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Roku 3 Vs Roku Ultra

Roku 3 Vs Roku Ultra – Comparing Roku Stream Players

In the market today, there are various options when it comes to streaming media content on your television, but Roku seems to have stolen the show as the preferred streaming media player. The majority tends to prefer it because the device supports additional services such as more streaming channels, movie channels and various TV shows, all at your convenience. Furthermore, the operating system used by Roku makes it less challenging to find any content you intend to stream – this is really important.

The different Roku models available are so similar to each other, which makes it a bit confusing for a new user who wants to purchase the device. To help clear out this confusion, in this write-up, well consider the Roku 3 and Roku Ultra. It’s now your decision to choose the one that works best for you.

Roku 3

roku 3

Roku 3 features:

  • The available channels are over 2,000.
  • You can watch the channels in full 1080 HD.
  • It has an active voice search tool.
  • It is Gaming enabled.
  • Compactible with any TV that has a working HDMI port.
  • Apart from HDMI, it supports Ethernet, Wi-Fi a/b/g/n and USB connectivity
  • It operates on a dual-core processor.
  • Very quick and responsive.
  • Intuitive and less stressful to use.

The Roku 3 Streaming Player offers entertainment channels of up to 2000 which you can stream on your HDTV with the aid of an HDMI port. What you need to make this happen is a wired or wireless reliable internet connection. The video quality you’ll get on this model is 720p HD and 1080p HD, which comes with one-search function. For game lovers, it has headphone jack together with a motion control which is suitable for gaming purposes. It also has earbud, which makes using the enhanced remote easy.


The dimension is 3.5 x 3.5 x 1 inches, and it weighs 5 ounces. It somehow looks similar to the set-top boxes, but with the new remote, you’ll notice a subtle difference.


It can be used on any TV that has HDMI port. It has built-in dual-band wireless with different ports Ethernet ports, USB, MicroSD slot and a processor that is lightning fast.


The new remote is enhanced with a voice search feature, headphone jack, and motion control for gaming purposes. With the voice button in place, you can say the name of the show, movie or even a particular director and an instant result will be shown on your screen. Then it’s left for you to make your choice. Using the voice search in a mid-movie automatically takes you out of the movie to show you the results. So you might need to be mindful of the usage. Furthermore, with the added headphone, private listening is made easier. You can also find shortcut buttons for Amazon, Rdio, Hulu and Netflix on the remote.


Like it was stated earlier, you can get access to more than 2000 streaming channels together with numerous TV shows and movie channels as well. All these can be accessed by just connecting your device to your TV, then the internet, sign in and install your preferred channels.


Roku added a new feature in their operating system called Roku feed. Its function is to send you a notification of a new movie release on either Netflix or Amazon Instant Video. This is available on Roku 3 with other tricks such as mirroring your tablet or smartphone screen onto a TV using the Roku device.

Roku Ultra

roku ultra unboxed


  • Storage Expansion – USB and MicroSD.
  • Picture Quality – Comprises of 4K Ultra HD, 1080p HD, and HDR.
  • Connectivity + Wireless – Has Ethernet Port and 802.11ac dual-band MIMO.
  • Remote – Enhanced voice remote for controlling TV and personal shortcuts.
  • Headphones – Has a Premium JBL headphone.
  • Connection to TV – You can use HDMI (4K video via HDCP 2.2 HDMI)
  • Offers about 4x long-range wireless receiver.

For the past years now, the Roku Ultra has been on the lips of most streaming stick users. The new device offers HDR and 4K support together with numerous channels with an egalitarian operating system. The most released update loads faster. The new remote has programmable buttons which are used in storing any command of your choice. Furthermore, this button can also serve as a shortcut to your most desired streaming services or even a voice command. The uniqueness of the Roku Ultra is beyond the smart remote, in fact, you’re buying a device that has the ability to stream 4K HDR content, has a voice search which is better than others and also can be used to watch uncountable free contents including the Roku Channel.

The Design

The Roku Ultra is flat and disc-shaped. The way it was designed, it can blend perfectly with other AV equipment if you’ve any. When you compare the Ultra to the Roku 3, you’ll discover that it is smaller. However, despite the size, it still does more than the bigger devices. The operating system is a quad-core processor, and it has a wireless antenna of 802.11ac dual-band. The two programmable buttons on the remote, Ethernet port and the remote finder on the top are the added features that make this powerful device unique.

Aside from these, other features include a 2.2 HDCP and 2.0a HDMI port which can be used as video out. Also, it has a power adapter (12V-1A) and a MicroSD card slot that can be used to store more channels. There is also provision for USB drive connection. These additional storage provisions will be appreciated more by people that want to download almost all streaming app and other things.

The Roku Ultra package comes with the player itself, some batteries and the smart remote control. There is no HDMI cable. The player can easily control your television using HDMI CEC which was designed to allow you to make use of a single remote to control the on/off of the TV together with the volume. The smart remote also has an auxiliary audio jack specially made for private listening.


The Roku Ultra model still remains the best when it comes to performance. Like it was stated earlier it streams 4k HDR videos on Amazon Prime, Netflix, Vudu etc.; still, all these are scaled to HDR10 format. This particular format is strictly optimized for 10-bit, 1000-nit television and they make use of static metadata which automatically configures a set of brightness for a particular content (film or TV show). This remains like this from the very beginning and won’t update just to match what is happening at any given time. What these technical terms mean is that most of the televisions operate on 4k HDR but with the improved HDR10, any content watched via Roku Ultra will appear perfect. It also adapts as more HDR contents are released.

When it comes to additional codecs, Roku Ultra supports WMA, PCM, H.264/AVC, VP9 video codes, MP3, H.265/HEVC, AC3/EAC3, ALAC, DTS audio codecs and much more. Also, it supports screencasting, though this might not be a codec, but this remains an interesting feature when you and your friends might want to share a particular clip from YouTube.


The premium remote of the Roku Ultra is the most important feature that makes it unique. The most recent version comes with a 3.5mm jack especially for headphones and quick access buttons for most popular streaming services. Apart from these, the remote also has two programmable buttons. This particular remote makes it easy to navigate the interface swiftly.

In a situation where you mistakenly lose your remote, you don’t need to bother yourself because the Roku Ultra has a remote finder button on top of the player. Once this button is pressed, it automatically sends a signal to wherever the remote is; next, you’ll hear chime noise that will enable you to locate the position. However, for you to enjoy this feature, the battery must be completely charged. In other words, you must ensure the battery is not dead completely before you change it. Furthermore, if your remote break or became lost that you just can’t find it, you can switch to the Roku app which can help you with faster search, private listening and also the convenience to control your Roku feeds. It is an excellent app. In fact, most people tend to prefer to make use of it to control their Roku device.

The drawbacks

Despite all these special features mentioned above, the Roku Ultra is still not perfect at least for now. Dolby Vision is still not compatible with the Roku Ultra, which by far is the most desired flavor of high dynamic range (HDR). This function of this is to allow colors to significantly pop more than the normal definition range. In case you do not know, these are now the standard that makes the Apple TV 4K and Amazon Fire TV Cube unique. Other streaming players are gearing up to add this feature. One unique thing about the Dolby Vision is that it tends to support 12-bit color together with headroom for up to 10,000nits of peak brightness. Aside from this, it also makes use of dynamic metadata that makes any HDR content to appear the best. But you still need to have a television that supports the Dolby Vision to be able to watch any Dolby Vision content. So if your current television does not have this feature, there is no need to bother yourself, your HDR10 will still give you the best performance.


When it comes to the software side, the operating system currently used to design the Roku Ultra is still below the standard of what you get on Android TV and Apple’s tvOS. Is also does not have earbuds.

Missing services

Peacock and HBO Max from the NBC Universal are still missing on the Roku Ultra. In case you do not know, these two remains a crucial sticking point when it comes to streaming TVs. Users that really need these features will indeed have no option to check for other streaming stick that will give them what they want.

In Conclusion

Among all Roku’s arsenal, the Roku Ultra still tops the chart. It is still one of the best players out there despite the minor issues we pointed out in the writ-up. For users that are buoyant enough to pay for premium hardware, then Roku Ultra is for you. On the other hand, if you intend to save cost without losing much when it comes to performance, you can still go for the Roku 3. The truth is that there is no way you’ll go wrong with either the Roku 3 or Roku Ultra. The two players are well well-matched for different categories of streamers.


Roku 3, is it still supported?

In as much as Roku 3 might not necessarily be available at the moment, it can still be used to stream your favorite channels. However, older models may not perform optimally as more channels tend to become more complex when it comes to updates.

Among all Roku device, which one is the best?

For most people, Streaming Stick Plus remains the best because it actually works with HD or 4K HDR TVs. It also sticks perfectly into the back of your television’s HDMI port. There is also a second cable plug into a USB port to specially made to provide power.

Do you think I should finally upgrade my Roku 3?

You might not necessarily need to do so if it does all you want. But at this point, if you’re buoyant enough, you can go ahead and replace your HD-only Roku 3 with an advance Roku Ultra model to be able to access 4K HDR videos especially if you have a 4KHDR television. But in summary, if you think you’re getting all you need, don’t bother upgrading it.

Roku Ultra is a bit expensive, is it worth it?

The 2019 Roku Ultra remains a good 4K streaming player when it comes to convenience, but because it still not compatible with Dolby Vision, the high price does not really make much sense when compared to other Roku models.

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Jill Burns
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Marie Williams
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