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Roku Review – Is it The Ultimate Cable TV Alternative?

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Roku has continued to gain prominence in the streaming landscape, and that’s all thanks to its wide range of streaming devices. From the new speaker equipped Roku Smart Bar to the all amazing Roku Ultra, Roku has an incredible blend of media streamers that will make watching your favorite TV channel all shades of amazing.

Thanks to Roku, you can now explore top streaming services while enjoying access to a massive selection of apps. Another thing you’ll love about Roku is that it features a powerful remote control with programmable buttons that allows for seamless navigation. Not just that, some of the latest Roku devices like the Roku Ultra feature a powerful remote that not only has programmable shortcut buttons; but also comes fitted with a headphone jack for private listening.

If you’re looking to get plugged to one of the best streaming services out there, rest assured that Roku has you covered. From Netflix to Amazon Prime Video to Hulu and more, many streaming services provide support for Roku.

Picking the right Roku for your TV

Without mincing words, Rokus are the most popular streaming devices and for good reasons too. What we particularly love about Roku is that they are pretty easy to use, and they offer users an impressive variety of streaming channels.

But guess what, deciding which Roku is perfect for you can be tricky. First, there are nearly nine different Roku devices, plus you’ll find a ton of older models on the market. More so, most Rokus tend to have similar names, so its not that easy to figure out their differences.

But that’s what we are here for. And if you’re like us, you’ll probably be looking to get the best Roku for a decent amount. Well read on, and you’ll find out in a bit. We have taken time to break everything down, starting with the very basic Roku.

The Roku Express

Call it the bare bones, and you’ll not be wrong as this Roku is limited in function. Designed to deliver a fantastic streaming experience, this Roku device is easy to use and will not disappoint. While it doesn’t come close to bigger models in terms of performance, it still gets the job done.

The Roku Express is perfect for people with a standard HDTV and features the same channels and Roku menus you’ll find on other streaming boxes. That said, the Roku Express is missing a couple of important features, including voice search and the ability to tweak your TV’s volume directly from the remote. To perform this operation, your Roku remote must be in plain sight and directed to your Roku box as it uses Infrared instead of Wi-Fi to communicate.

Another thing you should be aware of is that the Roku Express comes with composite cables, which makes it perfect for an old tube TV. However, if your TV doesn’t have an HDMI port, we advise you to save up for a new TV so you can start enjoying Roku.

The Roku Premiere

Want to get more from your Roku device? Then we suggest you check out the new and improved Roku Premiere. The Roku Premiere adds 4K and HDR to transform your streaming experience remarkably. And guess what, it is only $10 more than the Roku Express.

With the Roku Premiere, you can relax and watch all your favorite TV shows and programs in high resolution with extra vibrant colors. For those who got their TV in the last couple of years for about $300 or more, chances are your TV is 4K (Ultra HD) and will deliver a deep HDR experience. Paired with a Roku Premiere, you’ll be able to enjoy high-resolution quality streaming.

If you own a modern 4K TV and have the money to spend, you’ll be better off exploring a better Roku device. However, if you’re on a budget, we will suggest you go with the Roku Premiere as it is on the cheap side.

Roku Streaming Stick Plus

Besides provision for 4K and HDR, the Roku Streaming Stick Plus adds a strong Wi-Fi and intuitive voice search to the mix. That said, the Roku Streaming Stick Plus has become the number one choice for most people.

This device is easy to use and works perfectly with a 4K HDR or HD TV. Like other Roku devices, the Roku Streaming Stick Plus plugs directly to the back of your TV’s HDMI port. It also comes with a second cable that connects directly to a USB port to deliver power.

The highlight of this Roku device is that it features an intuitive voice search, that makes navigation super easy. From TV remote to power control and dual Wi-Fi band, this Roku device has a longer connection range and can seamlessly connect to 2.4 GHz and 5 GHz networks

For people who live in city apartments where there are lots of nearby Wi-Fi connections that can interfere with your signal, you’ll particularly fancy the Roku Streaming Stick Plus.

While this Roku stick will make a perfect choice for almost anyone, we will advise you to explore the back of your TV to make sure the HDMI ports are aligned in such a way that the Roku Streaming Stick fits without any interference. Many times, it may not line up properly, so you might want to try an HDMI extender.

The Roku Ultra

The Roku Ultra is one of the best Roku devices on the market currently, and looking at its impressive features and performance; you’ll not agree any less. Featuring a larger box that supports 4K HDR and HD, this Roku device will deliver a remarkable streaming experience to users. Besides all of the great features we have mentioned so far, including voice search and dual Wi-Fi band, the Roku Ultra comes with brand new features that will blow your mind.

The new and improved Roku Ultra features a powerful Ethernet port that delivers a more stable connection. In addition to that, it also debuts a headphone jack on the remote, which allows for private streaming. That’s not all; it also provides support for MicroSD, gaming buttons, remote finder as well as night listening mode, which puts a plug to explosive sounds.

Another cool thing we love about the Roku Ultra is that it comes with two favorite buttons. With this, you can quickly launch Phlex or other apps. That said, please keep in mind that even the latest Roku model doesn’t provide support for advanced HDR codecs like HDR10+ and Dolby Vision. So if that’s a problem, you’ll want to check out other top streaming devices from Amazon and Google.

The Roku Smart Soundbar

For people looking to improve the streaming performance and audio quality of their TV, you’ll not go wrong to give the new Roku Smart Soundbar a try. To put things simply, the Roku Smart Soundbar is an all-round solution for high-quality streaming and impeccable sound quality. Although it is $80 more than the price you’ll pay for the Roku Ultra, it is worth it considering what it offers.

More so, the Roku Smart Soundbar delivers a hyper usable voice remote, an impressive 4K image quality, and a powerful soundbar for a deep audio experience.

Although the Roku Smart Soundbar comes with a unique subwoofer-less bar, the size makes it perfect for smaller rooms. Measuring just 32-inches, this Roku model will work perfectly with smaller televisions in lighter spaces.

For people who are not very impressed with the sound quality of the Roku Smart Soundbar, you can take things up a notch by adding an extra Roku wireless subwoofer. But keep in mind that this doesn’t come cheap and will cost an extra $180.

Roku Remote

Roku devices come with a powerful remote control that makes navigation super easy. With new models, you’ll see remote controls that come with enhanced voice controls. What we love about the Roku remote is that it features easy to use buttons. From Home to Power to Back to Replay to playback controls and more, the Roku Remote has everything you’ll need to explore your favorite channels.

Also, the Roku remote features dedicated service buttons that let you explore Hulu, ESPN+, Sling TV, and Netflix. Not just that, the Roku remote also has a mute button as well as a volume rocker to help manage sound.

For some Roku models, their remote comes with a pinhole microphone that lets you activate the Roku Assistant for wireless search functions.

The Roku assistant

This feature isn’t available in all Roku models, especially the older versions. However, with the newer models of Roku, you can explore this feature to enjoy an immersive streaming experience. Although the Roku voice assistant doesn’t come anywhere close to voice assistants like Google Assitant and Amazon Alexa, it still does a pretty decent job you’ll love.

For most of the Roku models that have this feature, you’ll find a unique microphone fitted on their remote controls. To get this started, all you have to do is speak directly to the microphone and give it a command. Using the microphone on their remote, you can search for contents, open apps, and control playback using just your voice, how cool can that be?

However, it lacks some control features and doesn’t give you information on weather updates and sports. Also, you can kiss goodbye to any form of third party skills.

If you’re looking for a more sophisticated voice assistant that lets you control more than just your television, you’ll want to give Amazon Alexa a try. With voice assistants like Amazon Alexa on Fire TV streamers and Google Assitant on Android TV, you’ll experience the true power of a voice assistant.

Roku unleashes free streaming

For millions of Americans who are self-isolating at home, this is the best time to get yourself a Roku device. In a bid to entertain its users and drive up its revenue, Roku and its partners have agreed to offer premium content to its users through a 30-days free trial. From entertainment to children’s programming to fitness content and more, Americans who find themselves at home can now enjoy premium channels on Roku for free.

As part of the Home Together initiative, Roku users can now enjoy 30 days of unlimited access to Roku premium channels for free. The channels that are up for grabs include FitFussion, Showtime, Epix, and Smithsonian.

According to Roku, both new and old users are eligible for this offer and can find the eligible services within the Roku channel lineup or the featured free section. If you’re looking to give Roku a try to determine if their services are worth it, now will be a good time to jump on their 30-days free trial. However, remember to cancel your subscription after 30 days, else you’ll be charged a monthly fee.

is Roku worth it

What channels are on Roku?

Since launching in 2008, Roku has come a long way. From offering one channel, Roku has grown to offer its users over 3000 channels. The icing on the cake is that Roku lets you stream both local networks and cable networks using your preferred Roku device.

Hoe Does Network TV Compare To Roku

Like we mentioned earlier, there are tons of streaming services that offer access to local broadcast networks like ABC, Fox, CBS, and NBC. To get plugged to these local networks via Roku, you’ll first need to subscribe to the streaming services that offer your preferred networks. Once you have done that, you can download the streaming service app directly to your Roku device and sign in. For local TV, here are some of the best options we have come across.

Hulu with Live TV: Thanks to Hulu with Live TV, you now have access to some of the best local networks. From ABC to CBS to FOX to NBC, Hulu with Live TV has you covered when it comes to local TV.

Youtube TV: This is another amazing choice if you’re interested in local TV channels. With this streaming service, you can enjoy unlimited access to some of the finest local stations, including Fox, NBC, CBS, and ABC.

You can also watch your favorite broadcast channels on Roku via fuboTV, and CBS All Access.

Comparing Cable TV vs Roku

Are you interested in watching live cable Networks like TBS, AMC, HGTV, ESPN, and HBO? Then look no further as Roku has you covered. With Roku, you can stream popular Live TV streaming services that offer exclusive access to live cable networks. From Philo TV to Hulu with Live TV to YouTube TV to Sling TV and more, all these exciting options lets you stream popular live cable networks.

Other unique channel apps on Roku

Roku comes with a lot of fantastic features you don’t want to pass on. Just recently, Roku announced that it would be releasing the Roku channel, which will exclusively offer movies and TV for free.

But with so many channel options and streaming services available on Roku, we are sure things must look pretty overwhelming. However, we like to think differently. While Roku no doubt offers a lot of exciting channels from different streaming services, Roku puts the power right in your hand as it lets you select which channels you want to have on your Roku. Here, take a look at some examples of channels available on Roku.

Movies and TV Shows: When it comes to movies and TV shows, Roku never disappoints. And this is because they feature some of the top streaming services with a massive catalog of some of the finest movies and TV shows you have ever come across. Think of Netflix, Disney+, Amazon Prime Video, Crackle TV, and others, and you’ll know exactly what we mean.

News: Roku is also on high demand for its exciting news content. Thanks to featuring some of the best news networks like the Blaze, CBS News, Fox News, weather nation, and Sky News, Roku will greatly impress news lovers who are looking for a streaming device that grants them access to top news networks.

Sports content: Roku offers access to interesting sports content. Featuring popular sports networks like MLB TV, NHL Game Centre, WWE Network, ESPN+, UFC online, and more, you can finally stream all your favorite sporting events using Roku.

Music on Roku: Besides the plethora of movies, TV shows, news, entertainment, and lifestyle content, you can stream on Roku; Roku also features channels that offer exclusive access to popular music. From Pandora to Slacker to Spotify, there are a couple of Roku music channels you can explore.

The Roku app

The Roku app is one of the best streaming apps you’ll ever come across. Featuring exciting perks put in place to deliver an amazing experience, you’ll have a fun time streaming your favorite content using the Roku app. The cool thing is that all the power of the Roku OS is also available on the app, so you’ll not be missing out on anything.

For those who own a Roku device, getting the Roku app will let you stream your favorite channels on the go.

Available for both Android and iOS, the Roku app comes with all the features you’ll find on their streaming device. And regardless of which model of Roku you’re using, the Roku app lets you perform voice search operations. And for people who aren’t fans of Roku Voice search, the app comes with a unique keyboard that lets you type what you’d like to search.

At the moment, you’ll need to be close to your Roku device to access the “My Feed” section, but guess what, Roku announced that they are looking to make the feature available even when you aren’t close to your device.

Roku Pricing and packages

Technically, Roku doesn’t cost anything per month. Plus, you can watch lots of free content from top channels like YouTube, PBS Kids, Vevo, Crackle TV, Pandora, PBS, Crunchyroll, and more. However, if you want to stream premium content on Amazon Prime Video, Netflix, Sling TV, or HBO, you’ll require a monthly subscription to those streaming services.

While it’s entirely possible to purchase Roku and stream content for free, you’ll enjoy a better experience if you subscribe to premium streaming services that provide support for Roku.

Does Roku require internet?

Just like other streaming devices, you’ll need a decent connection to stream your favorite channels on Roku. Sadly, Roku doesn’t come with internal storage for movies and TV shows, meaning you cannot download your favorite movies or TV shows and stream offline.

The good thing, however, is that you only need a decent internet to stream your favorite content. For SD, you’ll need between 2-3 Mbps, while HD and Ultra HD require 6 and 9 Mbps, respectively.

Pros and cons

Pros

  • Delivers impeccable performance and access to popular channels
  • Massive content library to keep you entertained
  • Advanced voice search functions
  • Intuitive mobile app

Cons

  • Compared to other top voice assistants like Amazon Alexa and Google Assistant, the Roku voice assistant doesn’t level up.
  • Voice programmed shortcuts are a bit snaggy.

Roku Review

Frequently asked questions

How much does Roku cost every month?

While Roku is available from a variety of TV manufacturers and comes at an affordable price, users are not charged monthly fees for watching free channels on Roku. However, you’ll need to subscribe to the streaming services you’ll like to explore on Roku.

Which channels can you stream free on Roku?

Roku offers free access to a lot of channels, including YouTube, Hoopla, Crackle TV, the Roku channel, Tubi, Stirr, and more.

Can you get Netflix free on Roku?

Although Roku doesn’t charge any monthly fee for watching free channels, you’ll have to pay a monthly subscription to access premium streaming services like Netflix and Sling TV.

Can you watch free movies on Roku?

With free access to Crackle TV, you can watch a lot of hit movies like Ace Ventura, Oceans Eleven, and more for free using Roku.

Conclusion

Roku offers a wide variety of streaming devices you’ll love. From the new speaker equipped Roku Soundbar to the Roku Ultra and more, Roku delivers some of the finest streaming devices you’ll ever come across. With access to a massive selection of apps and streaming services, the Roku is just what you need to keep up with your favorite moves and TV shows.

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Jill Burns
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