(Pocket-lint) - The Google Chromecast Ultra was recently announced and is set to be available to buy from November. With 4K streaming and HDR picture quality it's going to be a good alternative to the Roku Premiere+.
To help you decide which one is the best choice for you, read on as we go into the differences between the Google Chromecast Ultra and Roku Premiere+.
Google Chromecast Ultra vs Roku Premiere+: Design
With the Chromecast Ultra, Google isn't changing much in terms of design. Anyone acquainted with the Chromecast range will note the familiar shape of this circular streaming device. Unlike the Chromecast 2, the Chromecast Ultra is only available in black – lemon and coral are no longer an option.
There's a gloss finish, but otherwise the Chromecast Ultra keeps the tried and tested frame. The Chromecast Ultra tucks away neatly behind your television and only the charging cable and Ethernet cable (should you choose to use one) will be visible.
Meanwhile, the Roku Premiere+ makes its appearance in a sleek black unit that harks to the traditional set top box style.
At 124.5 x 124.5 x 21.6mm, the Roku Premiere+ still packs a lot of smart technology in a small package, but it won't be as well hidden behind your television, nor will you necessarily want it to be. The included point anywhere remote does offer the advantage of not requiring line-of-sight placement however, unlike most of the other devices in the Roku range.
Google Chromecast Ultra vs Roku Premiere+: Hardware
When it comes to hardware, both the Google Chromecast Ultra and Roku Premiere+ offer relatively similar specs; both will stream 4K and include HDR picture quality, which lesser streaming devices will not.
The Roku Premiere+ boasts 60 fps streaming and upscaling of 720p and 1080p content to 4K on capable Ultra HD televisions. Meanwhile, the Chromecast Ultra also supports Dolby Vision which the Roku Premiere+ does not.
Google says the Chromecast Ultra is 1.8 times faster than the previous models but successful streaming of 4K content will depend on the service you're getting from your ISP and whether you're using the Wi-Fi or wired connection.
Google Chromecast Ultra vs Roku Premiere+: Connectivity
Netflix recommends 25mbps for smooth 4K playback so you'll need a solid internet connection. You might want to consider an Ethernet connection for good quality playback without issue, especially if you suffer from Wi-Fi problems in your home.
Both the Google Chromecast Ultra and Roku Premiere+ offer wired networking ports and the Chromecast Ultra includes a power adaptor Ethernet port to make this connection even easier. If you prefer Wi-Fi, the Chromecast Ultra is 802.11ac (2.4 GHz/5 GHz) capable and the Roku Premiere+ supports 802.11ac MIMO dual-band wireless.
The Chromecast Ultra is powered by the familiar Micro-USB charging cable while the Roku Premiere+ has its own DC power adapter and both streaming devices connect to your television or home cinema system via standard HDMI cable.
The Roku Premiere+ has the added advantage of a microSD card slot for additional channel storage.
Google Chromecast Ultra vs Roku Premiere+: Audio
Both streaming devices are capable of delivering high-quality audio. The Google Chromecast Ultra supports surround sound output, while the Roku Premiere+ offers Dolby Audio pass-through.
The Roku Premiere+ has a slight edge here with the included option of 'night listening mode' which ensures all volumes are kept level at night so there's no nasty surprises that might disturb the neighbours.
Better still, the Roku Premiere+ also offers a 'private listening' option with a headphone jack built right into the remote control, so you can plug in and watch your television without any need for worrying about volume or disturbing others.
Google Chromecast Ultra vs Roku Premiere+: Remote control
Remote control is probably the main difference with these two streaming devices and each offer their own benefits depending on how you're going to use them.
The Google Chromecast Ultra is controlled via your phone or tablet using the Google Cast app available from iTunes and Google Play. The advantage the Chromecast Ultra has here is the additional ability to cast content from Chrome via a laptop or desktop machine.
This gives a lot more flexibility in the type of content you can cast, as well as the method by which you do it. You can also cast content from providers like Netflix using this, meaning you can save phone battery but still access great content with ease.
Meanwhile, the Roku Premiere+ is controlled using Roku's mobile app which boasts voice search capability and easy access to a wealth of content from various streaming providers.
Roku also includes an advanced remote control which not only has the headphone jack we mentioned earlier, but also allows you to use it without requiring line-of-sight placement. If you're not a fan of the Roku remote, then you'll be happy to learn the that Roku Premiere+ is also compatible with a range of universal remote controls, so how you control your content is up to you.
Google Chromecast Ultra vs Roku Premiere+: Content
Both the Google Chromecast Ultra and Roku Premiere+ offer access to a wide range of content from a variety of providers including Netflix, Hulu, Amazon, Showtime and more. Roku claims you can access over 350,000 movies and TV shows while Google says they support 200,000. It is important to remember however, that the Chromecast Ultra also supports music, radio, games and a variety of different apps available via Google Play.
The Roku Premiere+ has the advantage of offering Amazon Video out of the box where the Google Chromecast Ultra does not, though you can stream it using the cast functionality in Google Chrome on a laptop or desktop machine.
Google Chromecast Ultra vs Roku Premiere+: Price and availability
The Google Chromecast Ultra is set to retail at $69/£69 when it launches in November and thus represents a great price for 4K streaming in a small but capable package.
If you want a little more functionality and the addition of the robust and functional remote control, you might consider the Roku Premiere+ at the slightly higher price of $99.99.
Google Chromecast Ultra vs Roku Premiere+: Which should I buy?
Comparing these devices side-by-side, it's easy to see that there's not much between them. If affordability is important to you, then the Chromecast Ultra is probably the sensible choice. The Roku Premiere+ will certainly be a good alternative for people who are looking for easier content access and the simple, yet effective remote control functionality however.
- Google Chromecast Ultra review: 4K casting is perfect... yet pointless
- Roku Express vs Roku Express+ vs Roku Premiere vs Roku Premiere+ vs Roku Ultra: What's the difference?