When it comes to streaming devices, the options can seem endless, and what each one does (or doesn't do) can be a bit confusing. Google’s Chromecast and Amazon’s Fire TV Stick do similar things, but in very different ways - and both of them have limits to what they can do. With the Fire TV Stick, you have to log in through your Amazon account and it’s heavily focussed on Amazon’s own content, whereas the Chromecast is a bit less restrictive but will only work through your smartphone, tablet, or computer.
Take a look at our Fire TV Stick vs Chromecast article for more on these devices.
In short, Roku combines the best of the Firestick and the Chromecast to offer something that doesn’t restrict you to any particular ecosystem. You can still cast to it, and it also comes with a remote control.
Strictly speaking, the Roku Express, while very small, isn’t a streaming stick because it doesn’t plug directly into the back of your TV. It also comes with an IR remote which needs to be pointed directly at the Roku player.
The Roku 4K Smart Stick, on the other hand, does plug directly into your TV and it doesn’t matter where you point the remote - it’ll still work.
They essentially both do the same thing but the 4K version is faster, more powerful, and able to stream content in Ultra HD - as long as your internet connection is fast enough.
You can check how fast your internet needs to be for 4K here.
The great thing about Roku is you’re not stuck in a particular ecosystem like Amazon. You can still get the Prime Video app if you’re an Amazon Prime member, but you can also get Google’s Play Movies & TV app, Netflix, Now TV, YouTube and loads more.
You can see the full list of apps available from Roku here.
You can ‘cast’ to the Roku too if you’re watching a video on YouTube, or Netflix and you also have the app installed on your Roku player, just tap the ‘Cast’ button to watch it on your TV.
Installing the AllConnect app to your Roku player and Smartphone, lets you send content from your phone or tablet to your TV using your Wi-Fi network - great for sharing family photos & movies.
As well as watching TV and Movies, there are music apps like Deezer and Vevo, Educational apps like TED, and loads of free games to download.
Hopefully, this has helped you understand what the Roku Stick is, and what you can do with it. If you need help with anything else, you can contact one of our Team Knowhow experts here.