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

Update July 15, 2019: Note that all of these prices are LOWER THAN LISTED FOR AMAZON PRIME DAY!!! Happy Roku'ing!

Roku has too many streaming products. OK, probably not too many for the company. These things run the gamut from $25 to $89. (Or sometimes even less when things are on sale.) But that doesn't change the fact that there essentially are four Roku (Rokus? Roki?) from which you need to choose. Five if you throw a whole TV into the mix.

The question is which Roku is right for you.

Here are the best Roku devices in 2019:

Best Rokus in 2019:

  1. 1. Roku Ultra — Best overall
  2. 2. Roku Streaming Stick+ — Best streaming stick
  3. 3. Roku Premiere — Best 4K for less
  4. 4. Roku TV — Best All-in-one
  5. 5. Roku Wireless Speakers — Best for sound
  6. 6. Best on a budget — Roku Express

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. That said, Roku announced that its biggest sellers for 2018 came in at less than $50.

The good news is that none of Roku's products breaks the bank, even at the top end. So let's take a look. Here are the quick links to what we recommend:

  1. Roku Ultra ($89): This is the best Roku box you can currently buy. It's got 4K support, Wifi 5 (aka 802.11ac), expandable storage and an Ethernet port.
  2. Roku Streaming Stick+ ($59): With this one you get 4K support and Wifi 5, but no Ethernet or expandable storage.
  3. Roku Premiere ($39): This gets you 4K resolution at a low, low price, but it only has Wifi 4. (That's 802.11n.)
  4. Roku TV (price varies): You can get some excellent (and inexpensive) TVs with the Roku operating system built in.
  5. Roku Wireless Speakers ($199): These wireless speakers work with Roku TV (only) and make setup a breeze.

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.

The stick to get

Roku Streaming Stick+ ($49)

Not quite as powerful as the Ultra — 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. It does, however, work with Wifi 5 (aka 802.11ac). If you're going to get a Roku stick, this is the one to get over the newer Roku Premiere. (Which does 4K but has lesser network connectivity.)

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. If don't need 4K resolution, you can get away with a regular Streaming Stick.

No 4K

Roku Streaming Stick ($39)

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.

Worse Wifi

Roku Premiere ($39)

Roku Premiere is the newest mini-box in the bunch. It lands at just $39 and does 4K resolution, but its wireless networking tops out at Wifi 4 (aka 802.11n). That's a really weird combination, and it's something we can't really recommend. Video at 4K resolution needs a lot of bandwidth. And very few among us have ever said "Ya know, I wish I had less bandwidth." You've got to be pretty secure in your wireless network to want to save $20 that badly. And let's face it, most Roku customers probably aren't too picky about their packets.

If you need 4K in a smaller (and less expensive) form factor, we'd go with the Roku Streaming Stick+ instead. That extra $20 may mean the difference between annoying buffering, and smooth streaming.

Walmart Exclusive

Roku Premiere+ ($49)

This is exactly the same product as the Roku Premiere, only it includes a voice remote, and is sold exclusively at Walmart. Otherwise, same great 4K, same lesser Wifi.

And the same recommendation rules apply. Snag this if you know you don't need better Wifi. Otherwise, we'd pass.


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.

A smart buy

Roku TV (From $219)

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.

Listen up!

Roku TV Wireless Speakers ($199)

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're probably not going to get the world's best sound out of these things. We'll just have to see once we have them, though. (And for what it's worth, Roku says we'll be surprised.

More odd is that these speakers only work with Roku-powered televisions. There are a lot of those, to be sure, but note that they do not currently work with any other Roku devices.

Updated January 2019: Updated pricing (which is always subject to change) for the new year.



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