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With video streaming services such as Netflix, Amazon Prime, and Hulu exploding in popularity the past few years, the competition for streaming media players has been heating up.

It is now estimated that almost half of American households subscribe to one form of video streaming or another. The main players in the space, Amazon Fire TV, and Apple TV, have held much of the current market share.

However, Roku’s latest generation the Roku 4 is being labeled by many as the top choice out today. This review will highlight both the strengths as well as the weaknesses of the new Roku, so you can make your own decision.

Look/Design

The Design of the Roku 4 is similar to the Roku 3 although with a skinnier body. It almost appears like they just flattened out the Roku 3. The color is the same with the sleek glossy black and a large imprinted number 4 on the top.

Like the previous versions, the Roku 4 has all its connections placed at the back of the box with the exception of the USB, which is placed on the side of the device. If you are an avid gamer or need a lot of app storage you can increase it using a MicroSD card.

Set Up

Setting it up is a two part process but fairly simple. You start by connecting to your network either with an Ethernet cable or the boxes own Wi-Fi. Once you are connected you take a code you get from Roku.com and complete the registration. From there the Roku does the rest. It will automatically detect and choose what the top picture quality for your TV will be. However it is also possible to choose manually what resolution you prefer.

Performance

Now comes the only thing that really matters, how does it actually perform. The Roku 4 is at least as fast as it is top tier competitors like Amazon Fire, with great response time and almost no lag. However, it is hard to tell if its speed had increased since the Roku 3. This being said, the Roku 3 was as fast as anything on the market today, so it is hard to complain too much about that.

The operating system for the Roku 4 has a feel and familiarity of the past models, yet looks slightly improved. The interface is extremely user friendly and intuitive, and content is arranged in a very clear-cut way.

The universal search on the Roku 4 has been slightly improved, and its voice command has been upgraded to work across twenty channels. Unfortunately Roku still hasn’t been able to match the voice technology of Apple or Amazon, as it is still more limited than both of its competitors.

The largest change in the new Roku may be its upgrade to My Feed. In the previous versions only movies would work with this feature, however, it now allows you to follow TV shows or even individual directors or actors to see when their new content becomes available. The 4 also improved the IOS as well as Android apps and allows you to control more features using them.

4K Renderening

The Roku 4 simply has the best 4k streaming out right now. Apple TV does not even support 4k streaming and Amazon Fire has a HDMI 1.4 compared to the Roku’s 2.0. What does this mean? Well the Roku 4 will be able to support videos that are 60 frames a second when they are made available and the fire will not. Of course if you already have a smart TV that is 4k enabled this may not be of any benefit to u.

Verdict

In the end it comes down to your price point. The Roku 4 is priced at $130, which is right in the middle between the Apple TV ($150) and the Amazon Fire ($100). Also you can pick up a Roku 3 for $100 and in my opinion this is your best bet.

The extra $30 dollars just aren’t worth it for the minimal upgrades that we see. If money isn’t an issue for you, by all means grab the Roku 4, as it is a high quality system that won’t disappoint.

 

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Journalism major slash tech nerd. Future world traveler. I eat, sleep, and write mobile.