Make no mistake: Roku means business. Among the first pioneers of affordable plug-in TVstreamers, it’s recently had its thunder stolen by cheaper alternatives, including Amazon’s Fire TV line and Sky’s Now TV Smart Sticks – themselves rebranded Roku-made devices. Not any longer. The 4K Roku Premiere now undercuts the competition, and its HD sibling, the Roku Express, is cheaper still. If you want to convert an old HD TV into a smart TV this is the cheapest way to do it, and crucially, it might just be the best way to do it too.
The Roku Express is the entry-level streamer in Roku’s new line-up, sitting below the Premiere and the older Streaming Stick+. The Premier outputs to a 4K resolution with HDR10 support, but both it and the Express dish out 1080p video and upscale from 720p, while delivering stereo, DTS surround, Dolby Audio and Dolby Atmos sound over HDMI.
Both also have the same 802.11n single-band Wi-Fi, where the Streaming Stick+ has dual-band 802.11ac. These differences are deal-breakers if you’re looking to replace built-in smart TV services on a 4K TV, but not really an issue if you want something to stream to an older HD TV or a fairly basic kitchen or bedroom set.
The main advantage of taking the Roku route is that you get a full line-up of apps, including BBC iPlayer, Netflix, Now TV, Amazon Prime Video, All 4, ITV Hub, YouTube and Google Play Movies & TV, not to mention a wide range of additional channels available on subscription or for free. And, as with the more expensive Roku devices, you can download Roku’s app for easier text input, voice control and wireless listening over headphones.