With everyone more dependent on streaming alternatives to cable, many are looking to pick up a streaming device. Our favorite streamer is Roku. However, there are over 5 on the market now. Which Roku should you buy? Before we get into the details, let’s cut the chase on which Roku is best in 2020.
The Best Roku Device: Roku Steaming Stick+
Runner Up: Roku Ultra
Why Roku Streaming Stick+ is the Best Choice
Many review sites and other cord-cutter sites will tell you to go for the Ultra. They are looking at the price and assuming the value is in the hardware and trying to convince you to pay double for what amounts to the same functionality. Let’s look at a direct comparison of these devices:
Roku Ultra vs. Roku Stick+
As you can see, all the core streaming functionality is identical with both Roku devices. They both stream video up to 4K resolution with HDR. They both support DTS Digital Surround, Dolby Audio, and Dolby ATMOS. They both support 802.11ac MIMO dual-band wireless. They even have the same exact processors! The Roku Ultra does have 1 GB more memory but it doesn’t add much to menu responsiveness relative to the Roku Streaming Stick+.
Why Choose The Roku Ultra?
Hardware isn’t a reason to choose Roku Ultra over the Roku Stick+. The few milliseconds of response the memory might afford isn’t worth the additional $50 for the same streaming functionality. However, there are a few features the Ultra has which the stick doesn’t offer:
- If you want to use ethernet, then you will want the Roku Ultra. The Roku Stick only connects to your home network wirelessly.
- Also, if you need more than 100 streaming apps installed on your Roku at the same time, you may want the Ultra. Not only does it have double the memory for the apps, but it also has the expandable MicroSD slot which can be used for app storage.
- The most useful advantage the Ultra has is “private-listening mode.” The remote that comes with the Ultra has a headphone jack that allows you to plug a pair of earbuds into the remote. This mutes the TV so it doesn’t disturb others around you and outputs the auto to your headphones. The Ultra also includes a nice pair of JBL headphones.
If any of these three features seem like a “must-have”, then the Roku Ultra may be worth the additional $50. However, most folks looking to cut the cord are looking for a device that streams top of the line video, possibly with surround sound capability. The Roku Streaming Stick+ meets those needs.
For a more detailed breakdown of each Roku device on the market please see our review of all the Roku devices.
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