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Roku 4 Review: Techie And User Consensus

Roku 4 In Brief

Roku 4Roku 4 is the fastest and most powerful of Roku’s streaming media devices. The small box connects directly to a TV to gives users easy access to a vast selection of shows, movies, music and streaming media. Roku 4 came out in late 2015. (Looking for the prior model? Read the Roku 3 review.) Cost: $129.

ReviewFeatures & CompatibilityRoku 4 vs. Roku StickDemo

Roku 4 Review

The wTVPC Cord Cutters Club™ performed a meta review of the Roku 4 media streaming box. We looked at Roku 4 reviews from TEN SEPARATE SOURCES in the tech industry and compiled the results. Here’s what we found.

Roku 4 screen

Reviews analyzed: Consumer Reports, CNET, TechRadar, PC Mag, Gizmodo, Arstechnica, The Verge, Digital Trends, TechnoBuffalo, and Tom’s Guide–plus Amazon and Best Buy Customer Reviews

Average Rating: 4/5 STARS

Amazon Customer Rating: 3.5/5 Stars (Under 1,000 reviews; See customer comments)

Best Buy Customer Rating: 4.3/5 Stars (Under 500 reviews)

Biggest Likes: 

+ The biggest selection of content, channels and apps—3,000+, more than any other media streaming device

+ Simple interface

+ Voice search, and handy remote locator

+ 4K ultra-high definition support (for those with 4K TVs)

+ Very fast and powerful

+ Remote works with headphones for private listening, as a gaming controller with motion control

+ Best quote: “Simply put: The Roku 4 is the best 4K Ultra HD streaming set-top box on the market today.” –Caleb Denison, Digital Trends

Biggest Dislikes: 

— Early users say it’s buggy

— Voice search can be hit-or-miss

— Gaming options are fewer compared to other devices (Amazon Fire TV 2015)

— Best quote: “The Roku 4 is the best way to get the most 4K video today, but isn’t worth the extra money for most buyers.” –CNET

wTVPC’s Bottom Line: The big thing Roku 4 does differently than Roku 3 is offer 4K picture quality. If that’s something you care about–for example, if you have a 4K TV and are eager to make the most of it–then the device is a great choice. However, 4K hasn’t yet hit the mainstream. 4K content, while growing, is still comparatively scarce, and 4K TVs tend to come with 4K apps already installed.

Other than that, the Roku 3 is probably a better way to go. It remains a top-notch device that won’t disappoint and is $30 cheaper. The Roku Streaming Stick, which is undervalued in our opinion, is also definitely worth a look and will only set you back $49.

⊕ Compare Roku 4 to other media streaming devices

Roku 4’s Features

Roku 4 checks all the boxes for a great media streaming device. It’s powerful, fast, and comes with more content options than any of its competitors. You can watch TV, movies, sports, play games, listen to music, use non-entertainment Apps, and the list goes on. Roku offers a native Amazon Prime Video app, which Apple TV and Chromecast do not.

One of Roku 4’s coolest features is the remote control locator. Say goodbye to the days of tearing apart the couch searching for a lost remote. With Roku 4, just hit a button on the player and the remote will cry out for you from wherever it’s been lost.

Roku was an early pioneer of universal search, and Roku 4 builds on that with a new operating system. This makes it even easier to find the content you’re after, and to see all the sources you can get it from. Without any of its own content to push, you don’t have to deal with a platform that prioritizes for them. The result is a more pleasant user experience.

Roku 4 has voice search function, which is unchanged from the prior model. It’s not as powerful as the systems in Apple TV (Siri) or Amazon Fire TV (Alexa), however.

Being able to plug headphones into the remote for individual listening is also a big fan favorite. This is great for users with light-sleeping spouses, children, or roommates.

Roku 4 works with almost any TV and has dual-band wireless, HD support, HDMI, USB and Ethernet ports, a microSD slot, and a quad-core processor. The mobile app has been improved and lets you “fling” content from a device to your TV.

The Roku 4 release was so hotly anticipated one wondered if the actual device could ever live up to expectations. Roku 4 doesn’t exactly wow, since little has changed other than the addition of 4K.

Roku 4’s Compatible Devices & Services

Roku 4 works as a standalone device. It doesn’t require a phone, tablet or computer, though you can use another device to control it if you want. The Roku app works with iOS and Android systems for casting, streaming and to turn your mobile into a remote control.

In the content and streaming services department, Roku 4 beats the competition. It supports Netflix, Hulu, Amazon Prime Video, and about 3,000 others. Roku clearly separates paid content from free stuff, making it easy to see what’s available and for how much.

Roku 4 vs. Roku Streaming Stick

Roku 4 is the most advanced of the Roku line, with 4K and faster processing than the Roku Streaming Stick. But for the most part they’re well matched, and essentially equal in the content department, which is what most people care about most.

Differences between Roku 4 and the Roku Streaming Stick:

+ $129 vs. $49

+ Remote has a headphone jack for private listening

+ 4K support

+ Ethernet port

+ USB port

+ Micro SD card

+ Faster processor

+ Remote functions as a motion-control gaming controller

Roku 4 Demo

Roku 4 is one of the easiest media streamers to set up and use. For some extra help, and a hands-on look at how the device works, here’s a great demo from the pros at CNET.

WATCH: Roku 4 Demo & Review