Roku was one of the first big brands to develop a stand-alone streaming player, and it's still one of the biggest players in the market. But, like any other product with a decade-plus history, Roku's lineup has gotten a little tangled. Roku sells sticks and boxes, budget gear and premium players, and even soundbars and speakers. Buy the right one, and your home will be filled with entertaining TV shows, movies and music. Buy the wrong one, and you could wind up with a bunch of bells and whistles you'll never need — or a device that does half as much as you need it to.
Luckily, it's pretty easy to recommend Rokus based on individual-use cases. On this page, I've singled out five different Roku devices for five different scenarios. This isn't to say that other Roku devices aren't worthwhile, but this is at least where you should start your search. The new Roku Ultra 2020 and Roku Streambar may make the list once we've had a chance to check them out.
Depending on what kind of TV you have, how fancy you want your remote to be, and how much money you want to spend, here are the five best Roku devices for your entertainment center.
The Roku Streaming Stick+ is an extremely powerful little streaming stick, especially considering that it retails for only $50. This device features snappy navigation, full 4K resolution and a powerful wireless chip, meaning that you'll be able to load UHD content quickly and watch it without interruptions. You can search through hundreds of apps with the included voice remote, or connect via smartphone app for private listening. While the Roku Streaming Stick+ lacks all the bells and whistles of the fanciest Roku devices, that helps keep the price down and the experience streamlined. For most viewers, this device provides the best balance of form and function. That's why we named it the winner of the Tom's Guide Award for top streaming device.
Read our full Roku Streaming Stick+ review.
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.
Read our full Roku Ultra (2020) review.
Streaming gadgets that support 4K tend to be pretty expensive. Boxes that support UHD content can range up to $200. That's why the $40 Roku Premiere is such an attractive prospect. This gadget combines Roku's top-notch interface with the ability to stream 4K HDR content, for a lower price than any other UHD gadget from a major manufacturer. Just be aware that you'll have to make a few compromises: an odd design, an IR remote without voice search and somewhat slower navigation. Still, you'll save at least $10 over comparable devices, and you can put that money toward a few 4K movie rentals.
Read our full Roku Premiere review.
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.
With or without a streaming device attached, most flat-screen TVs simply don't have great speakers. The Roku Smart Soundbar solves two problems at once, by combining a high-quality sound system with a full Roku player. This device provides louder treble, more refined bass and a variety of options to enhance music, voices and other soundscapes. You can also pair the device with the Roku Wireless Speakers to create a surround sound system, or the Roku Wireless Subwoofer for room-thumping bass. The remote control is nothing fancy and the navigation could be snappier, but the Roku Smart Soundbar is a comprehensive device that takes almost no time to set up.
Read our full Roku Smart Soundbar review.