Roku just released 3 new 4K, ultra-HD streaming devices, starting at only $40 — here's how they stack up against Google's and Amazon's

RokuThe new Roku Ultra.

Using a Roku to stream 4K, ultra-HD TV and movies just got a lot cheaper.

The company on Monday announced three additions to its lineup of streaming devices: the Roku Premiere, Premiere Plus, and Ultra. These members of the Roku family had technically been on the market already, but these new models have notable upgrades, not to mention slashed prices.

By offering 4K streaming for as cheap as $US40, Roku is taking on competitors like Google and Amazon, which both offer a 4K-streaming device for about $US70. The Roku Premiere, its flagship 4K-streaming device, was offered at that same $US70 price point, but that’s now down to $US40 with this new model.

All three devices are available to preorder and will be shipped in October.

Here’s what they’re like:


The Roku Premiere is the company’s cheapest 4K-streaming device, at $US40.

Roku

The Premiere features streaming in 1080p, 4K, and HDR, with up to 60 frames per second. The device uses a standard infrared remote, with no voice controls. However, Roku’s free mobile app lets you search for TV, movies, and other videos with your voice.

This newer version of the Premiere features a smaller body than the previous model, and its price was lowered to $US40 from $US70.


The Premiere Plus is nearly identical to the Premiere, but it’s available only at Walmart. And the $US50 device features a voice-enabled remote.

Roku

The Premiere Plus is a Walmart exclusive. It’s identical to it cheaper cousin – except, notably, the remote has a microphone, so you can search Roku content with your voice.


The Roku Ultra is the most feature-packed and expensive member of the Roku family, priced at $US100.

Roku

The Roku Ultra isn’t receiving any significant upgrades from its previous iterations. But it will now include a pair of JBL headphones, usually $US40.

Those headphones will come in handy too – one of the main differences between this model and the cheaper devices is that users can plug headphones into the Ultra’s remote, allowing them to quietly listen to streamed shows or movies without bothering or waking anyone else in their home.

There’s also a “lost remote finder” feature, which plays a sound from the remote when you press a button on the Ultra device. Like the Premiere Plus, the Ultra features voice control via remote.

Aside from a nicer remote, the Roku Ultra also supports 1080p and 4K streaming, additional storage through microSD cards or USB, and a “night listening” mode that levels out the sound by lowering high-volume moments and raising low-volume moments. You can also connect the Ultra to the internet via an Ethernet port if the WiFi in your home isn’t optimal for streaming – a feature the Premiere lineup lacks.

All three Roku devices are advertised as having access to more than 500,000 movies and TV shows.


Google’s $US70 Chromecast Ultra is an obvious 4K-streaming competitor to the Premiere lineup, but Roku beats Google in price.

Google’s 4K Chromecast Ultra is pretty similar to what Roku offers – but at $US70, it comes at a higher price than Roku’s entry-level options.

But the Chromecast Ultra features an Ethernet port, something that Roku’s Premiere lineup doesn’t have. It’s also compatible with Google Assistant and Home devices, so you can control it with just your voice, no remote required (though Roku has announced compatibility with Google Home and Assistant as well, so that gap is narrowing).

It should be noted that the Chromecast is purely a streaming device and doesn’t feature internal storage like Amazon’s or Roku’s devices.


Amazon’s Fire TV is normally listed at $US70, but the price has recently been lowered to $US40.

Amazon

Amazon’s 4K Fire TV is also pretty similar to Roku’s lineup. It’s not clear whether the price drop to $US40 from $US70 is temporary or permanent.

The Fire TV has an Ethernet port, comes with 8 GB of internal storage, and supports voice control via Alexa through the remote. (Roku’s devices do not support Alexa control.)

The Fire TV also compatible with Amazon’s Echo lineup of home speakers, so if you’re already invested in the Amazon ecosystem, the Fire TV might make the most sense.

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