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Best Roku devices 2022

Included in this guide:

A Roku remote and sound bar in front of a TV
(Image credit: Roku)

The best Roku devices provide some of the best streaming experiences. Not only does Roku hold the top slot in our best streaming device rankings with the Roku Streaming Stick 4K (and there's a 4K Plus model too), but Roku's settled its issues with YouTube so we can recommend it more enthusiastically than before.

Latest Roku News (updated Jan. 11)

• HBO Max is available on most of the best streaming devices, including Roku. Speaking of which, there's a new Roku upgrade directed at cord-cutters.
The super-cheap $15 Roku LE that was supposed to be a $15 limited edition for Black Friday is still here.
• The Roku Streaming Stick 4K and 4K Plus have arrived.

Roku was one of the first big brands to develop a stand-alone streaming player, and now it's the top streaming platform in the industry, with Amazon Fire TV nipping at its heels. But, like any other product with a decade-plus history, Roku's lineup has gotten a little tangled, and has maybe one too many devices. We also just reviewed Roku's new Express 4K Plus, which made it to this list as the best Roku device under $40.

Roku's elegant menu system puts apps (and not ads) first, and offer everything from inexpensive Full HD streaming, to premium 4K picture quality coming straight out of a soundbar. As long as you pick one of the best Roku sticks or players, you will get snappy streaming at a competitive price. 

Roku was one of the first big brands to develop a stand-alone streaming player, and now it's the top streaming platform in the industry, with Amazon Fire TV nipping at its heels (also, Roku TV is the top-selling Smart TV OS in U.S.).

But, like any other product with a decade-plus history, Roku's lineup has gotten a little tangled, and has maybe one too many devices. We often get asked how to tell the difference between all of them, including the recently released Roku Express 4K Plus, which made it to this list as the best Roku device under $40.

Roku's elegant menu system puts apps (and not ads) first, and offer everything from inexpensive Full HD streaming, to premium 4K picture quality coming straight out of a soundbar. As long as you pick one of the best Roku sticks or players, you will get snappy streaming at a competitive price. 

(Image credit: Henry T. Casey)

1. Roku Streaming Stick 4K

The best Roku device overall

Specifications
Size: 3.7 x 0.8 x 0.5 inches
Max Resolution: Up to 4K UHD at 60 fps
Ports: HDMI, USB
Remote: Voice Remote
Device Type: Stick
Reasons to buy
+
Excellent 4K HDR quality
+
Dolby Vision, finally
+
Snappy perfomance
Reasons to avoid
-
No Dolby Atmos
-
Amazon offers better live TV

The Roku Streaming Stick 4K replaces our previous pick for the best Roku device, the Streaming Stick+. While it's not a huge leap over that model, it keeps everything we loved and fixes one of the biggest flaws of its predecessor by adding Dolby Vision. Roku has also added a new quad-core processor in the Roku Streaming Stick 4K, for what it claims provide 30% faster app boot times. That's a bit hard to measure, but the Roku Streaming Stick 4K felt snappy and fast enough. Major apps opened within 11 seconds. 

Now that the stick supports Dolby Vision (along with HDR10/+), you can stream all your shows and movies just as beautifully as anything else. The picture plays in crisp UHD image quality. However, the device is lacking on audio standards, missing the spatially-focused Dolby Atmos sound technology. The standard remote works fine, but if you want the superior Voice Remote Pro, check out our write-up of the Roku Streaming Stick 4K+ below. 

Great news: The new stick is on sale! Check out the best Black Friday Roku deals

Read our full Roku Streaming Stick 4K review.

(Image credit: Tom's Guide/Henry T. Casey)

2. Roku Express 4K Plus

The best Roku device under $40

Specifications
Size: 3.3 x 1.5 x 0.7 inches
Max Resolution: 3840 x 2160
Ports: None
Remote: Network Voice remote
Device Type: Box
Reasons to buy
+
Excellent 4K HDR performance
+
Decent navigation
+
Improved remote
Reasons to avoid
-
Awkward design
-
No Dolby Vision or Atmos

Getting crisp 4K streaming at under $40 is rare, and always comes with a caveat or two. The new Roku Express 4K Plus fixes one of the big annoyances of the Roku Premiere it replaces, by giving you a better remote. This remote doesn't require a direct line of sight, so you can point it in whichever direction you please. That upgrade, plus fast performance and UHD streaming makes the Roku Express 4K Plus a great option for those trying to get a 4K Roku (and all the apps that it comes with)  at the lowest price.

That said, we still have two reasons to consider paying a little more. Its design is a little too light, so you might spend a minute fiddling with it to have it lie flat on a surface — making the Streaming Stick Plus' easy-to-use design even better by comparison. Also, there's no Dolby Vision or Atmos Audio, but some might not see that as worthy of going higher up the price-chain. We've recently raised this unit in our rankings, as it's continued to impress more TG staffers with its value proposition.

Read our full Roku Express 4K Plus review.

(Image credit: Tom's Guide)

3. Roku Ultra (2020)

The best premium Roku device

Specifications
Size: 4.9 x 4.9 x 0.9 inches
Max Resolution: 3840 x 2160
Ports: Ethernet, USB
Remote: Enhanced voice remote
Device Type: Box
Reasons to buy
+
Great performance
+
Inventive remote control
+
USB port
Reasons to avoid
-
Expensive
-
Almost nothing new from last year's model

The Roku Ultra is expensive, but true to its name, it will give you the most comprehensive Roku experience that money can buy. As with other high-end Roku devices, you get thousands of channels, full 4K resolution and extremely fast navigation. But with the Ultra, you also get an Ethernet port for a steadier Internet connection, as well as a USB port to provide your own videos and music. 

Also, the 2020 Roku Ultra is a bit faster in places (though you might not notice it all the time) and offers improved wireless streaming range. The voice-enabled remote includes two programmable buttons, as well as a headphone jack for private listening, and a handy "remote-finder" feature if it gets lost in the couch cushions.

Maybe a bit too expensive for most, the Roku Ultra is a great gift, but not for everyone.

Read our full Roku Ultra (2020) review.

Roku Streaming Stick 4K+ components

(Image credit: Kelly Woo/Tom's Guide)

4. Roku Streaming Stick 4K Plus

The best Roku device packaged with the best remote

Specifications
Size: 3.7 x 0.8 x 0.5 inches
Max Resolution: Up to 4K UHD at 60 fps
Ports: HDMI, USB
Remote: Voice Remote Pro
Device Type: Stick
Reasons to buy
+
Dolby Vision
+
Voice Remote Pro is a great upgrade
+
Speedy performance
Reasons to avoid
-
Lacks Dolby Atmos
-
Not a big upgrade from previous model

The Roku Streaming Stick 4K Plus is slightly faster and more powerful, is finally capable of playing high-quality Dolby Vision and comes with the excellent Voice Remote Pro. It has everything we loved about the previous model, the Streaming Stick Plus, with a bit more juice and features.

The Roku Streaming Stick 4K Plus delivers all the ultra-HD streaming, video quality and speed that anyone could need, along with a wonderfully simple OS, and at a very reasonable price. And it comes with the excellent Voice Remote Pro. It's got a rechargeable battery, an optional always-listening function and two customizable buttons. 

Read our full Roku Streaming Stick 4K Plus review.

(Image credit: Roku)

5. Roku Express

The best cheap Roku device

Specifications
Size: 3.0 x 1.5 x 0.8 inches
Max Resolution: 1920 x 1080
Ports: None
Remote: Standard IR remote
Device Type: Box
Reasons to buy
+
Improved design
+
Good performance
+
Customizable interface
Reasons to avoid
-
Too light to sit still
-
Imprecise remote

The Roku Express has come a long way since its first iteration in 2016. Back then, the device was underpowered and inconveniently designed. Now, the Express is a worthwhile investment for 1080p TV owners who want the simplest streaming solution. At $30, the Roku Express is the cheapest streaming player from a major manufacturer, and you get plenty of features for that price. In addition to thousands of streaming channels and a highly customizable interface, you can access voice search and private listening through a smartphone app. The only big downside is the standard IR remote, which doesn't always always work as well as it should.
Read our full Roku Express review.

(Image credit: Roku)

6. Roku Streambar

The best Roku device that's also a speaker

Specifications
Size: 14.0 x 4.2 x 2.4 inches
Max Resolution: 3840 x 2160
Ports: Optical audio, HDMI, USB
Remote: Voice remote with TV volume and power controls
Device Type: Soundbar
Reasons to buy
+
4K streaming
+
Clear, loud sound
+
Compact design
Reasons to avoid
-
Bass could be stronger
-
Lacks Ethernet port

When you want the excellence of the Roku platform, but your TV doesn't have the strong sound you want? Well, the Roku Streambar is a great solution that's often on sale. It's design won't take up too much space on your counter top or entertainment center, but also provides quality sound with both loudness and clarity. Its bass leaves something to be asked for, though, but that's not a problem for most TV. And this way, you can combine your streaming device and soundbar into the same package, and save more space.

Read our full Roku Streambar review.

Henry is a senior editor at Tom’s Guide covering streaming media, laptops and all things Apple, reviewing devices and services for the past six-plus years. Prior to joining Tom's Guide, he reviewed software and hardware for TechRadar Pro, and interviewed artists for Patek Philippe International Magazine. He's also covered the wild world of professional wrestling for Cageside Seats, interviewing athletes and other industry veterans.

  • isamuelson
    We have both the Streaming Stick+ (in our living room) and a Fire TV 4K (in my man-cave where I have the surround sound set up, reclining couch, etc).

    We first got the Streaming Stick+ as I already had the 3rd gen Fire TV Pendent which was working fine for me. When I saw how the remote worked on the Streaming Stick+ to control our TV, I wanted to get one for my TV in the man-cave.

    But after numerous tests with my DTS decoder, I found that various MKVs that I ripped from my Blu-Ray collection would refuse to play from my Plex media server with the Roku Plex player app. I like to rip my audio as a full copy (rather than convert it to AC3, etc) so that when DTS is being passed through to my DTS decoder, I'm hopefully getting the best possible sound. My DTS decoder doesn't have an HDMI input/output so I have to feed it from the optical out from my TV to the decoder via pass-through.

    The Roku Plex app would play the video with no sound for some reason and I was unable to ever get it to work. However, my Fire TV 3rd gen had no issues what-so-ever with passing the DTS signal through to the DTS decoder. Also, the Fire TV Plex app had the option of doing either HDMI or Optical pass-through which might be the reason.

    Most of the movies are ripped in AC3 (since that's the original audio track), but for some reason, even some of those refuse to play through the Roku Plex app. I don't know if it's an issue with the Plex app on Roku or a Roku hardware/software limitation or a combination of both. I also discovered that some movies (John Wick 2) would refuse to play at all through the Roku but John Wick 1 and 3 worked fine on the Roku and they were all ripped the same way. For the Fire TV, all 3 movies played with no issues.

    So with that, I ordered the Fire TV 4K stick and I have been very pleased with it. Also, the voice commands with the remote allow me to switch from one HDMI port to another as well as to the cable port (where I have a digital antenna attached) so I no longer need the TV remote for anything, unless I want to change channels when watching over-the-air channels which is rare on my man-cave TV. Roku, when I try to tell it to switch to a different HDMI port, just tells me that the function is no implemented.

    The Roku works great for the upstairs living room though except when we want to watch some of the movies from the Plex media server that refuse to work on the Roku for some reason. It's going to depend on what you like (Amazon pushed content UI vs. a cleaner interface on the Roku).

    One thing I do like with the Roku is that when I want to search for free movies, it looks across all the different channels that would provide it and shows them first. For Amazon, it will only show content via Amazon Prime which is a shame but I understand that Amazon is trying to run a business with their Prime Video service. I also wish on the Fire TV I could actually tell it to use the "All Apps" view as the default where I can see all the apps I have installed as opposed to being forced the Amazon suggested videos to watch and having to scroll through my apps. A hold on the "Home" button will bring up a menu where I can then choose "All Apps" or you can scroll down to the carousel apps list and navigate to the left to find the "All Apps" button there. I find the "Home" button short-cut is faster, especially depending on where you've scrolled through all of Amazon's suggestions and are far down below the "Apps" list.

    Overall, I do like both devices. Each has their pluses and minuses and for our house, they each serve a purpose in the room they are in. The family TV is used more by my family to stream Netflix, Hulu, Disney+ whereas my man-cave is more for the movie experience via my Plex server so we don't have to go to the shelf to pull out a Blu-Ray and turn on the Blu-Ray player, insert the disc and wait for it to load up and possibly have to skip through dozens of previews before we can even get to the movie itself. Works great for the TV shows I have on Blu-Ray too. No disc swapping (and it saves wear and tear on the discs). Roku can play most of my content, but for others, I'd either have to re-rip them, possibly downgrading the audio, or else just not be able to watch them. Fire TV seems to handle all of my ripped Blu-Rays without an issue.
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