDR just work, but until Vudu or Google or Amazon get it together and offer movies in HDR10, it’s not that much of an upgrade over an...
- The Verge
So far, there hasn’t been too much to criticize the Roku Streaming Stick+ about. And that’s because, as a standard 4K HDR10 streamer, Roku’s latest iteration of the streaming stick is an all-around great device.
- Tech Radar
In spite of a few quibbles about the remote control and some dated navigational issues, the Roku Streaming Stick+ is simply the most complete 4K HDR streaming device you can get for the price.
- Tom's Guide
The Roku Streaming Stick+ is the most sensible streaming TV device available this year. At $70, it delivers 4K HDR video with up to Dolby Atmos Audio, all through a user interface designed to appeal to a wide range of...
- Digital Trends
Improved Wi-Fi, support for 4K HDR, and Roku’s excellent interface and search features make this an easy choice as the best all-around streamer.
- New York Times Wirecutter
What other experts didn't like
The menus can seem dated compared to rivals, and some apps use old-school layouts.
- CNET
If you’re like me and you’re looking to light up both the Dolby Vision and Dolby Atmos lights in your home theater, the Roku probably isn’t for you.
- The Verge
The big place we could see Roku losing out to the competition down the road is on format support. Apple surprised many when it announced that it would support both Dolby Vision and Dolby Atmos, two new technologies that promise...
- Tech Radar
The Roku Streaming Stick+'s remote could have used an audio port. Watching your own content requires a media server. The search could stand to expand its depth in addition to its breadth.
- Tom's Guide
In terms of user interface, the Fire TV looks more polished, but isn’t as easy to use as Roku’s Streaming Stick+.
- Digital Trends
The user interface on some of the Roku apps isn’t as current as it could be. Most apps have now been updated to look current, with Spotify and HBO Now among those that were updated in the past year.
- New York Times Wirecutter

The Best Bang For Your Buck

Roku Express

Expert Summarized Score
7.5
6 expert reviews
User Summarized Score
8.6
4,793 user reviews
The DWYM Expert Take

The Express comes at the lowest price of all the Roku models, so it's definitely budget-friendly. However, it lacks support for 4K HD TV. The Wi-Fi antenna also relies on older technology, which can result in slower streaming.

What other experts liked
Roku claims an operational speed that's 5x faster, and comparing the two, it felt pretty close to that at times
- CNET
May 31, 2018 | Full review
With a comprehensive selection of apps, a straightforward interface and a neutral outlook, it challenges the Fire TV Stick and its more Amazon-focused experience.
- Trusted Reviews
July 6, 2018 | Full review
It’s a minor point, but the Roku Express is super simple to set up.
- Tech Radar
July 30, 2018 | Full review
It’s easy to set up and easy to use, with an awesome search function and a gargantuan selection of channels.
- Digital Trends
October 24, 2017 | Full review
For starters, menu navigation is now smoother, dropping the hiccups we saw in last year's model.
- Tom's Guide
October 13, 2017 | Full review
One could also argue that the Roku Express is good enough as a cheap gift or streamer for secondary televisions, especially now that its performance is much smoother.
- TechHive
November 20, 2017 | Full review
What other experts didn't like
I did run into more delays loading some apps compared to the more expensive Streaming Stick, but they didn't happen frequently enough to become frustrating.
- CNET
May 31, 2018 | Full review
While scrolling lag has been minimised to be almost unnoticeable, loading and buffering times can be a little longer than you’ll notice on the £10-pricier Fire TV Stick.
- Trusted Reviews
July 6, 2018 | Full review
The decision to use an 802.11b/g/n 2.4GHz Wi-Fi antenna instead of one that uses dual-band 802.11ac is a costly mistake that adds noticeable buffering time at the beginning of streams.
- Tech Radar
July 30, 2018 | Full review
The 802.11 b/g/n Wi-Fi adapter for the Express can only connect to networks up to 2.4GHz, and without an Ethernet port, it’s a step slower than its more expensive siblings.
- Digital Trends
October 24, 2017 | Full review
While the device streams practically everything under the sun, its curious design, slight lag and lacking remote keep it from becoming a star.
- Tom's Guide
October 13, 2017 | Full review
Unfortunately, the Roku Express still relies on single-band 802.11n Wi-Fi, which is a full generation behind the latest wireless standard used by all pricier Roku models.
- TechHive
November 20, 2017 | Full review

Overall Product Rankings

1. Roku Streaming Stick+
Overall Score: 9.0
Reviews Included: 7

2. Roku Premiere+
Overall Score: 8.3
Reviews Included: 6

3. Roku Express
Overall Score: 8.3
Reviews Included: 8

4. Roku Streaming Stick
Overall Score: 8.0
Reviews Included: 5

5. Roku Ultra
Overall Score: 7.9
Reviews Included: 4

An Overview On Streaming Devices

Streaming has revolutionized the way people watch TV. You no longer have to flip through the guide, choosing from what’s currently airing on a few hundred channels. Thanks to streaming services, you can access an unlimited number of TV shows, movies and documentaries at any time.

Although cable and satellite TV providers have made it increasingly easy to stream content, an increasing number of people are “cutting the cord,” which means they’re dropping expensive monthly subscription services in favor of streaming everything. With the right antenna, you can access local channels, and then combine that with subscriptions to services like Netflix and Hulu. If you’re an Amazon Prime member, you already have thousands of TV shows and movies included as part of that membership.

To access those services without a cable box, though, you’ll need a platform that will help you stream. Roku has become a leader in streaming devices, starting with a stick you plug into the HDMI port on your TV. But now you can also choose a Roku box, which is a small device that can discreetly hide in your entertainment cabinet or behind your TV.

But there are more factors in your choice of a streaming device than design. TV technology is constantly evolving, and streaming devices strive to keep up. Currently, even though 4K high-definition TVs have become mainstream, not as many shows are being streamed at that resolution. Still, an increasing number are, which makes it important you choose a streaming device that can support it. Whether you currently have a 4K HDTV or not, you may want to pick Roku hardware designed for it if you think you may upgrade in the near future.

With multiple Roku devices available, it’s important to pay close attention to the differences between models. Each new release seems to get better, as Roku builds in faster Wi-Fi antennas and better menus. You may see minimal differences in some of them initially, but when you factor in video and audio quality, along with features like remote voice control capabilities, the options can rapidly begin to narrow.

DWYM Fun Fact

Roku was founded in 2002 by Anthony Wood, best known as the inventor of the digital video recorder (DVR). The DVR revolutionized TV viewing by allowing consumers to record shows digitally rather than relying on videotapes.  Roku means “six” in Japanese, and the name came from Roku being the sixth company Wood founded. After founding Roku, Wood served briefly as the vice president of internet TV at Netflix. He created Roku while at Netflix as a way for consumers to easily stream internet content from the service. At the time, one of the biggest challenges facing internet video streaming was getting the content from the computer to the TV, and Roku helped bridge that gap.

The Streaming Device Buying Guide

  • It’s important to know that Roku’s devices are designed to link viewers to streaming apps. So in addition to your investment in the hardware, you’ll also need subscriptions to the services you want, whether it’s Hulu, Amazon Prime, Netflix, HBO or any of the many other services.
  • Format is the first noticeable difference between the different Roku models. The Streaming Stick and Streaming Stick+ are just what they sound like — sticks that plug into the HDMI port on your TV. The Roku Express and Premiere+ are boxes that connect to your TV’s HDMI port using a cable.
  • If you’re new to streaming sticks, you’re probably most concerned about how easy it is to set up. Whatever version you pick, setup is simply a matter of connecting the device and choosing the right input mode on your TV. The Roku will then walk you through the rest of the setup process.
  • Before you choose a streaming stick, take a look at your TV. If you have a 4K high-definition set, you’ll likely want to select a streaming device that will allow you to stream at that quality. Even if you don’t, ask yourself if you might be upgrading to a 4K TV in the future. The Streaming Stick and Express only provide support for up to 1080p, while the Premiere and Streaming Stick+ support 1080p, 4K, UHD, HDR10 and HLG.
  • As you’re deciding between streaming sticks, also note that even if you have a 4K TV and streaming device, you may not get 4K quality from many of the programs you watch. All of the major streaming services, including Hulu, Amazon Prime and Netflix, only offer limited original programming in 4K HD.
  • If you’re a true movie buff, great sound will likely be a high priority for you. Both the Streaming Stick and Streaming Stick+, as well as the Express, support Dolby Audio and DTS Digital Surround, offering top-quality audio. Premiere+, on the other hand, doesn’t. So if audio is important to you, that will narrow your choices a bit.
  • Wi-Fi strength is vital when you’re relying on it to stream video, especially if you’re watching content in 4K HD. This is where you’ll probably gravitate toward the Streaming Sticks, which have a faster 802.11ac antenna. With the older antennas on both the Express and Premiere+, you’ll likely notice slower performance and, at times, buffering issues.
  • Streaming video is only one issue you’ll run into with slower Wi-Fi speeds. The Express is especially slower to load apps when compared to the Streaming Stick and Streaming Stick+.
  • Each Roku device comes with a remote that you use to search and navigate. Since entering program names using a remote can be time-consuming and frustrating, many newer remotes rely heavily on voice control. This is another area that the Express lacks in since it doesn’t include voice control. Both Streaming Sticks and the Premiere+ include voice control.
  • Although having a box instead of a stick is handy, you may want to think about how important it is. The most expensive of the devices is the Premiere+, which sells in the $80-plus range. Compare this to the feature-packed Streaming Sticks, which you should be able to find for around $50. If you simply want to stream and don’t mind not having the most updated device, you can usually buy the Roku Express for less than $30.
  • One of the best things about the Roku is that it’s portable. That means you can take it on the road with you. Just plug it into any TV with an HDMI port and start watching your favorite shows.
  • In addition to linking up to your subscription services, you can also mirror your smartphone or laptop screen to your TV using your streaming device. This only works with Windows or Android, but you can cast content from services like YouTube and Netflix to your device using your Apple equipment.