(Pocket-lint) - There are plenty of media streamers around but few offer as extensive range of apps and channels as Roku. The company has been manufacturing online streaming boxes for several years but which should you choose?
The product offerings in the UK and the US are slightly different, with the US often getting Roku devices that never launch in the UK - as well as Roku TVs and speakers that don't always travel internationally.
Here we're focusing on Roku's streaming devices to help you choose which is the best for you - and with Black Friday approaching, there's going to be some great deals on Roku devices.
Which is the best Roku streamer to buy today?
The Roku Express is the smallest of the streamers, acting as a very small set-top box and coming with some tape to attach it to the underneath of your TV, with an HDMI cable connecting the two and a Micro-USB taking care of power. It was redesigned in late 2019 with a 10 percent smaller footprint and curved top.
It performs just like any other Roku player, serving up the same generous selection of channels and it comes with a remote control too, which some would say makes it more attractive than a Chromecast which relies on your smartphone to operate. There is a limitation however and that's resolution - it only supports up to full HD.
But it does represent one of the cheapest smart upgrades for your TV, offering the biggest selection of streaming services and decent performance.
Roku Premiere is essentially the Roku Express but offering better performance. Rather than sticking to 1080p, it will run all the way up to 4K resolution and also supports HDR. While there's no Dolby Vision supported by Roku streaming devices, you will get great HDR10 performance.
Like the Roku Express, the Premiere is a small set-top box, drawing on Micro-USB for power and with an HDMI cable to connect to your TV - both included in the box. There's also a piece of double-sided sticky tape you can use to attach the Roku Premiere to the edge or bottom of your TV to keep things tidy.
Roku Streaming Stick+
The Roku Streaming Stick+ takes the 4K HDR performance of the Premiere and puts it into a slightly different format. As the name suggests, it's a stick, plugging straight into the HDMI port on your TV. That may or may not work for you based on whether your TV is wall-mounted or freestanding, although a short HDMI extender might be needed.
Power comes from the cable, which also has a powerful Wi-Fi booster in it, leading to great performance and delivering the best quality that streaming services are offering. It also has a slightly more enhanced remote - the Streaming Stick+ is designed to be out of sight and out of mind.
The Roku Ultra is the flagship model that has all the bells and whistles. It supports 4K HDR streaming, but it's only available in the US. It has now been updated with a 2020 model.
The Ultra has an Ethernet port, USB port and microSD card slot for playing back stored media and expanding the internal storage, as well as an optical output.
The supplied remote control has a headphone jack for private listening but gets the added functionality of a lost remote finder. If you've lost the remote, you can press a button on the box and the remote will make a sound to help you track it down. The remote also has voice-enabled search and motion control for gaming. It is the most expensive, however.
Roku Ultra 2020
The 2020 Roku Ultra replaces the previous version - although you might still find the older model on sale - and it brings in a few new features for the streamer.
The big new elements are support for Dolby Vision and Dolby Atmos, while also adding Bluetooth support for music streaming from your phone. Of course, if you want to use that Dolby support, you'll need need a TV and sound system than can deal with it.
Boosted Wi-Fi means better connectivity, but like the previous version, there's an Ethernet port for those who want a wired connection. Otherwise, it supports all the features that the other Roku devices offer.
Roku Streambar combines Roku's streaming platform with a compact soundbar, making this a one-box upgrade for your TV. For those with a small or second TV, or for that TV in a study or dorm room, it could be the ideal solution.
Streambar connects via HDMI to your TV, but also has an optical port so you can get all the audio from your TV, not just the content you stream. There's plenty of volume, giving a great boost over built-in speakers.
All the normal Roku features are supported, so you can stream all those services - as well as take advantage of features like AirPlay 2, Bluetooth, Spotify Connect and Google Cast - it's a great solution both for TV and music.