Roku revamped its whole lineup recently, replacing its old numbered models with new branded ones. Among the new models is the Wi-Fi-only Roku Express, which replaces the old Roku 1 and targets “budget-conscious” consumers. But wait, doesn’t that sound at a lot like the Roku Streaming Stick? Here’s our guide to the Roku Express vs. Roku Streaming Stick showdown.
Roku Express vs. Roku Streaming Stick
The Roku Express and Roku Streaming Stick are both relatively low-cost streaming solutions. Both rely on Wi-Fi to stream content, and both use Roku’s popular operating system. So just what is the difference between the two? Let’s take a look at how the devices differ in a few major categories. Below, we’ll look at the hardware in the device, the form factors, the remotes (which are different, believe it or not), and, of course, the prices.
Under the hood, the Roku Streaming Stick is the more powerful of these two devices. The Roku Streaming Stick has a quad-core processor, which the Roku Express lacks, and that’s the main hardware difference between the two. Both devices have 802.11 (b/g/n) wireless.
Neither device supports 4K video – you’ll have to step up to the Premiere, Premiere+, or Ultra for that. Both the Roku Streaming Stick and the Roku Express top out at 1080p.
In practice, we haven’t found much of a difference between the two in terms of streaming performance. The Roku Streaming Stick, however, is the more powerful device.
Both of these devices are very, very small. The Roku Express is probably a bit better looking, though that’s a matter of taste – and it’s important to note that the Roku Streaming Stick’s design makes it nearly certain that you won’t be able to see it when you’re facing your TV. The Roku Streaming Stick plugs directly into an HDMI port, so you’ll have to look at the back of your TV to even see the thing.
We’ll talk more about this in a minute, but because of the Roku Express’ remote, the device needs to be visible from wherever you’re sitting and watching. The Express can sit on your entertainment center or can be stuck to the side or top of your TV with the included double-stick adhesive strip. It’s not an eyesore by any means, but it’s obviously more noticeable than the hidden Roku Streaming Stick.
The last thing to note here is that the Roku Streaming Stick is a little more portable. Because it plugs directly into the HDMI port, it has one less cord to worry about.
One difference between the Roku Express and Roku Streaming Stick? The remote control. While both remotes look pretty much the same, the Roku Streaming Stick’s remote is a “point anywhere” remote – in other words, it doesn’t have to be aimed at the device to control it. That’s a good thing, since the Roku Streaming Stick is designed to hide behind your TV.
With the Roku Express, though, you’ll have to aim at the device. That sounds like a small thing, but as we noted in our review, it’s a little annoying when you’re used to the point-anywhere remote.
Other than this, both remotes are pretty much the same. They both have headphone jacks for private listening, and they both have shortcut buttons for popular streaming services.
We liked both of these products when we reviewed them. Check out our review of the Roku Streaming Stick here, and our review of the Roku Express here.
Should you get a Roku Streaming Stick or a Roku Express?
If cost is your main concern, get the Roku Express. The differences in performance are pretty minimal, and the Express is 40% cheaper. If you’re concerned at all about aesthetics or portability, the Roku Streaming Stick may be the better choice because of its form factor.
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