Roku Express 4K review – a streaming stick that is hard to beat

The Roku Express 4K is one of Roku’s cheaper streaming devices, but it still delivers quality entertainment despite its mind-boggling competitive price. In fact, with its 4K clear picture, range of downloadable apps, and simple interface, it stands on par (if not even surpassing) the more pricey devices on the streaming market today.

For just £39.99 or $39.99, the Roku Express 4K gives you access to the expected main streaming services (Netflix, Disney Plus, and so on), comes with automatic game console configuration, and has automatic Wi-Fi network detection.

Not to be confused with the Roku Express 4K Plus (arguably the more expensive and elegant option in the company’s streaming boxes/sticks lineup), the Roku Express 4K is an affordable alternative to Roku’s products that gives you everything you need. Personally, I loved playing around with it, and found little to complain about. Although it isn’t perfect, with its cheap price, reliable picture and streaming quality, it is safe to say that it’s an affordable 4K streaming stick that is hard to beat.

Pros:

  • Cheap Ultra 4K option
  • Easy to set up and use
  •  Support for HDR10, HDR10+ and HLG
  •  Good range of apps available

Cons:

  • No voice support on the control
  • No volume buttons on the control
  •  Lacks Dolby Vision

Overall review

The Roku Express 4K is on the smaller side; however, in some ways, that is preferable as streaming sticks (aka. chunky dongles) can be an eyesore. The device and remote have curved edges, and a clean simple design which is aesthetically pleasing to the eye, and will look fine on your coffee table. However, thanks to its size and an adhesive strip that comes included on the base of the stick , it is easy to hide the device (just remember to keep it in view for the remote to work), or blend it into your setup by resting it on top of your TV (especially mounted ones), if you prefer a more inconspicuous option.

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The Roku Express 4K comes with two ports, an HDMI slot to connect to your TV and a Micro-USB port to power the device. There is a small reset button on the back, next to the ports, and on the front, there is an infrared receiver and a power LED.

The design is essentially incredibly user friendly with close to everything that you need. In its box, the product comes with a main adapter and USB cable for those who don’t have a spare USB port on their TV, and a 0.7m HDMI cable. There is a plug in and go kind of feeling to the set-up, and if you ever feel confused, a super accessible guide takes you through the process step by step.

Once you have created a Roku account and signed in via your TV, users are met with a friendly welcome screen that will simply explain how to add and remove apps, such as Netflix or games, to your TV. It is all incredibly straightforward and one of the best set-up user experiences to be had.

The remote is somewhat of a divisive issue. Unlike more expensive streaming sticks, the Roku Express 4K lacks built-in voice control in its remote. Users will have to download a companion app. This can be a hassle as you will need your phone by your side to use the function. There is also a lack of volume controls on the actual remote itself, which again adds to the hassle of basic functionality that many streaming stick users may take a while to adjust to.

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There is also a lack of Dolby Vision with the Roku Express 4K, but it supports HDR10, HDR10+ and HLG. However, the Roku Express 4K more than makes up for its lacking features with the vast amount of content it brings to the table.

There are well over 900 apps available to download, ranging from film, TV, games, music, health and fitness, and even cute screensavers to personalise your home screen with. With the stunning 4K picture quality, it is pretty much a dream to watch and browse through all these choices, and in many ways, you’re left feeling like a kid in a candy store as you start to play around with the streaming stick.

The audio quality isn’t half bad either. Although it doesn’t support Dolby Atmos, like some of its more expensive counterparts, for the price you pay, The Roku Express 4K does support pass-through for DTS Digital Surround and Dolby-encoded audio over HDMI, which is pretty decent.

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One of the main pluses about the Roku Express 4K is the simple and sleek interface by the Roku OS. The home screen is easy to navigate, and jumping between apps is quick and efficient. What would make this even better would be a built-in voice search function in the remote, but you know how we feel about that already.

Overall thoughts:

The Roku Express 4K is a joy to use and set up. Few other products can deliver such a high-quality picture, a huge amount of apps, and is extremely user friendly for the price range. Big streaming stick users may find an issue with a few missing features, like Dolby Vision or the voice search feature. But at the end of the day, for the price you pay, the easy to navigate interface makes browsing apps a breeze, and just the flat out excellent user experience makes the Roku Express 4K stand easily as one of the best streaming sticks money can buy.

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Emma-Jane Betts

Staff Writer

Updated: Jun 28, 2021


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Roku Express 4K

Few other products can deliver such a high-quality picture, a huge amount of apps, and is extremely user friendly for the price range.

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