Starting at the bottom, we have the $30 Roku Express, which is in essence a replacement for the venerable Roku 1. The unit itself is roughly 75 percent smaller than its predecessor, and offers up twice the processing performance. The tiny device packs in an HDMI port, offers up 1080p streaming, and can connect to 802.11b/g/n wireless networks. An IR remote and an HDMI cable are included in the box (along with an adhesive strip to stick the device to the back of your TV if you desire).
If you need to use the newer Roku devices on a older TV, there’s the Roku Express+ which includes all the same functionality of the Express, but adds a composite jack along with included composite cables.
There’s quite a big jump in pricing to the next tier of Roku players, where you’ll find the Roku Premiere, which rings in at $80. The Roku Premiere brings 60 fps 4K UHD playback, along with HDCP 2.2 compatibility. The Roku Premiere is powered by a quad-core processor and it beefs up connectivity options with 802.11ac MIMO dual-band wireless.
There will also be a Roku Premiere+, priced at $100, which ups the ante with HDR support, an enhanced remote with a headphone jack for “private listening”, a microSD slot which allows you to expand your channel support, and an Ethernet port for those that rock-solid connectivity with minimal interference.
At the top of the totem pole is the Roku Ultra, which is a clear evolution of last year’s Roku 4. It includes Dolby Digital and Dolby Digital Plus decoding, optical out, a USB port to boost local storage, and lost remote functionality which will help “rescue” your remote from the dark abyss beneath your couch cushions.
Roku is hoping to pad its lead in the streaming devices market with this top-to-bottom product revamp. According to comScore, Roku has a commanding 49 percent of the streaming devices market. The next closest player, Google, has 22 percent of the market with its Chromecast.