Roku Ultra Roku Ultra ($99 or less at Amazon) is the best Roku you can buy.

Roku has too many streaming products. OK, probably not too many for the company. These things run the gamut from $29 to $89. (Or less when things are on sale.) But that doesn't change the fact that there are five Roku from which you need to choose. More if you throw a whole damn TV into the mix.

The question is which Roku is right for you.

As a general rule, I say this: Spend a little more on hardware than you want to. Don't put yourself in debt, but the bottom line is you get what you pay for when it comes to tech stuff. A cheap streaming stick simply isn't as powerful as a more expensive, larger box.

The good news is that none of Roku's products breaks the bank, even at the top end. So let's take a look.

Our top pick: Roku Ultra ($89)

This is the top-end Roku box (it's really just the size of a couple decks of cards), and it's the one we recommend. Why? It's the most bang for your buck. Boxes are faster than sticks. It's got 4K resolution, with HDR. An Ethernet port (for better streaming speed and reliability), plus external storage support via microSD cards and USB.

Plus the remote control has a headphone jack for private listening, and a couple extra buttons for playing any of the games available in Roku's stable.

At less than $100 (especially when on sale), it'll last you the longest and perform the best. Spend a few extra bucks and get this one.

Roku Streaming Stick+ ($65)

Not quite as powerful — and in a smaller form factor — this stick plugs straight into your TV's HDMI port. It still does 4K resolution and HDR. But it lacks and Ethernet port and external storage.

This stick replaced the Roku 4 box, and it claims greater Wifi range than the basic Roku stick, because part of that antenna is built into the power cable. There's no private headphone jack on the remote control.

If you just have to have this form factor, it'll do you well. But a few extra dollars for the Ultra will go that much farther.

Roku Streaming Stick ($35)

You're basically looking at the same stick as the Plus. But this model tops out at 1080p resolution. While there definitely are times when you don't need 4K, you'll lose out on the extended Wifi — and we'd argue that's a bigger deal.

On the other hand, if the TV you'll be using doesn't do 4K and is close to a wireless router with a good connection, then maybe $50 is all you need to spend.

Roku Express ($29, $35)

There are two models of Roku Express — and they're both kind of a mini-box — but we're going to lump them in together. The less expensive of the two is the most basic streamer Roku has to offer. It does 1080p video and has 802.11n Wifi. It's what you get someone if you want them to start streaming but don't want them to have better hardware. (We've all done it. It's OK.)

The more expensive of the two Express models will output video via a composite cable — basically you'll only get this if you want to stream to a TV that lacks HDMI ports.

Again, you'll get a better experience out of better hardware. But this is better than nothing.

Roku TV ($299-$829)

Now this is a fun little option if you prefer your streaming stick software built in to the TV. Roku has a line of TVs in partnership with TCL that use the Roku operating system as the default. That means no need for an additional stick, which is helpful in certain niche cases — I have one of these mounted on a porch — or if you just want to keep things really simple.

The upside is that these aren't expensive TVs. The downside? The hardware powering the Roku end of things isn't all that powerful, and so the experience is a lot slower than if you were using, say, a Roku Ultra. So much so that it's tough to recommend as a primary device. But it's still an interesting option.

Roku TV Wireless Speakers

These bookshelf-style speakers are made specifically for use with Roku players. They come with a voice remote and a new tabletop remote control. Each powered speaker has a single tweeter and a single woofer. And as you'd judge from the price — you can preorder at $149, but they'll retail at $199 once they launch in October 2018 — you're probably not going to get the world's best sound out of these things.

More odd is that these speakers only work with Roku systems — their set-top boxes and televisions.

Updated July 17, 2018: Added the new wireless speakers, and updated pricing. (Which is always subject to change.)



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