Roku’s 4K Streaming Stick – Pros and Cons Review

Roku's 4K Streaming Stick

Roku’s 4K Streaming Stick; When it comes to product updates, it might seem like lukewarm praise to say, “It’s pretty much the same as the last version, but the last version was good! But that’s exactly what’s going on with the new Roku’s 4K Streaming Stick and its more expensive sibling, the Roku Streaming Stick 4K+. While neither has enough new features to make them a dramatic upgrade from the Streaming Stick Plus or the Roku Ultra, for example, both new devices still run on a solid operating system, have an attractive design, and offer excellent streaming. content. If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it, right?

Should all of that be enough to convince you to pay $50 for the 4K Streaming Stick if you already own Roku’s Express 4K Plus, which offers a basically identical feature set for $10 less? Probably not. But if you’re looking for a high-performance compact streamer that now includes added support for Dolby Vision, the Roku 4K Streaming Stick and 4K+ are great options.

Perhaps the biggest concern for me personally is that, right now, Roku is approaching critical mass in its streaming offerings, at least from a bill of materials standpoint. The current range includes Express, Express 4K Plus, Roku’s 4K Streaming Stick , Streaming Stick 4K Plus, Ultra, Streambar and Streambar Pro – a fairly similar range of streaming sticks that are fairly consistent in terms of their capabilities. When you can analyze the (minor) differences between your options, you’ll realize, as I did, that you really can’t go wrong with any of them, which isn’t necessarily a compelling argument as to why 4K and 4K+ are slightly worth the price. higher.

Roku’s 4K Streaming Stick winning formula

The Roku’s 4K Streaming Stick offers slight improvements over its very good and affordable predecessor, the Streaming Stick Plus (currently $35 on Roku’s website). The new device is faster and offers better Wi-Fi performance, but these upgrades are hard to quantify (more on that below). Aesthetically, the design of both devices is more or less the same, save for a more matte black finish, but not that that really matters either way: Like the Plus, Roku’s 4K streaming device sits perfectly in an HDMI port behind your TV. , so it’s not like a major overhaul is needed there.

To this end, both Streaming Sticks come with a USB power cable with a long-range Wi-Fi receiver (the 4K+ package also comes with a separate USB charging cable to power the remote). There’s also a power adapter included in case you can’t plug your streaming device directly into a USB port on the TV, but the TCL set I used to review Roku devices didn’t have this problem.

But the main reason for the update is really the added support for Dolby Vision and HDR10 Plus. Dolby Vision content is now plentiful on various streaming services, including Disney+ and Netflix, and is now supported by Roku. That’s pretty much it.

Roku 4K Streaming Stick vs. Roku’s tick 4K+Streaming Stick

If you want to spend an extra $20, you can opt for the Roku’s 4K+ Streaming Stick, which comes equipped with the Roku Voice Remote Pro. The Pro is nearly identical to the other Roku remotes, except for a few minor tweaks. A headphone jack for private listening has been added to the side, and the Voice Remote Pro also replaces the AAs with a built-in rechargeable battery, which can be powered via a microUSB port hidden under the remote’s purple cloth label.

Roku’s 4K Streaming Stick; The voice remote is certainly a nice touch here, and if you’re wondering if the 4K+ is worth spending the extra money on, let me tell you that the included remote search feature is almost worth the price of admission.

For those who cringe at the thought of having an always-listening device in their home, Roku has included a switch on the left side of the remote to turn off the microphone. In this mode, the remote can still pick up commands if you press and hold the microphone button, it will no longer be “hands free”.

One legitimate complaint some users may have with Roku’s 4K Streaming Stick and 4K+ is that the voice assistant still can’t compare to Amazon’s Alexa or Google Assistant. The Roku’s 4K Streaming Stick voice capabilities remain rudimentary at best; turning the volume up and down, turning the TV on and off, and searching for content by genre or actor name is no problem; ask something more complicated, like what time the Knicks play, and you’re out of luck.

Intuitive software

As a result, they tend not to change things too much in the software department, leaving intact the same uncluttered home screen that users know and love.

There’s a new “Free Highlights” section that allows users to explore their free streaming options, but this is primarily Roku’s way of promoting its own content. While it’s true that the ad-supported Roku channel offers dozens of free shows and movies, it’s also a good reminder that Roku is, at its core, an advertising factory, and more ads means more metrics are tracked and sent to Roku. It’s a bummer to be sure, but it’s kind of a deal you implicitly agree to when you watch Roku content: great shows, easy-to-use software, and ads. It is so.

Roku’s 4K Streaming Stick and 4K+ run on Roku’s latest 10.5 OS, which adds some nifty workarounds like voice dictation for passwords (scrolling the on-screen keyboard with the remote for what seems like 15 minutes is always a disappointment) and easier troubleshooting. for AV that is out of sync. While competitors like Amazon’s FireTV Roku’s 4K Streaming Stick Max recently made the jump to Wi-Fi 6, Roku still uses Wi-Fi 5, but again, load times have never been an issue, so this isn’t an omission. evident.

Roku’s 4K Streaming Stick has Faster performance I guess

The latest batch of streaming sticks also feature more powerful quad-core processors, which are said to have 30% Faster boot times, but then again… it’s hard to tell much better performance here. All streams started without a hitch and never left me hanging for more than a few seconds.

Does Roku’s 4K Streaming Stick is worth the upgrade?

Ultimately, all of Roku’s latest streaming devices are solid choices, and none will leave customers with buyer’s remorse. With its wide selection of streamers, the real choice facing any Roku customer comes down to the details: do you prefer a device that can be hidden in its HDMI port, or are you okay with something a little bigger, like the Express 4K Plus? Whichever direction you end up in, the longest and the shortest of all is that at the end of the day you will end up with a very capable and easy to use transmitter. If it were me, I’d save my parts and go for the cheapest option available, but your mileage may vary.

ADVANTAGES

Fast and responsive performance

Sleek and small design

Supports Apple AirPlay and Dolby Vision

DISADVANTAGES

Voice features still lag behind Amazon Fire TV and Google TV

No Twitch app available

5GHz Wi-Fi connection issue during test

This Roku’s 4K Streaming Stick remote has all the functionality of the standard Roku voice remote, but also incorporates a mid-range microphone to control the device without picking up the remote, a headphone jack for private listening without the Roku app and a phone, and a range finder feature.

Apps and Apple Air Play

Roku’s 4k Streaming Stick platform is solid, but not as robust as with Amazon or Google. Most of the major video streaming services are present, including Amazon Prime Video, Apple TV+, Disney+, HBO Max, Hulu, Netflix, and YouTube (but not YouTube TV), plus many other niche services, such as Crunchyroll and Shudder. You can find plenty of free services on Roku, including apps from individual networks, Pluto TV, RetroCrush, and Roku’s own Roku channel, which adds a decent amount of free content.

As the name suggests, Roku’s Streaming Stick 4K can stream media at up to 4K resolution. Supports high dynamic range (HDR) content, including HDR10, HDR10+, and Dolby Vision. The addition of Dolby Vision and HDR10+ is new for this version of the device.

Despite the improved antenna, I had some trouble connecting the Streaming Stick 4K to my Wi-Fi network. It picked up my 2.4 GHz network with no problem, but the 5 GHz network just didn’t show up, despite repeated scans. I couldn’t even manually enter the SSID to connect it. Every other media streamer I tried, as well as every gaming system, phone, tablet, and PC, was able to connect to my 5GHz network. The device found other 5GHz networks in my building, so it seems to be more of a specific problem than a general problem connecting to networks on that frequency.

Even just connected to my 2. 4 GHz network, Roku’s 4K Streaming Stick performed well. It reached transmission speeds of 80 Mbps, well above the recommended speed of 50 Mbps for Roku’s 4K Streaming Stick media. (With a 5GHz connection, speeds can easily be four times faster.) For testing, I played 4K HDR content from Disney+ and HBO Max; movies and shows from both apps load quickly and reach full resolution.

Leave a Reply