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Great news — the latest generation of the Roku Ultra is here! However, the bad news is you’re still stuck with the same dilemma you face every year a new device drops. Do you shell out for yet another Roku Ultra? Or, do you stick with that old Roku Ultra or streaming stick that’s still kicking? I would tell you what to do now, but then you wouldn’t read this Roku Ultra review. Come on, let’s explore this year’s Roku Ultra together.
The latest Roku Ultra is by far one of the fastest and most powerful streaming devices on the market today, but these gains in performance are somewhat negligible when compared to its price and the functionality of previous generations of devices.
Sleek, simple, dare we say … sophisticated? The Roku Ultra is a powerful, yet unassuming device that you can pick up with one hand and tuck into any available crevice in your entertainment center (or slap it on top of the TV, really, this thing can fit anywhere).
Right out of the box, the Roku Ultra comes with everything you need (and maybe a bit more), including the streaming player, the Roku Voice Remote Pro, headphones for private listening, a power adapter, a USB charging cable for recharging your remote, and a premium high-speed HDMI cable. We liked that Roku throws in all the bits and pieces (unlike other streaming devices), as it removes all the guesswork you have to do during setup.
Okay, so we aren’t saying hooking up streaming devices is exactly rocket science, but we found setting up the Roku Ultra to be easier than pouring your morning cup of coffee (well, unless you have one of those fancy espresso machines).
All we had to do was connect the HDMI cord to the device and TV and plug the Roku Ultra into the power outlet using the provided power adapter. Bada bing, bada boom! Just like that, with the Roku Ultra, you’re in business and ready to start streaming (after pairing your remote, creating your account, and picking your apps, that is).
One of our favorite features of the Roku Ultra was our ability to connect the device via Ethernet cable. Streaming sticks and smart TVs are notorious for weak Wi-Fi connections. The Roku Ultra gives you the power to connect directly to your modem or router. Do you know your old nemesis, buffering? Yeah, that’s the last you’ll be seeing of him when you get the Roku Ultra.
By the time we got to the home screen for the Roku Ultra, Roku had already positioned our seats in the upright position for streaming takeoff. That’s because during the Roku profile process, you pick all the apps, trials, and services you want on your Roku Ultra. When you reach the home screen (ta-da!), it’s all already there!
When it comes to the apps themselves, the sky’s the limit when it comes to the Roku Ultra. Whether you want to watch your favorite Star Wars series on Disney Plus, or you’re interested in watching live sports on DIRECTV STREAM, the Roku Ultra empowers you to pick and customize the apps and the device as you please. Heck, you can even change the theme if the sleek purple Roku backgrounds aren’t exactly your flavor.
Navigating the Roku Ultra app selection was easy and intuitive. Not only was everything laid out in specific categories, such as Featured Free, Live TV, and What to Watch, but the powerful processor of the Roku Ultra allowed us to slide between menu items and apps without any lagging moments. We found that this feature of the Roku Ultra was one of its best, as other underpowered streaming solutions usually exhibit jittery and erratic menu switches.
One aspect we felt really distinguished the Roku Ultra from other devices in the lineup, such as the Roku Express 4K Plus or the Roku Streaming Stick 4K, was the inclusion of the Roku Voice Remote Pro. While a remote is something many people often overlook, this remote really took streaming to the next level.
Not only could we charge the Roku Voice Remote Pro via USB, we could also listen to shows and music through the Roku Ultra through the pair of provided headphones we attached to the remote. That means, no matter how loud your dog is barking at the squirrel outside or your kids are fighting over the last chicken nugget from snack time, you and bliss are only two earphones away.
As a side note, we are notorious for losing things like remotes in the sea of streaming devices we test regularly (we know, we know, we’re irresponsible with shiny things). With the Roku Ultra and Roku Voice Remote Pro, we were able to download the Roku Official Remote Control App when we misplaced the remote. We were able to find it using a sonar sound that comes out of the remote’s speaker. (That’s the last time I take the remote to the bathroom with me, I promise.)
Okay, enough about menus, remotes, and settings! What about streaming? We tested the Roku Ultra’s TV compatibility, and it lived up to the maximum 4K 60 fps resolution with Dolby Vision advertised by the company. It also worked well at other resolutions, including 2160p at 60 fps, 1080p, and 720p. No matter what TV you have at home, the Roku Ultra will get the most out of it with the included high-speed HDMI cable.
Remember that Ethernet port from earlier? Well, this capability of the Roku Ultra is where it really shined. We plugged the device into our AT&T fiber internet modem directly using an Ethernet cord, and we didn’t experience a second of buffering or unstable connection warnings. From watching live TV through Sling TV to binge-watching all the episodes of “Harley Quinn” on HBO Max, the Roku Ultra with an Ethernet connection was a match made in streaming heaven.
You might be saying to yourself, “Yeah, all those features are fine and dandy, but do I really need to buy the Roku Ultra when I already have a streaming device?” Well, that’s a pretty good question you asked there. (Plus, are you psychic? Because we were thinking the same thing … .)
At $99.99, the Roku Ultra isn’t exactly a cheap purchase for a streaming device, especially compared to the Amazon Fire TV Stick or other Roku Streaming Sticks that are all under $50 apiece. However, what does the Roku Ultra offer that they don’t? Power.
While it may be simple to say, streaming sticks are just that — slimmed-down versions of what a streaming player should offer. Many of them can’t connect through Ethernet like the Roku Ultra. Most come with a skinny internal processor that will overheat and struggle under the weight of a 24-hour bingeathon of “The Sopranos” for the third weekend in a row. These are things to consider when comparing a streaming player like the Roku Ultra versus a budget-conscious streaming device like one of these stick solutions.
At the end of the day, the Roku Ultra is one of the best streaming device solutions on the market today. It offers one of the most powerful devices on an easy-to-use platform with integrated functionalities, such as the ability to connect to the internet over Ethernet and control the device using smart assistant features.
That said, if you already have a previous generation of the Roku Ultra or a similar streaming player of this capacity, this new generation may not be a major improvement for you. On the other hand, if you don’t have a streaming player already, or you’re using a streaming stick that just isn’t cutting it, we definitely recommend checking out the Roku Ultra for your home streaming entertainment.
Great review. And you are VERY funny.
As a grandparent, I am not really offended by some of your remarks, since you do explain some things in a simple manner. In my research, I wanted to know about this “new” technology, and I now have a better idea of what Roku does. I will now read your articles on how to get TV channels for free, or at least find out if is really possible to get free access to TV without having to pay the cable company for a bunch of useless channels I never use. Thank you!
Do NOT confuse statements saying ‘live TV’ with OTA live broadcasts, as it is different and is intentionally misleading.
It is called and antenna, I have been doing HDTV via OTA for about a decade. Bye Bye Comcast.
Not that helpful. It’s very important how much buffering memory is available. Most people reading reviews know tge basics. Wading thru the primer is annoying when all you need to know is how the $69 Roku Ultra 2020 buffering memory compares to the $99 Roku Ultra 2022. Usually there are new features and upgrades to extol when a manufacturer issues a new midel at a higger price. You have completely missed the boat. A thoroughly MEH review!
Just got a streaming stick on cyber Monday and I love it. I want to get a roku for my main tv as I’m getting rid of cable. I don’t have a 4K tv, but probably will upgrade in the next year or two. Only difference I notice btw the ultra and streaming stick + is the Ethernet connection. Anything else I’m missing? I leaning towards the stick + to save a little money
The Roku Ultra has a headphone jack (headphones included) for private listening. It also has SD and USB ports for external storage (not really necessary for most users). Wired internet connections are always faster than their Wi-Fi counterparts, so the Ethernet jack is definitely nice to have, but the Streaming Stick+ has a great Wi-Fi antenna and is a great value. It’s hard to go wrong with either, if you ask me!
I would prefer reading more of your writing to watching more TV.
Is the Roku Ultra compatible with Vizio 4k Capable TV?
Yep, that should work just fine! A Roku Ultra can plug into any TV with an HDMI input (and all TVs have those, unless they’re pretty ancient). And the Roku Ultra is 4K-capable, so a 4K TV like that Vizio you mentioned would be a good choice.
Yes I have Vizio and ultra
Can I add Live TV to Roku Ultra Easily ?
Yes, you can! Check out some options here: https://cordcutting.com/how-to-watch/live-tv-on-roku/
Does it do 4K HDR DOLBY VISION yet ?
I believe the Dolby Vision is lacking HDR on the 4800. Bluetooth is also input only so so audio to a headset.
I have a Roku ultra will not operate more than an hour without overheating issue it is almost useless
I have the same issue with over heating that is why I only buy the cheap ones. ( I’ve had an expensive ruku 2019 model) why can’t you make a good product? Any way I only use ruku on my bedroom tv. My family tv is a fire 4I tv!
The 4670 works fine. You are probably talking about the 4800.
Why don’t they post the year of the device on the box? I see several Roku ultras on amazon at wide ranging prices. which one is the newest? Why should I have to guess?
Any with Dolby Vision are the 4800.
Hi Stephen, this is good review. Thank you for your time. Can you please comment on the addition of Airplay 2 to select 4K streaming device, which was announced on September 28? Does this mean I can screen mirror my iPhone onto my non-smart TV thru Roku Ultra?Even some HDCP and DRM video (e.g. those on Amazon Prime Video) should be able to play on Roku Ultra, right? Many thanks again.
That’s how it would work with any device with Airplay 2, but I don’t think Roku has yet confirmed which “select 4K devices” are getting AirPlay 2. I know that some of Roku’s smart TVs are getting it, but it’s not clear to me whether or not it’s coming to the Roku Ultra (and which model years will be supported if it does). Hopefully, we’ll learn more soon! If Roku does confirm Airplay 2 on the Roku Ultra, then I believe it should work just as you’re describing.
Hi Stephen, can I download Hallmark Channel through the Streaming Channels menu on the 2021 ROKU ultra?
Hi Harry, thanks for reading! The short answer is yes, you can. The Hallmark app is actually called “Hallmark Movies Now,” and it lets you watch Hallmark Channel movies on demand for $5 a month. If you want to watch the live Hallmark Channel feed that you’d get with cable, you can do that on Roku by using a pay TV service that includes Hallmark Channel — check out the full list here https://cordcutting.com/how-to-watch/hallmark-channel/
This generation supports Dolby Vision for the first time ever in a Roku streaming device. If you are going to review a product you should at least put in some effort. No mention of it supporting Dolby Atmos, which just like the previous version it does support.
I just purchased this, and was extremely disappointed. The picture was always unstable, and the screen constantly blinked in and out. It was impossible to watch. I had to restart the device every time I turned on the TV to just make it watchable. No matter what I tried, I couldn’t fix it. I returned it for a full refund.
I have had NO problems with my 4670.
I have been trying to find if the 2020 ultra model still has the ability for the remote control to be used without line of sight, but there is no information anywhere about that. Your reviews states, “Roku’s universal remote is a step in the right direction, even if lacks a feature or two.” However, you don’t mention the feature of two that is lacking making me wonder if the feature I’m looking for is present. I ready your review, along with a couple of others, twice in case I missed that tidbit. I mount my roku behind the media center cabinet, so this feature is a must for me. Also, stating the streaming stick+ is better when the new ultra is the only roku to support the new Dolby Vision is rather odd to me. Good review otherwise.
Hi Jeff, thanks for reading! We haven’t gotten our hands on the 2020 model just yet, but from what I can tell it appears to come with the regular line of sight remote. Roku has an “enhanced” remote that uses radio frequency signals and doesn’t have to have line-of-sight — it’s sold separately and works with the Roku Ultra and Roku Ultra LT.
My 4670 uses IR only to power up and then uses Bluetooth just like my NVidia Shield remotes.
Hi Stephen is Hallmark Channel on the Streaming Channels menu of the 2021 ROKU Ultra?
I’m new @ streaming and just not sure which Roku do I need for a Vizio V series tv and FUBO . I currently have to cast it from my phone. The Amazon Fire tv gets Fubo fine The Vizio is barely a year old and was htI wouldn’t have to replace the tv but FUBO has tons of channels that I love
I purchased a new Roku ultra HD 4K HDR in January of this year. I’m not sure if it’s a 2020 or a 2021. I love everything about it except and this is a big EXCEPt it won’t fast forward or rewind on the channels I’ve recorded shows within the AT&T application. I have read some reviews that this is a problem with the Newest ROKU Ultra. I have tried different things to correct it but to no
avail. I also heard that AT&T needs to do an update. Please advise
Thanks for reading, Sharon! I’m afraid I don’t know too much about that — sounds like it’s a problem that’s specific to the AT&T app. Is this the AT&T TV app? I believe they updated that one recently. Channel and system updates should be happening automatically, but you can double-check on your Roku by going to Settings > System > System Update > Check Now. It might just be a matter of getting the latest and greatest version of the operating system and app. Hope that helps!
It is AT&T. It works fine for Amazon , Tablo and other channels.
What is the model number for the 2021 ultra?
Thank you for a good review. I just purchased a Roku Ultra as I had an Rbox that I can no longer get updated as the chap who had them here in FL. went under…. I use OTA antenna while here as a Snowbird for several months, when there is nothing on OTA, we watch a movie, I hope Roku will fill this need??
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