Expand Your TV Viewing Experience With Roku
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A Roku is a device that streams media from the internet to your TV. It offers a practical and affordable way to add internet streaming or expand internet streaming options, to the TV and home theater viewing experience.
Roku requires minimal setup and connects to the internet the same way your PC does. Roku media streaming devices incorporate an operating system that allows users to access and manage internet streaming content.
To help you navigate the world of Roku, we’ve compiled all our articles on the device into a handy guide. You’ll see it’s separated into five sections: Get Started With Roku, Using Your Roku, Roku Tips & Tricks, Troubleshooting Your Roku, and Our Recommendations: Reviews and Devices. Inside each section are several articles filled with tips and hints for you. To use the guide, open the links in the navigation pane.
There are three types of Roku devices available:
Roku Hardware Is Smarter
Roku OS is intuitive, snappy, and user-friendly and the hardware is designed to complement that. For instance, Roku remotes are designed to keep various smart services in mind. Roku has mastered the art of making smart remote controls thanks again to its experience.
Unlike a regular TV remote, a Roku remote is not populated with many buttons. And most of the buttons that do show up are dedicated to certain services. Also, a Roku remote comes with a headphone jack, which means you can plug in your wired headphones into the remote and listen to your TV audio semi-wirelessly.
Smart TV manufacturers dont focus much on the smart features of their TV. Their focus is primarily on the hardware. Though quite a few big-name companies show signs of improvement, they are still way behind Roku and most other streaming devices.
Cons Of Having A Roku TV
Since were discussing the pros and cons of having a Roku TV, well have to mention the negatives.
Putting all your media in one place could have downsides. Also, Rokus software updates may sometimes render it unusable.
Furthermore, other streaming devices have their advantages over the Roku TV too. If you prefer alternative streaming apps, its probably better to use their proprietary devices.
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What Screen Resolution Do Smart TVs Provide
New smart TVs from the likes of Roku TV typically support up to 4K, which is the highest video resolution available for streaming content. However, smart TVs are available in three levels of screen resolution. These are:
- 1080p or Full High Definition : 1080p is the screen resolution most commonly referred to as HD. The screen resolution is used by standard HD TVs and offers 1,920 x 1,080 pixels.
- 4K or UHD: New smart TVs typically provide 4K resolution, which offers 4 times as many pixels and 4 times better video quality than standard HD. It offers 3,840 x 2,160 pixels, which makes the video quality more realistic and features more vivid colors.
- 8K or Full UHD : This is the highest level of video quality currently available in smart TV technology. Its resolution of 7,680 x 4,320 pixels offers 4 times the pixels and detail than that of a 4K TV. However, content cant yet be streamed in 8K video.
What Is The Difference Between Roku TV And A Smart TV
There are a lot of ways to access your streaming media services these days. There are smart TVs as well as streaming sticks that plug into the HDMI ports on your TV, with Roku being one of the most popular options. It can become confusing to keep up with the differences between them all with so many options.
A Smart TV is a TV that has internet connectivity and is capable of downloading apps, offering a variety of streaming services and content choices. Roku TV is a type of Smart TV that has the Roku operating system installed. The user experience is nearly identical to what you would get with other Roku devices.
If you are thinking about buying a Roku, or maybe just getting a smart TV, there are a few things you should consider. We will explore those in this article. By the end, you will have more confidence in making your choice between a Smart TV and a Roku TV.
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Do I Have To Pay A Subscription
No. There is no subscription fee required to use any of Rokus features, whether you buy a Roku player, Roku TV, or Roku Soundbar. However, Roku lets you access plenty of streaming services that do require a subscription. Netflix, Hulu, Disney+ HBO Max, and Hulu are all popular examples of subscription-based content. Youll also find its possible to access movie rental or purchase services, and these too require some form of payment.
Alongside the paid-content options are tons of completely free sources of content. Plus, most Roku devices let you access your personal collection of movies, TV shows, photos, and music. Some Roku players, like the Ultra, provide a dedicated USB port so you can plug in an external hard drive and play files directly.
Which Roku Option Is Best For You
Roku provides several options for adding comprehensive internet streaming to your TV viewing and music listening experience, but which option is right for you?
Here are some possibilities:
- If you have a TV with an HDMI connection but it does not have smart features consider adding a Roku streaming stick or Roku box.
- If you have an older TV that does not have an HDMI input Roku makes a limited number of models, such as the Roku Express+ that will connect to a TV using analog video/audio connections.
- If you have a smart TV, but it doesn’t offer the streaming channels you want you can add a standard Roku Streaming Stick or Roku Express, as a way to expand your selection.
- If you have a 4K Ultra HD TV and it is not a smart TV, or it is a smart TV that does not offer enough streaming channels, consider the Streaming Stick+ or Roku Ultra that support 4K streaming available from selected apps.
- If you are in the market for a new 1080p or 4K Ultra HD Smart TV a Roku TV might be an option to consider.
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A Lot More Affordable
Though smart TVs are coming down in price over the years , Roku streaming devices are still the more economical option. Roku streaming player prices begin at $29.99 only. The most expensive streaming device would always be considerably cheaper than most inexpensive smart TVs.
In other words, if a newer Roku comes to the market, it would be easier or more feasible to replace an existing Roku with the latest version. Smart TVs are used for at least 3 to 4 years. Upgrading smart TVs every other year, therefore, is not as simple and cost-effective.
Native Smart TV Oses Are Average At Best
Generally, integrated smart TV software is inferior and less intuitive compared to Roku OS. Most smart TV makers bundle in weird, difficult-to-navigate software into their televisions. The built-in streaming functionality also tends to be filled with bugs and can be frustratingly slow and clunky. And this could be due to both the software and hardware, as mentioned earlier.
Roku OS is not just more user-friendly, but it has also been around for years. This longevity means the OS has continuously been updated and is a lot more mature. And even if youre buying a Roku for the first time, the OS is intuitive and straightforward enough to learn and get acquainted with quickly.
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Can You Connect Roku To A Non
Yes, it is possible to connect your Roku device to your non-smart TV.
Roku makes use of HDMI , which means that it can transmit audio and video to your TV irrespective of whether it is a smart TV or not.
Even if your TV does not have an HDMI port, it is still possible to connect your Roku device to it either by using composite video cables directly or by using a composite to HDMI converter.
How Much Does Roku Cost
After the initial cost of a device, Roku is free to watch so long as you only watch the bundled channels. Paid services like Netflix or Amazon Video will require separate subscriptions to watch.
Every user requires a free Roku account. You will, however, be required to provide a credit card or PayPal account to create one. See our Roku getting started guide for an in-depth look at setting up your device.
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How Do Roku Channels Compare To The Rest
Roku and Amazon Fire TV are quite comparable in terms of channels. Both device families function much the same, in that you download channels and apps to watch on the streaming device. The functionality on them is even the same — you have a homepage with all your apps to access your TV and movies. There are a couple key differences between Amazon and Roku, though. For one, Amazon Fire TV has the YouTube TV channel, and Roku does not. Roku ended a deal with Google in April, meaning you can’t download YouTube TV on your Roku device if you don’t already have it. . The other difference is that Roku has the Roku Channel, and Amazon Fire TV obviously does not. While you might be able to find some of the Roku Channel’s content on other devices, you won’t find that specific collection of free viewing anywhere else.
How To Connect Roku To A Non
Connecting a Roku streaming device to your non-smart TV is relatively straightforward all you need to do is follow these steps:
Once you see the welcome screen, it means you have successfully connected your Roku device to your TV.
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Smart TVs Are Expensive
A budget or the lowest end smart TV costs more than the most premium Roku. And if youre looking to buy a smart TV from a renowned brand, the price gap only widens.
Moreover, at the lower end of the smart TV segment, you come across lesser-known brands or names you may not have heard of before. Spending your hard-earned dough on companies you are not familiar with is not easy regardless of how good your market research skills are.
The Roku Hardware Line
Roku offers a range of products. With prices starting at $30 and hovering around $100 at the high end, Roku has devices to cater to all kinds of users and budgets as you can see below:
- Roku Express: The Roku Express lets you stream HD online content, offering free access to more than 100 channels. It comes with a high-speed HDMI cable to get you started.
- Roku Premiere: This device lets you stream in HD and 4K and supports high dynamic range picture quality. It packs in a premium HDMI cable.
- Roku Streaming Stick: This streaming stick is a super-charged, wireless receiver that offers an extended wireless range to enable smooth streaming from any part of the house.
- Roku Streambar: If you are not content with your smart TVs streaming features and functions, upgrade it with a Roku Streamer. The device boasts powerful streaming and also offers a premium audio experience.
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What About Smart TVs With Built
Thanks to Rokus increasing popularity, there are smart TVs that employ Roku OS as their native OS. These Roku TVs are not drastically different from a regular smart TV. Still, Rokus excellent software offering access to more than 1,000 channels, a clean and straightforward user interface, cross-platform searchability, etc. make the Roku TVs better than regular smart TVs on the software front, at least.
The first set of smart TVs with Roku OS were from sub-tier brands. Though the implementation was good, the overall streaming experience wasnt that great, as the TV hardware wasnt the best. Thankfully, things have changed significantly over the years with brands such as TCL and Hisense adopting Roku.
The marriage between Roku and smart TV makers is still far from perfect as top-tier brands such as Samsung, LG, and Sony are not on board. Samsung and LG have their TV platforms: WebOS and Tizen Smart Hub . They are highly unlikely to ditch their TV platforms and adopt a third-party operating system.
Here are some smart TV brands and their app platforms:
Until bigger TV manufacturers wholeheartedly welcome Roku OS , Roku TVs wont have the best hardware and viewing experience. But if your budget for a smart TV is relatively small and you like the thought of smart televisions coming with Roku OS, the options are pretty decent.
Can You Watch Normal TV On A Roku TV
Yes, although that depends on what your definition of normal TV is. You can connect your TV to a receiver, set-top box, or cable box and watch TV that way, just as you would with any other TV. You can also connect an antenna and watch any free channels that you can pick up in your area. There is no requirement to use the Roku platform itself unless you want to stream apps and channels directly from your TV.
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Roku Vs Fire TV: Voice Recognition
Intimately tied to search these days is voice recognition, a feature most viewers will probably use the most. With both systems, its just a matter of pushing and holding the mic button on the remote control and asking for whatever you want.
Again, Rokus voice recognition focuses solely on finding programs and TV functions. You can switch to a connected PlayStation, return to the home screen, or you can ask for Akira Kurosawa films and get the right movies every time, no problem. Youll see icons for everything from Seven Samurai to Dreams. Roku will even break down results into movies, free, buy/rent, and subscriptions. It listed our Criterion Channel option, which made watching the movie free, as well as the fact that we could rent it from Amazon Prime for $2.99.
Roku will also search across apps like YouTube, and let you control basic TV functions. You can turn on closed captions, for example, and you can switch to different channels no matter where you are in Rokus interface. What Roku cannot do is give you a weather forecast or tell you a joke.
Of course, thats where Amazons Alexa really shines, and its built into Fire TV. As with Roku, you press and hold the remotes mic button to ask it anything from Whats the weather for tomorrow? to Find Clint Eastwood movies and youll generally get the right answer.
Winner: Amazon. Even though Alexa isnt available on all apps its still the leader.
How To Connect Roku To An Older TV With No Hdmi Port
If you have an older TV that does not have HDMI ports, you dont have to worry as you can still connect your Roku device to it.
Roku comes with many different variants, some of which are compatible with composite video cables.
If your Roku device does not support composite video cables, you can purchase a composite to HDMI converter.
To connect your Roku device to your older TV, all you need to do is follow the same steps listed above, using composite video cables to connect the devices together instead of an HDMI cable.
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A Roku Os Drawback: Streaming App Deadlock
Streaming device makers have issues with streaming service apps, but their issue differs from what smart TVs are grappling with. This has nothing to do with the quality of the streaming but the absence of certain streaming services on Roku instead.
Roku may not provide certain streaming service apps. For instance, NBCs Peacock and HBO Max apps are not available on Roku due to differences between the companies over customer data, advertising inventory, and revenue share. Currently, Roku offers access to the less premium HBO Now app that does not offer all HBO Max titles.