Roku Streaming Stick+ full review
For 2017, Roku has simplified its range of media streamers in the UK with just a choice of two different sticks. Here we take a look at the more expensive and premium model in our Roku Streaming Stick+ review.
In the past, Roku's line-up of devices might have been a little confusing for some consumers. And although it's a shame we don't get all the models available in the US, perhaps choosing between two is a better strategy.
Out of the two devices, the Roku Streaming Stick+ is the more expensive at £79, while the Roku Express is the budget option at £29. We'll explain the difference between the two later.
In terms of rivals, many of the best media streamers around are a lot cheaper with the Amazon Fire TV Stick at £39 and the Google Chromecast 2 at £30 – those are just RRPs and both can be picked up for less at the time of writing.
However, those don't offer 4K streaming which this Roku does so the equivalent from Amazon and Google sit at £69 each. Meanwhile, the Apple TV 4K is a lot more at £179.
Overall then, the Streaming Stick+ is a pretty solid price for a 4K media streamer.
Design and build
If you're not accustomed to streaming sticks yet, they are a bit like a USB flash drive but a bit bigger and with an HDMI port instead. Rather than a larger box that sits under your TV, it plugs directly into the back.
The Streaming Stick+ has had small redesign so is now shiny black plastic instead of purple like the original. Not that it really matters since you won't see the device unless you look behind the TV.
Roku's main change is that the wireless receiver is now built into the power cable, which on most TVs will run from a spare USB port rather than plugging into the mains. This new design provides up to four times the performance, according to Roku so could be a life saver if the room doesn't have good Wi-Fi signal – we've not had any issues.
The problem, as with similar devices, is that the rigid stick shape might not fit into all TVs. It depends how your set has the HDMI ports positioned. This is easily rectified with a short extension cable but Roku doesn't include one in the box. However, you can request one for free which helps.
Set up is pretty simple, although you still need a Roku account to connect the Streaming Stick+ to. The big advantage of a small device like this is being able to take it with you to a friend's house or even a hotel and stream to you hearts content.
A new remote comes with the Streaming Stick+ which is similar yet tweak compared to previous ones. You get some shortcut buttons to services like Netflix and it doesn't need line-of-sight to work which is nice.
Roku has added power and volume buttons which can be used to control most TVs – we even got it to work with the Sonos Playbar – so you can do more with it. However, it's a shame not to see the headphone port which we loved on the Roku 3. Luckily you can use the free Roku app to use the Private Listening feature.
Specs and features
It's taken a while, but as alluded to earlier, Roku has finally brought a 4K streamer to the UK. And that's the main reason to get this model over the much cheaper Express.
4K, or Ultra HD, means the Streaming Stick+ can stream content in up to 2160p at 60fps and can also upscale from 720p and 1080p. You'll need a TV that has a 4K resolution, otherwise this feature is going to waste.
There's more and more content available in Ultra HD and that's only going to increase and Roku has a neat 4K Spotlight channel to highlight the content that's available to watch in the higher resolution.
The Streaming Stick+ also supports HDR10 (High Dynamic Range) for better picture quality including colours but again, you'll need a TV with this feature.
Roku hasn't messed about with its user interface much and that's a good thing – if it ain't broke comes to mind – although you will likely want to turn off the annoying sound for every time you move around menus.
The interface is one reason to get the Roku over rivals like the Chromecast which relies on content being cast from a device like smartphone. It makes things a lot simpler and works much better for browsing through content to find something to watch.
Roku's interface means you can easily search channels and also content via name, actor, rating and more. The Streaming Stick+ also supports voice search via the app if typing to too arduous.
It's also still the case that Roku has a huge line-up of available services. Really there are too many – hundreds as many are very niche – but the main thing is that all the big names are there.
Whether you want Netflix, Amazon Prime Video, YouTube, All 4, Sky Now TV, Spotify, ITV Player, Demand 5. The list goes on (you can search channels here before you buy) and still trumps rivals despite them catching up somewhat.
Roku Streaming Stick+: Specs
- Point anywhere remote control
- HDMI 2.0a
- Up to 2160p at 60fps (3840 × 2160)
- USB power cable with advanced wireless receiver
- 802.11ac MIMO dual-band wireless
- DTS Digital Surround pass through over HDMI
- <3W (typical) when streaming 4K UHD video