Roku 4: We Give You Everything You Need to Know About It

roku 4 streaming media player

The Roku 4 is one of the many video streaming devices available out there. What are its features and how does it compare with other similar devices?

Before video streaming devices such as the Roku 4 became available, watching a YouTube video on your TV means going through the trouble of laying down cables from your computer. After watching, you would then need to disconnect the wires and connect it back to your monitor.

These days, you can forget all of that and plug the Roku 4 into your television and watch your favorite videos on a much bigger screen. It also allows you to discover new shows, music, and movies, as well as search for your preferred content on your TV.

How the Roku 4 Works

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Roku 4 is a media streamer, a device that connects your home theater system or non-smart television to the Internet.

Roku 4 allows you to watch videos or play music from various online streaming services on a bigger screen. With the device, everything is just plug-and-play. You plug the Roku 4 into your TV using an HDMI port and then connect to the Internet. With a free Roku account, you can start streaming in no time.

Roku 4 lets you access millions of videos, music, movies, TV series, and podcasts from thousands of service providers. Watch YouTube videos, listen to music, or binge-watch. You can even watch the latest movies on demand via Google Play Movies and TV. You can listen to music, as well.

Features of the Roku 4

What can you expect when you buy the Roku 4?

Design

The Roku 4 looks like an old Sony Discman but with flatter matte black top and rounded edges. The bottom part of the device is rubberized, so it does not easily slide off. Roku 4 measures 6.5 inches on all sides and 0.8 inches high. The Roku 4 does not need too much space, and you can stack other things on top of it.

Access to more than 4,000 channels

Roku devices allow you to access at least 4,000 channels. Meaning, it gives you access to tons of free content, music, catch-up TV, and the latest box office movies.

4K Ultra HD quality

Ultra HD delivers up to four times the resolution and video quality of full HD. If you have an Ultra HD TV, Roku 4 will give you an outstanding picture and image quality. Moreover, if you are trying to access content in either 720p or 1080p, the device uses an advanced processing technology that improves the quality of videos you watch.

In short, it will automatically adapt and give you the best video quality that your TV can accommodate.

Screen mirroring and screencasting

Roku 4 supports both casting and screen mirroring. With the Roku 4, you can view on your TV screen the content that you see on your phone or tablet. For instance, you can find multimedia content on your smartphone, but watch it on your TV by screencasting it.

However, you can only cast content from mobile apps that support Roku 4. You would also need to install these apps on both your phone and your Roku 4 device. If you are watching a video on a mobile device, you can "direct" that video to your Roku 4. You can then continue watching it on your TV screen, rather than having to hold your device.

Meanwhile, screen-mirroring is when you replicate the screen of your Android tablet or desktop computer onto your TV screen. Unlike casting, you can see the entire screen, and not just the video or movie.

Mirroring is good if you want to show content that you can not cast. You might want to duplicate your computer screen onto a TV screen to allow more people to watch a slideshow presentation or to watch you demonstrate how to use Photoshop.

Fast and easy search

In the past, you would need to deal with different mobile apps to find your content. If you do not see a TV series on Netflix, you would need to go to another streaming service app and search there. With Roku 4, you can say goodbye to that inconvenience!

Roku 4 allows you to search for the content you want to see easily. When you search for something, Roku Search will look for it across thousands of different sources.

It will then present you with a list of channels where you can find the content you want. It would also tell you where you can watch it for free. Further, it allows you to rank the results by price, letting you cuddle up to Something's Got to Give without having to pay a bundle for it.

You also have several ways to search: Use the Roku Search page on your TV, or the included remote to type in your query. You can also use the Roku companion app on an iOS or Android device.

Roku Enhanced Remote with Voice

Another way to search for content is by using the Roku Enhanced Remote with Voice. Rather than fiddle around the buttons to type in your query, you can search by asking the remote control. Say, "Find movies starring Audrey Hepburn," and Roku Search will give you a list of Hepburn classics and where you can watch these for free.

The Roku Enhanced Remote with Voice also comes with a free headphone. Plug this into the headphone jack located on the top left part of the remote and watch a late night movie without waking everyone in the house.

Lost remote finder

The problem with remote controls is that they often get misplaced. Sometimes, you get lucky and immediately find them on the sofa, behind the throw pillows. Sometimes, however, you end up turning everything in the living room upside-down without seeing it!

Not a problem with Roku 4! If you cannot find the remote anywhere, you only have to press a button on top of the Roku 4 box, and your remote will sound an alert for you to find it.

Not just for online video and music content

Roku 4 has every port every audiophile, avid video watcher, or cinephile could ever want. On top of the HDMI and Ethernet ports, the Roku 4 also has a USB port that you can use to connect hard drives and USB flash drives, allowing you to access multimedia content stored in them.

Additionally, there is a MicroSD slot that you can use to expand the Roku's memory. It also has an optical digital audio port, which gives you an easy way to get 5.1 channel surround.

Warranty

Roku 4 comes with a one-year warranty. Within that time, they will replace your Roku if it breaks down or malfunctions. It also comes with a 30-day guarantee: get your money back if you are not satisfied with the Roku 4 for any reason.

Specifications and Comparison with Older Roku Devices

If you already have an older Roku device, you might be wondering if it is worth buying the Roku 4. Here's how the Roku 4 compares with earlier Roku devices:

Feature

Roku Streaming Stick

Roku 1

Roku 2

Roku 3

Roku 4

HDMI Port

Yes

Yes, or composite cables

Yes

Yes

Yes, HDCP 2.2 HDMI

Maximum video resolution

1080p

1080p

1080p

1080p

4K Ultra HD

Quad-core processor

Yes

No

No

No

Yes

Use mobile devices to control, add or browse channels

Yes

Yes

Yes

Yes

Yes

Supports casting from mobile devices

Yes

Yes

Yes

Yes

Yes

Supports screen mirroring

Yes

No

Yes

Yes

Yes

Ethernet, USB and Micro SD card slot

No

No

Yes

Yes

Yes

Remote with headphone jack and voice search

No

No

No

Yes

Yes

Optical digital audio port

No

No

No

No

Yes

Remote finder button

No

No

No

No

Yes

As you can see, Roku 4 has more features than what the earlier models offer. These include support for 4K videos, a quad-core processor, optical digital audio port, and better remote control. Roku 4 was also the first Roku device to have a remote finder feature.

Price of the Roku 4

The Roku 4 is no longer available on the Roku.com Web site, but you can still buy it from other retailers. It currently costs between $55 and $60 on Amazon and less than $90 on WalMart.com. When it first came out, however, Roku 4 had a price tag of around $130. 

It should be clear that users do not have to worry about monthly subscriptions to use Roku 4. However, some channels might require you to pay a recurring fee so that you can access their content.

Pros and Cons of the Roku 4

Apart from the main features of the Roku 4, the company spent a lot of time making its platform one of the best video streaming devices on the market today. The platform has the most apps, but it retains a straightforward and intuitive interface. Plus, with a quad-core processor, the Roku 4 responds to your inputs quickly. 

The most significant advantage of using the Roku 4 that the company does not sell proprietary content. There is no intrusive marketing that highlights their shows, videos, or channels over others. Unlike other video streaming devices, Roku does not prioritize one source over another. Every channel is on equal footing. 

Roku 4's voice function is limited to search. It does not match the level of voice interactions that you see on Amazon Fire TV or Apple TV. Roku 4 has a one-track mind, so if you say something to the remote, it will always assume that you are searching for some content. 

The bigger bummer, however, is that the Roku 4 does not offer any significant improvements over older Roku devices. For those people who are deciding whether to upgrade from a Roku 2 or another video streaming device, the Roku 4 might pale in comparison. Simply put, the slightly better quality and the few extra features offered by the Roku 4 does not justify its significantly higher price.

Pros

  • Straightforward and intuitive interface
  • Every channel is on equal footing
  • It has the most apps
  • Features a quad-core processor
  • Responds to your inputs quickly

Cons

  • Roku 4's voice function is limited to search
  • It does not match the level of voice interactions that you see on Amazon Fire TV or Apple TV

How Does Roku 4 Compare with Other Streaming Devices?

The Roku 4 is not perfect, by any means. The good news is that there are some alternatives that you can consider.

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Price range

$21 to $30

Maximum supported resolution

1080p

Channels available

100

Customer rating on Amazon

Chromecast takes you back to the basics, allowing you to stream content to your dumb TV without having to run cables. It features a wireless antenna that allows it to stream movies with less buffering and lag.


Using Chromecast is one of the cheaper ways to access Netflix, Spotify, and other streaming services. The Google Home app is great too, as it is both easy to use and very intuitive.


However, it does not mirror Apple screens, nor does it have a native way to stream Amazon-branded content. Moreover, it does not have a remote.

Pros

  • ​Easily view your device's screen on your TV

Cons

  • None so far
Apple TV 4K HD 32GB Streaming Media Player HDMI with Dolby Digital and...
  • 4K High Dynamic Range (Dolby Vision and HDR10) for stunning picture quality
  • Dolby Digital Plus 7.1 surround sound
  • A10X Fusion chip for ultra-fast graphics and performance

Price range

$160 to $200

Maximum supported resolution

4K Ultra HD

Channels available

Not stated

Customer rating on Amazon

Experts and consumers regard the Apple TV 4K as the best streaming device that can handle 4K resolution right now. It is compatible with HDR and Dolby Vision TVs, something that Roku cannot handle.


It includes excellent voice interaction functionalities via Siri, and it has a well designed and feature-packed remote control. However, these great features come with a heftier price tag.

Pros

  • Stunning picture quality Dolby Digital Plus 7.1 surround sound

Cons

  • Some user say, setup did not recognize being connected thru the Ethernet cable to the Internet
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  • Easy to use remote, intuitive navigation
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Price range

$25 to $35

Maximum supported resolution

4K Ultra HD

Channels available

Not stated

Customer rating on Amazon

Some of the other streaming devices that you can also consider. The Roku Streaming Stick Plus costs as low as $50  to  $70. This one is notable because of its lightning-fast performance and simple interface.


It supports 4K UHD resolutions, as well. Another alternative from Roku is the Roku Express, which joins this list because of its  affordable  $25  to $35  price range, without sacrificing performance. 


You also have the  Amazon Fire TV, which costs  $60 to $70 and works with your current Alexa speaker for better voice control and voice interactions than what you get from Roku.

Pros

  • ​Easy-to-use remote

Cons

  • Some review say, unable to connect to wifi even though all other devices in home

Our Verdict

There is no doubt that the Roku 4 is an excellent video streaming device that delivers 4K Ultra high-definition resolutions. Compared to the Apple TV 4K, the Roku 4’s price is a steal, as well! 

However, for some people, it might not be a good idea to buy the Roku 4. For instance, people who already own a Roku device might not find it prudent to upgrade to the Roku 4. As it is, the Roku 4 is not the best device out there, nor is it the cheapest.

If you want a streamer that will do the job but does not cost as much as the Roku 4’s $90 price tag, then check out either Amazon Fire TV Stick or Google Chromecast. 

For those who are new to video streaming devices, the Roku 4 does provide the right balance of price and features. 

For its price, the Roku 4 offers 4K videos and an easy and quick way to search for the movie you would like to watch, while also giving you fast and seamless streaming. 

The remote finder and the remote control itself with its voice search and headphone jack are nice touches, too.

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