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Best Roku streaming device: which Roku is best for you?

Roku streaming device

Roku has made a considerable name for itself as a purveyor of affordable streaming devices to plug into the back of your TV – allowing you access to all sorts of smart capabilities you might not otherwise be able to use.

While the majority of mid and high-end TVs sold these days include Smart TV interfaces and streaming service applications built-in, there are still plenty of older or cheaper sets out there – from the days when a dumb, 40-inch TV seemed the pinnacle of big-screen entertainment – that can only dream of getting connected to the internet.

Read more: Roku Premiere (2018)

Manufacturers like Roku produce a range of very cheap streaming sticks that connect to your Wi-Fi and offer you access to streaming services such as Netflix, iPlayer, or Amazon Prime. 

They're cheap, they're simple, and they're easy to set up – and after a UK and US-wide update brought voice-controlled search features to the Roku family, now is a great time to be looking for a good deal.

The only catch is that over the years Roku has released dozens of different devices, all with slightly different specs and features. New models of the 4K-ready Roku Premiere and Premiere+ are also releasing in late 2018 – albeit only in the US – and seem set to shake things up.

So between the bargain Roku Express, mid-range Roku Streaming Stick+, and more premium Roku Ultra, we've cut through the lineup to work out exactly which streaming devices you should focus your attention on. Here's how to get the best Roku experience for you. 

Roku streaming device

Best Roku for 4K TV owners: Roku Streaming Stick+

A small stick that does 4K and HDR

Resolution: 4K | HDR?: HDR10 | Wi-Fi: 802.11ac | Sound: DTS Digital Surround

4K content supported
HDR10 compatible
Large selection of apps
No Dolby Vision HDR
More expensive

The Roku Streaming Stick+ is perfect for owners of modern 4K HDR TVs. Although many of these televisions have their streaming services built in, if you opt for a cheaper set then the built-in operating system might be slow and difficult to navigate. 

The Roku Streaming Stick+, in comparison, is lovely and snappy to operate. It's equipped with every major streaming service, and you can use its built-in search functionality to find content across many of them. 

One note of warning is that although the hardware itself supports 4K/HDR content, this isn't a standard across all streaming services just yet. Amazon and Netflix are early adopters, but others haven't been quite so quick on the uptake. 

A final point is that the Streaming Stick+ only supports HDR10 rather than the expanded functionality of the Dolby Vision HDR standard. The amount of content that makes use of Dolby Vision is currently very small, but if you want to be completely future proofed then you might want to opt for a Chromecast Ultra or an Apple TV 4K

The Roku Premiere might be able to oust its sibling with similar 4K capabilities at a cheaper price tag, though that only affects those of you who can buy it in the US.

Read the full review: Roku Streaming Stick+

Roku streaming device

Best Roku for HD TV owners: Roku Streaming Stick (US-Only)

A budget stick with a great OS

Resolution: Full HD | HDR?: No | Wi-Fi: 802.11ac | Sound: DTS Digital Surround

Rock bottom price
Same great Roku OS
Large app selection
No 4K
No voice search on remote

If you want to get your Full HD 1080p TV hooked up with streaming services, then your best bet from the Roku lineup is currently the non-plus Roku Streaming Stick. 

It's got the same great operating system as its more expensive sibling, and the same wide variety of apps (although, naturally, not in 4K HDR). 

The biggest issue with the device is that it's not available internationally. UK readers with HD TVs are better off going for a streaming stick from a competitor such as the Amazon Fire TV Stick or Google Chromecast – as the dirt-cheap UK equivalent, the Roku Express, has a number of connection issues and sluggish loading times.

Read the full review: Roku Streaming Stick