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(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. There are still big discounts introduced for Black Friday which run until 6 December.

Which is the best Roku streamer to buy today?

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Roku Streaming Stick 4K

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  • Type: HDMI dongle
  • Quality: 4K, HDR10+, Dolby Vision
  • Remote: Voice

The Roku Streaming Stick 4K is the new top of the range for Roku's compact streamers, building on the excellent Streaming Stick+. 

The big addition to the set of specs on offer is support for Dolby Vision, which is widely available on streaming services like Netflix now. If you have a Dolby Vision compatible TV, you'll be able to get the most out of this stick. 

It comes with Roku's voice remote, supports all the other services that Roku offers, with the advantage of long-range Wi-Fi for a better experience. It has the advantage over the Express devices that it remains hidden, as it doesn't need line of sight to control it.

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Roku Express 4K

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  • Type: Set-top box
  • Quality: 4K, HDR10+
  • Remote: Simple

The Roku Express 4K is an evolution of the Roku Express, adding in support for those higher 4K resolutions as well as HDR 10+ content, making it a viable alternative to the Roku Premiere. 

It still needs to be connected to the power and and HDMI cable, so it's not as compact as the Roku Streaming Stick+, but it's just about as capable. 

In the US there's also the Roku Express 4K+, which comes with the Voice Remote Pro with a rechargable battery. 

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Roku Express

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  • Type: Set-top box
  • Quality: 1080p
  • Remote: Simple

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 per cent 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.

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Roku Premiere

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  • Type: Set-top box
  • Quality: 4K, HDR10+
  • Remote: Simple

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.

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Roku Streaming Stick+

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  • Type: HDMI dongle
  • Quality: 4K, HDR10+
  • Remote: Voice

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.

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Roku Ultra (2020)

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  • Type: Set-top box
  • Quality: 4K, HDR10+, Dolby Vision
  • Remote: Voice

The 2020 Roku Ultra replaces the previous versions - 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.

There's another version - the Roku Ultra LT - which is essentially the same, but without the USB port, so it can't stream local files. 

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Roku Streambar

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  • Type: Soundbar
  • Quality: 4K, HDR10+
  • Remote: Voice

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.

Why buy a Roku streamer?

Roku has always attempted to offer a broad offering of services and that's one of the reasons that people choose Roku devices. It's often amongst the first to offer access to services and have often embraced new technologies too. While there are credible rivals from the likes of Amazon with the Fire TV Stick and the Google Chromecast, both those platforms have a lot of their own content to push, while Roku, for many, offers a cleaner approach, letting you dive into the streaming service you want directly. 

Roku has for a long time offered affordablility, offering access to things like 4K and HDR streaming at low prices, and while the market is changing, there's still a big price difference between something like the Roku Streaming Stick and the Apple TV. Roku embraced new technologies too, working with platforms like Alexa and Google Assistant, while supporting Google Cast and on some recent models, Apple AirPlay 2, so there's wide connectivity with other devices too. 

With a broad portfolio of streamers available, you can choose the Roku device that matches your requirements, so you're not spending extra to get functions your TV doesn't support. 

Writing by Rik Henderson. Editing by Chris Hall.
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