The new Roku Streaming Stick + is the best streaming device you can buy Review
Roku have been market leader in the UK in terms of service coverage for a long time but some were beginning to feel that the company had abandoned the UK following the non-appearance of their first 4K device on our shores. Thankfully, this despondency was misplaced and while we may have had to wait longer than our US chums for 4K support we can now celebrate the fact that this oversight is no more - and even better, the device they've introduced it with is a cracker.
Smaller than a Chromecast or Fire TV Stick, the 4K Roku Streaming Stick + is a tiny device that packs a huge punch. It's the fastest Roku by far with the interface feeling slicker than ever and the fact that it crams the ability to play full UHD content into such a small unit is nearly unbelievable.
All of the core terrestrial catchup services are here in their full form - no licensing restrictions meaning that some content is missing as on the Fire TV or some Smart TV apps. You have iPlayer, ITV Hub, All 4 and Demand 5 to cover off the free-to-air stuff. Then there's full support for Now TV, Netflix (including 4K), Google Play Movies, TV Player (which gives you full access to Freeview channels and loads more via a paid subscription via the web) and Amazon (again 4K is present and correct). There are loads of other 'channels' available including BBC News, Sky News, Plex, YouTube and Vevo - it's a huge list, that covers almost all bases.
The main Roku interface hasn't changed for a few years - it's on a par with most smart TVs but is so much more responsive - it might not have the gloss of a Fire TV stick but it also doesn't have the artificial limitations that Amazon's device brings with it.
While the Roku stick doesn't support full Google Cast, you can still cast many major apps from your smartphone including Netflix and YouTube. We'd love to see Roku and Google team up to offer more comprehensive casting functionality, but it isn't a deal breaker.
The biggest negative isn't one of Roku's doing - really, the only thing we can pick fault with is the Amazon Prime Video app which feels positively prehistoric compared to what Netflix have on offer. It feels like it hasn't been updated in years and while all the content is present and correct it's just not as pretty as their dedicated Fire TV apps; clearly a decision driven by Amazon wanting the best experience on their own-labelled kit.
In terms of visual performance there is nothing to criticise - all video plays as well as it can - from SD right up to 4K HDR where supported, everything looks great. There is no audio output so you're reliant on whichever device you plug it into being able to extract the best audio possible. There is support for Dolby Atmos (but no Dolby Vision).
The remote is great - small and functional with the amazingly useful addition of being able to control the TV volume directly; something that quickly becomes essential.
802.11ac MIMO dual-band wireless is on board but there is no ethernet socket for locations where wireless signal struggles - this could potentially be an issue for some but we haven't had any wireless dropouts at the furthest points from our router.
In all, the Roku Streaming Stick+ is an essential device if you find your smart TV doesn't quite cut the mustard in terms of your media playback requirements. It's entirely replaced the built in apps on my Samsung TV and LG TVs and even when not using the headline HDR 4K feature set it is still a phenomenal piece of kit.