Roku Premiere / Premiere + review

When it comes to streaming players, Roku is a household name. From insanely inexpensive budget gamers like the Roku Express to the super-powered Roku Ultra, there’s something for everyone.

In the middle of the pack are the Roku Premiere and Roku Premiere +, two players released in 2018 that offer powerful 4K playback at a great price. (This is especially true during shopping vacations like Black Friday and Cyber ​​Monday, which often see this streaming device drop to its lowest prices of the year.)

They strike a happy medium between the top and the bottom of Roku’s lineup, and while they do have a few issues that keep them from becoming the best streaming players on the planet, they’re a heck of a bang for the buck. if you do not mind. .

Find out everything you need to know about the two streaming sticks below.

Pricing and availability

The biggest strength of Roku Premiere and Premiere +, and the real draw for most people, is their price. The cheaper Roku Premiere is available in the US and UK for $ 39.99 / £ 39.99 RRP, although Roku has a lot of sales and often drops the price to just $ 24.99 / 29.99 £.

The Roku Premiere +, on the other hand, will only set you back $ 10 more and cost just $ 49.99 RRP – but, due to the retailer’s exclusivity, you’ll have to go to a Walmart or go to Walmart.com. to buy one. (You won’t find this one in the UK.)

Image Credit: Gadgetmasti

Image Credit: Gadgetmasti

Design

Whichever streaming player you choose, you won’t find yourself hoisting a massive set-top box to your media center – the Roku Premiere is about the size of a streaming stick or a pack of gum. oversized, depending on the shape you have. re more familiar with.

Design-wise, it’s a small, crescent-shaped player with rounded edges and measures a few inches wide, an inch and a half high, and an inch and a half deep.

That said, while it shares the same exterior as the Roku Express, the Premiere is still a more powerful player. We’ll cover exactly what it can do in a second, but you can expect 4K HDR support, the same as the Roku Ultra does.

Image Credit: Gadgetmasti

Image Credit: Gadgetmasti

The differences between the Roku Premiere and the Roku Premiere + are relatively minor in the grand scheme of things: they have the same form factor, processor, and performance, but one has an infrared remote while the other uses Bluetooth.

To this end, the Roku Premiere + does not need a direct line of sight from the remote to the player, and offers both power and volume buttons that can control your TV via HDMI-CEC and comes bundled with a built-in microphone. The Roku Premiere, on the other hand, uses a standard infrared remote control with no voice support… which is a bit of a letdown.

In terms of connections on the back of the player, there’s not much to say – the Roku Premiere only has ports for power and HDMI.

You don’t have an HDMI cable in the house? No problem. Roku does provide one in the box, but it’s unfortunately not very long. If your entertainment stand is tall, or you don’t want to keep the player right next to the TV, you’ll need something a little longer.

Image Credit: Roku

Image Credit: Roku

Characteristics

But whatever device you decide to use with, you get Roku’s peerless operating system without equal. Whether you’re an Amazon Video watcher, Hulu enthusiast, or prefer to stick with the half-dozen free, ad-focused video services, Roku has you covered, and it only gets better.

On the remote itself, you’ll find quick buttons for Netflix, Hulu, Sling TV, and DirecTV Now, making it easy to switch between them without navigating the home menu – which, admittedly. , takes a little longer than we would like due to a few extra milliseconds due to pop-in load times.

Now you’re probably buying Roku Premiere because you’re already a Netflix / Hulu / Amazon Prime Video member and currently have a library of content to stream from, but if not, Roku now has something called Featured Free which offers dozens of shows. and movies here, all of which can be streamed without paying a dime.

Perhaps just as good as Roku’s traditional operating system is the fact that Premiere and Premiere + come with Chromecast Built-in, which lets you stream content from your phone, tablet, or PC to the player.

This is a really handy feature if you have friends and they all want to take turns sharing YouTube clips, or if you’ve found something on your phone on a streaming service that you want to see on the big screen. All things considered, Chromecast Built-in is definitely a plus.

If we were to nitpick, one thing that’s disappointing about Roku’s latest models is that they don’t support Dolby Vision. This next-gen format is something Apple supports on the Apple TV 4K, Microsoft supports on the Xbox one s and Xbox one x, and a myriad of TV manufacturers support it through their built-in operating systems. What is missing here seems like a big misstep.

A promotional photo for the new Netflix TV series Lost in Space

Lost in Space, available in HDR, looks great (Image credit: Netflix) (Image credit: Netflix)

Performance

As the Roku Streaming Stick +, the Roku Premiere’s strong point is providing basic 4K and HDR performance at a reasonable price. You would find it most useful if you bought an ultra-cheap 4K TV during Black Friday or Cyber ​​Monday, only to realize that it doesn’t have the best on-board operating system.

Now, if the whole “4K HDR on a budget” promise sounds familiar to you, it’s because Roku introduced the Roku Streaming Stick + a year ago that delivered just that.

The difference between them is that the Roku Streaming Stick + offers four times the range thanks to its antenna and supports 802.11ac wireless compared to the 802.11b / g / n which is supported on Premiere.

In practice, we didn’t have much of a problem streaming 4K videos to a room in a room far away from our router, but if you have a large house with the living room far away from your modem and router setup , it’s worth considering Stick + streaming instead.

In terms of performance, playback was consistent over our connection with measured speeds of 30 Mbps in the room where the player was located, and never stumbled even when streaming 4K content. The quality of this content will obviously depend on your TV, but we think the player has done a good job of delivering the information smoothly.

Final verdict

Small criticisms aside, the Roku Premiere is an impressive (and insanely inexpensive) kit. 4K HDR streaming for $ 40 / £ 40 opens the door to discounted cable cutters in a way that has never happened before. To get to this price point, it seems Roku cut a few corners – the IR remote in the base Premiere, for one, and the lack of Dolby Vision for the other.

For this reason, we would recommend the Roku Premiere + over the regular Roku Premiere, but its Walmart exclusivity might make this a problem for some people. Worse yet, it can also get slightly convoluted for consumers when you toss the Roku Streaming Stick + into the mix – a nearly identical device apart from the Wi-Fi antenna.

That being said, if you know exactly what you’re looking for in a streaming player – affordable 4K HDR – the Roku Premiere and Premiere + are some of the best around.

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