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Meet the Roku Express (2022): The cheapest Roku is getting faster

The Roku Express is a curved piece seen here looks identical to the newly announced Roku Express (2022)
(Image credit: Roku)

Roku today (Monday, Sept. 12) announced the new Roku Express (2022). This update to Roku's most-affordable streaming device is itself a slight upgrade — delivering two features that may not sound that important. Will these upgrades be enough to get spots on our best streaming devices and our best Roku devices page, though?

The Roku Express 2022 features two changes over the 2019 model. Roku's improved the internal storage on this model, and it's also upgraded its Wi-Fi tech. These changes, Roku claims, will lead to faster app load times and more stable streaming.

The Roku Express exists in the Roku lineup to offer folks a cheap and easy way to get streaming device apps on older TVs (that some might consider junking). So, primarily, the main reason you might want the Roku Express (2022) is that you're not really watching on a 4K TV (or you don't get much 4K content). As with the previous model, the new Roku Express maxes out at 1080p (1920 x 1080) and is up-scaling from 720p. 

So, let's take a closer look at the new Roku Express (2022), announced alongside Roku OS 11.5 and the new Roku Wireless Bass.

Roku Express (2022) release date

While the Roku Express (2022) is available for pre-sale today (Sept. 12) at Amazon.com, Walmart.com and Roku's own site, it won't ship until mid-October. 

The Roku Express (2022) will also be available for purchase at major retailers starting on October 16.

Roku Express (2022) price

Just like the prior model, the Roku Express (2022) costs $29.99. 

This places it below Roku's Ultra HD devices, such as the $39 Roku Express 4K Plus, the $49 Roku Streaming Stick 4K and the $99 Roku Ultra.

Roku Express (2022) specs

Roku Express (2022)
Price$29.99
ResolutionUp to 1080p (up-scaling from 720p)
NetworkingDual-band Wi-Fi
PortsHDMI, Micro USB (power)
AudioDigital Stereo, DTS Digital Surround pass-through and Dolby-encoded audio pass-through, all via HDMI
RemoteRoku standard IR remote
Measurements3 x 1.5 x 0.8 inches
Weight1.1 ounces
Supported protocolsApple Airplay and HomeKit, Hey Google, Alexa

Roku Express (2022) performance upgrades

The Roku Express (2022) and remote outside of the box on a blue background.

(Image credit: Roku)

As mentioned above, the Roku Express (2022) streams off a Dual-Band Wi-Fi modem (upgraded over 2019's single-band 802.11b/g/n connection). This, Roku notes, "ensures performance goes uninterrupted," i.e. you don't need to worry about buffering streams. That said, the quality of your own internet connection will also play a part.

Secondly, Roku's added more internal storage (we've asked them for clarity on how much more, and will update this story once we learn that). This is to enable snappier load times. As one TG staffer in our Slack noted, apps can take a while to load on older Rokus.

Roku Express (2022): What hasn't changed

The Roku Express (2022) will still ship with an IR remote. In our Roku Express (2019) review, we noted that this kind of remote can become something of a problem if your Roku Express isn't positioned at an angle that is easy to aim at. 

We found this kind of remote can force you to "line up the remote perfectly with the receiver," leading to "some uncomfortable arm positions."

Also, the Roku Express (2022) looks like the same small and very-light piece of plastic as its predecessor. In the past, it was almost too light to lay flat on a surface, without using Roku's included adhesive. We look forward to seeing if its HDMI cord still lifts it slightly into the air. 

Roku Express (2022) outlook

The Roku Express (2022) is a slight and incremental update to a solid budget streaming device. It doesn't necessarily feel like a must buy to use, but anyone who has the 2019 Express and wishes its app load times were a little bit faster and its streams slightly more stable may plunk down another $29 to grab it. And we wouldn't tell them not to.

That said, we've yet to get the new Roku Express in our own hands to put it through its paces. As someone who loves the pricier 4K Rokus, such as the Roku Streaming Stick 4K and the Roku Ultra, I'm curious how I'll fare during my time switching over to this model to review it.

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.