2016 Roku Buying Advice

After busting out several dozen new Rokus today, I wanted to chime in with some initial purchasing advice.


2015 Roku 3 (~$80)
If you’re not yet on the 4K bandwagon, but want a great balance of streamer performance with a tricked out remote capable of voice recognition and headphones, I actually suggest you look for a deal on last year’s Roku 3 model.

2016 Roku Streaming Stick ($50)
If a more compact form with snappier quad-core performance interest you and you don’t mind giving up the advanced remote control, the Roku Streaming Stick provide a great balance of pricing and performance. Although a new Amazon Fire TV Stick is expected any day now…

Roku Express ($30)
This will no doubt be one of the top selling stocking stuffers of 2016 and I’d absolutely recommend the Roku Express for family members new to the fold… or to gift yourself in tertiary rooms in the home. It’s dirt cheap and the interface is simplistic enough for most.

The 4K Conundrum
On the 4K front, the situation is a bit tricker and I’d suggest waiting for some real world reviews. Barring that, if you don’t have an HDR-capable set, you may as well save a few bucks with the Premiere ($80). The Premiere+ at $20 more gets you HDR, the RF headphone remote, and Ethernet, whereas the $50 more Ultra builds upon that with voice remote, optical out, and a remote finder. Even fully loaded at $130, the Roku Ultra will surely clock in less ($$$) than the 4K Apple TV that must be in the pipeline.

25 thoughts on “2016 Roku Buying Advice”

  1. The Ultra model will also decode DD and DD+. Which seems like a new feature for a Roku box. I don’t recall them decoding it before. I thought it used to be just pass through?

  2. The Ultra looks to have a well-rounded feature set. But there are too many models – you basically need a flowchart to determine which has the exact features you need now or may need later. It’ll be confusing and frustrating for many when compared to Amazon and Apple. Shoulda gone with a S, M, L approach. Given the Roku 4, I’m waiting to hear from early adopters on heat, possible noise, etc.

  3. But there are certainly plenty of people that have 4K sets that are not HDR capable. So I would think those people don’t mind having a 4K Roku without HDR. Otherwise they would need to needlessly pay $20 more for the HDR version.

  4. As long as there’s one available with Ethernet, I’m happy. Our motto here is “If it don’t move, it gets an Ethernet cable”. Can’t beat the reliability & speed of a wire :)

  5. With Rokus I’ve always had identical speed and reliability whether I use a wired or wireless connection. Streaming services use low bitrate streams. If your WiFi network is setup properly there will be zero issues.

    Well actually when I say reliability I guess that is when the wired connection doesn’t cause standby issues. I switched my Roku 4 to wireless to avoid some standby issues. But as far as useability and speed, I’ve seen no difference between the wired or wireless connection. Everything starts playing pretty much right away(or at most within a few seconds) at the 4K resolution.

  6. Some people have legitimate wireless issues for a variety of reasons even in the home of expert IT pros who know how to set-up a home network for as robust as they can design. I know one relative who has SIGNIFICANT wireless issues due mostly to layout of her house, but also some congestion. I have fairly robust wireless in most rooms of my house, but if I get to the “back” room, then there are concessional problems. They are some fixes, but they come with compromise. issues. Wired beats wireless any day, but that does not mean that wireless is necessarily a problem for those who in the right place and circumstance to have function in a robust manner.

  7. If they have issues like they say, then they don’t have enough Access points. You need multiple APs to provide the proper coverage. At work we would never just put a few APs in a business. You could not get the coverage needed.

    A persons home is no different. To properly set up a home network, you need multiple APs to get the proper coverage. I have five APs in my one level 1350 sqft condo. It makes sure every wireless device always has excellent signal strength and no congestion.

    I see peoples homes that try to run one or two APs to cover multiple levels. WHen they need many times that to have a properly setup WiFi network. And then they wonder why they have issues when they only have one or two APs.

  8. Cord Cutters News is reporting NO fans are present in this generation of 4K Roku box. That’s a good start. Hopefully no heat issues at all. Still waiting for someone other than me to verify. Also still waiting to see what the new Amazon Fire TV Stick has to offer. Right now our family room television has a Fire TV and the master bedroom has a Roku 3. (The Apple TV is packed up in the basement.) Either/both could be replaced… we’ll see.

  9. Wondering if Roku Express will be able to run PS Vue better than the Roku 2 does which is barely at all. With the upgraded specs I assume so but waiting for confirmation before investing in one for my daughter.

  10. What year Roku 2 do you have? The 2015 edition has the same processor as the 2015 Roku 3. Whereas prior generations were not equivalent and obviously older. Having said that, if you’re a cord cutter I’d recommend a higher tier than the Express since that’s the entry level model and Roku is your primary source of content.

  11. I tried an older Roku 2 (XS) and didn’t have any issues with VUE performance wise. I dropped Vue after the free trial because of the interface/lack of guide, but that’s in Sony’s court. Might try it again down the line.

  12. Has anyone been able to get the $50 off coupon from Roku? I’m still waiting to hear back from them. If I can get one I will definitely be picking up the Roku Ultra.

  13. Any chance you tried it with Plex. My iPhones and iPads drive Plex from the same server so much faster than our two year old Rokus. Would upgrade if Plex on a new Roku was snappier.

  14. Dave, I have the Ultra it seems to be working well. There is no noise and heat is minimal. I don’t have a 4K TV, but bought the Ultra as it has other nice features. The remote is nice, but takes some getting used to. I keep accidentally hitting the search button!

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