Three best Rokus
When Roku launched its first streaming box for watching services like Netflix and Hulu on TV, the idea both transformed how we consume media and launched an entire product category. The idea of watching internet video on TV was once quaint, but Roku helped turned it into a daily necessity.
Fast forward to the present, and everyone from Apple to Google has its own streaming box, each designed to find a unique way to let users stream their favorite shows and movies.
Thankfully, Roku hasn't rested on its laurels -- it has continued to dominate the industry with new innovations and conveniences, and now offers multiple product lines for different television-streaming scenarios.
If you're ready to get on board the Roku train -- or you just need a streaming box that will make it super simple to watch your favorite streaming service -- we've got you covered. Read on for our best advice for picking the right Roku device for your needs.
Considerations when choosing Rokus
Roku offers a wide variety of streaming products, but they all fall into one of three categories: sticks, boxes, and TVs.
Roku streaming sticks are all about portability. They plug directly into your TV's HDMI port -- no cable needed -- and they support all of the same apps as their bulkier counterparts. Roku streaming sticks are less powerful than Roku streaming boxes, but they're a solid option if you just need a quick solution or you don't need advanced features.
Roku streaming boxes look like small hockey pucks and attach to your TV with a standard HDMI cable. Roku streaming boxes are the fastest products it offers and typically include cutting-edge features like support for 4K high-dynamic-range (HDR) content. If you want the best video quality available, go for a Roku streaming box.
Roku TVs are television sets with the Roku operating system and apps built in. Roku TVs are incredibly affordable, and the onboard software works just as well as a streaming box. If you're in the market for both a TV and a streaming box, a Roku TV is one of the best ways to kill two birds with one stone.
Q. Can I use a Roku device with a soundbar?
A. Yes, so long as they have complementary interfaces. To use a soundbar with a Roku device, you either need (1) a soundbar that has an HDMI input or (2) a soundbar that has an optical cable input and a Roku device that has an optical cable output. If you have a soundbar with an HDMI input, you can use an HDMI cable to plug the Roku directly into it, and then use another HDMI cable to send the video signal from your soundbar to the TV. If you buy a Roku model that has an optical cable output and you have a soundbar with an optical cable input, you can connect the two directly together with an optical cable.
Q. Is there a monthly subscription fee to use Roku?
A. No, although some streaming services require a monthly subscription. Roku devices offer movies and TV shows for purchase and work with third-party streaming services that require subscriptions, such as Netflix, Hulu, or Amazon Prime Video. There are no recurring charges for using a Roku device.
Q. Can I watch movies I've purchased with Google Play or iTunes on my Roku?
A. Yes, so long as they are supported by the Movies Anywhere service. Movies Anywhere is an app that can access your video accounts with third-party services (like iTunes) and stream content you've purchased directly to your Roku. However, not all movies are licensed for Movies Anywhere, so you may not see your entire catalog of purchases. To learn more, visit the Movies Anywhere website.
Rokus we recommend
Best of the best: Roku Premiere+
Our take: This isn't just one of the best Roku devices around, it's one of the best streaming boxes available, period.
What we like: Support for 4K HDR makes 4K TV shows and movies look incredible. The built-in Ethernet port is perfect for users who prefer the increased speed of wired connections.
What we dislike: Other streaming boxes in this price range support Dolby Atmos audio.
Best bang for your buck: Roku Streaming Stick
Our take: If you're a frequent traveler, or you just want to take your streaming apps with you wherever you go, the Roku Streaming Stick is perfect.
What we like: Ideal for use in hotel rooms. Fits in any pocket.
What we dislike: Doesn't support 4K content. Included USB cable is too short.
Choice 3: Roku Ultra
Our take: Most powerful Roku model. A great fit for a modest home theater.
What we like: The "remote finder" feature uses sound to help you locate your Roku remote control. About half the price of the nearest third-party competitor.
What we dislike: Included optical audio output supports audio formats like Dolby Digital and Digital Theater Sound (DTS), but doesn't support high-resolution audio formats like DTS HD-MA, DTS:X, or Dolby Atmos.
Jaime Vazquez is a writer for BestReviews. BestReviews is a product review company with a singular mission: to help simplify your purchasing decisions and save you time and money. BestReviews never accepts free products from manufacturers and purchases every product it reviews with its own funds.
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