What is Roku? What you need to know about popular streaming devices



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A recent poll from CBS News found that only 45% of Americans still watch cable or satellite TV. If you are also looking to cut the cord on pay TV, consider a Roku streaming media player.

Here’s what you need to know before you buy.

What is Roku doing?

Operation similar to Amazon Fire TV and Apple TV 4K, Roku devices are small streaming boxes or streaming sticks that connect to your television. They stream content from Netflix, Spotify, Hulu, Disney + and more (subscriptions required) in one easy-to-find place on a TV screen. They also offer access to plenty of free content, including over 190 streaming channels available for free on the Roku channel and over 250 channels available for free through Pluto TV.

(Note: CBS Essentials and Pluto TV are both subsidiaries of ViacomCBS.)

How does Roku work?

Roku streams content through your home internet connection, so you’ll need broadband speeds of at least 1.5 Mbps for standard definition and 3.0 Mbps for HD content as a minimum.

Roku boxes and streaming sticks are controlled with the included, easy-to-use Roku remote control. Some Roku remotes support voice commands and have a headphone jack. And if the Roku remote is misplaced, don’t worry: Roku devices can also be controlled through the Roku app on your phone or tablet.

The Roku interface is one of the easiest to use and can be customized to showcase the most used streaming apps right at the top of the menu.


Who should get a Roku?

Roku is a popular budget option among those looking to cut cable from pay TV cable – there is no monthly cost to use the device (other than any premium streaming subscription you pay for anyway, like Netflix. ).

Roku boxes and streaming sticks are popular for people looking to make a high-tech upgrade to older TVs, as well as those just looking for a simpler interface. Some smart TVs come with Roku technology already built in.

Which Roku is best for me?

Choosing the best Roku device for you depends on the type of TV you want to upgrade. Older TVs won’t require advanced features like 4K support – a basic Roku device will do. For newer TVs, you’ll want to look for features like 4K support, wired Ethernet (for optimal streaming performance), and Dolby Vision / Dolby Atmos. More expensive Roku devices usually have a more advanced Roku remote.

Roku makes a number of different models, so choosing the right one isn’t always easy. But that’s where CBS Essentials comes in. If you want to give Roku a try, here are the most popular Roku models available right now.

Roku Express 4K +


Roku via Amazon

Enjoy 4K picture quality and voice control via a Siri, Alexa or Google assistant that lets you search all channels, turn on subtitles and more with the Express 4K + streaming box affordable. It features dual-band wireless connection for a smooth streaming experience, and a premium HDMI cable is included to connect the Roku to the TV. the Roku Express 4K + does not require a smart TV to operate, but does require a TV with an HDMI input. While some Roku devices support older TVs with an A / V input, this one doesn’t.

“I can finally have the apps I want and not worry about running out of storage space on my TV” Lotte review says. “It is very easy to set up and use. The remote control is very simple and easy to learn.”

Roku Ultra


Roku via Amazon

With a new quad-core processor, the Roku Ultra is the company’s fastest and most powerful media player. It has all the features of the Express 4K +, as well as support for Dolby Vision and Dolby Atmos. It works both wirelessly and with an Ethernet port, and it comes with headphones for private listening. If you lose your remote, you can press a button on the streaming device and your remote will play a sound. You can listen to music, podcasts and more on your TV with a connected Bluetooth streaming device.

“I have found that Dolby Vision (offered on many Netflix originals) is superior to standard HDR”, critic Gary says. “If you’re not as picky about getting maximum picture quality as I am, getting Dolby Vision may not be important to you.”

Roku stream bar


Roku via Amazon

The flow bar is a Roku streaming device and soundbar all in one. The sound uses Dolby Audio technology, which automatically reduces the volume of loud advertisements and increases the volume of quiet conversations. It also has a long range wireless receiver. Roku makes an add-on wireless subwoofer and wireless speakers which combine with the Streambar for an enhanced surround sound experience.

“I bought [the Roku Streambar] due to its compact design and the audio mixing from my LG TV, it was impossible to watch movies “, an Amazon customer says. “The Streambar solved my audio problem. I can now watch movies without turning up the volume for dialogue and lowering the volume for action sequences. I also like the scalability of this device with wireless speakers. and a subwoofer, which I’m sure to take advantage of over time. ”

Roku Streaming Stick +


Roku via Amazon

The Roku + Streaming Stick has a long-range wireless receiver and enables Bluetooth streaming, and includes all the features of the Roku Express 4K + in a smaller, easier-to-hide device. Instead of connecting to a TV via wires, it connects directly to an HDMI port. Note that the Roku Streaming Stick + should always be connected to a power source, either through a USB TV input or a wall outlet.

“It doesn’t have the same bells and whistles as my Roku Ultras… but again, I also paid almost twice as much for those.” critic K. Krueger says. “This Stick + is much cheaper and basically offers the same user interface and playback performance.”

Roku Express


Roku via Amazon

The Roku Express is an affordable option for people with older TVs. It makes things simple with HD picture quality; a standard remote control and an HDMI cable; and wireless and standard connectivity. It still works with Alexa, Google Assistant, and Apple AirPlay and HomeKit.

“I finally decided to buy one to help keep my TV relevant”, reviewer Mike T says. “Most of the apps on my 2011 model TV no longer work and their functionality was limited. I wish I had bought one a few years ago.”

50 Inch Class 4 TCL 4 Series 4K UHD Roku Smart LED TV


TCL via Amazon

Some TVs already have Roku built in. Choose from 45-inch, 50-inch, 55-inch, 65-inch, 75-inch, and 85-inch sizes in this Roku 4K smart TV, for example, which comes with a simple super remote. The 85 inch model can be purchased in combination with TCL soundbars for an enhanced sound experience.

“I have no complaints considering the price,” critic Ross K. says. “The sound, picture quality, ease of installation, digital antenna and all of the other features advertised are above my expectations.”

TCL Roku TVs are currently on sale on Amazon.

50-inch TCL Roku TV

55-inch TCL Roku TV

75-inch TCL Roku TV

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