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Best Roku devices 2022

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

The best Roku devices continue to provide some of the best streaming experiences, especially for those who don't want to break the bank. They range in price from the $29 Roku Express (which is getting an updated model this year) to the $99 Roku Ultra — and that's before you get to the soundbars.

Latest Roku News (updated Sept. 12)

• The new Roku Express (2022) has two upgrades.
Roku OS 11.5 will make streaming easier to manage.
• Meet the Roku Wireless Bass.

And we at Tom's Guide not only test Roku devices rigorously, but some of us use them for our own personal streaming. For example, we love the $50 Roku Streaming Stick 4K (and there's a 4K Plus model too), so much that we rank it as the best streaming device overall. 

The Roku Streaming Stick 4K is also an excellent streaming device for its small size, which makes it a perfect gadget for traveling. Our senior editor explained why he always brings this Roku on vacation (though he had to order a new one as he left his last one in Chicago). That 4K Plus model, though, used to stand out by being the only Roku that packed in the excellent Roku Voice Remote Pro. That said, things have changed, as the Roku Ultra finally got more "ultra" by adding Roku's best remote.

And while Roku makes our favorite streaming device, the runner-up comes close. Check out our Roku Streaming Stick 4K vs. Chromecast with Google TV face-off to see how narrow Roku's win is. Speaking of those two devices, Roku finally has Apple Music while getting Apple Music on Chromecast with Google TV is still a convoluted process.

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 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. They are reliable too, though even they aren't perfect — you may find your Roku not working at some point. Fortunately, problems are easy to fix!

Best Roku devices back to school deals

Bringing a Roku with you to school makes a ton of sense, as you can't rely on the campus housing to have all the best apps. Which is why we're excited to already see discounts and early back to school sales for streaming devices. The best so far is the $30 off Roku Streambar (opens in new tab), which combines a 4K Roku and a soundbar into one compact dorm-room-friendly box. Be sure to follow our back to school guide for all of your shopping needs this season.

The best Roku devices you can find today

(Image credit: Henry T. Casey)
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.

Read our full Roku Streaming Stick 4K review.

best value awards badge

(Image credit: Tom's Guide/Henry T. Casey)
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 — which is why we named it the best cheap streaming device.

Read our full Roku Express 4K Plus review.

(Image credit: Tom's Guide)
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: Roku Voice Remote Pro
Device Type: Box

Reasons to buy

+
Great performance
+
Includes Roku Voice Remote Pro
+
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 included Roku Voice Remote Pro has many great features, but our favorite is the fact that it doesn't require batteries. Oh, and it also has hands-free voice controls — crucial if you can't find yours. It also has two programmable buttons, and a headphone jack for private listening.

Maybe a bit too expensive for most, the Roku Ultra is my preferred streaming device these days, after I ditched my Apple TV 4K for the Roku Ultra. Not only does it have comparable features (just missing Twitch on the app front), but its version of Netflix proves more stable when it comes to Dolby Atmos than my Apple TV 4K.

Read our full Roku Ultra (2020) review.

Roku Streaming Stick 4K+ components

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

A new Roku Express (2022) is coming. It adds improved Wi-Fi for stability, and more storage for faster load times.

Read our full Roku Express review.

(Image credit: Roku)
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 T. Casey
Senior Editor

Henry is a senior editor at Tom’s Guide covering streaming media, laptops and all things Apple, reviewing devices and services for the past seven 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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