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Roku Express Review

Posted by Arch on November 7, 2018

Judging solely by the name, the Roku Express seems like a powerful new solution in streaming. That said, the name doesn’t really reflect the performance of the device. It’s good and stable, but not as powerful as others on the market.

Still, it offers plenty of performance features, accessories, and other perks which may make it a no-brainer choice for those binging on TV shows on a budget. Let’s take a closer look at its specs and performance so that you can tell if it’s worth getting your hands on one.

Design

The Roku Express looks like a streaming stick size-wise even though its performance is quite impressive for the money. The tiny device is 0.7×3.4×1.4 inches in size. That’s just a tad larger than Roku’s streaming stick and at the same time, smaller than its remote.

Accessories

Because of its similarities with the Roku Streaming Stick, the Roku Express also comes with a micro-USB port. Luckily, a micro-USB to USB cable is included in the package so you can connect the Express even to older generation smart TVs.

The HDMI cable is only a half meter long. The package also contains an IR remote and a double-sided adhesive tape. You can use the tape to attach the device to your TV or anywhere else in the vicinity without worrying about it falling off.

The lightweight remote is as basic as they come. It has few buttons, a purple Roku tag, and a matte black finish. There are four preset buttons for Hulu, Netflix, Sling TV, and Google Play Movies. This means that once you unpack everything, it shouldn’t take more than 5 to 10 minutes until you’re watching your favorite show.

It’s surprising that you get so many extra items at a very low cost. But, nothing in the package is shoved there without reason.

Overview

Even the adhesive tape has its purpose. Some may choose to fault Roku for creating a device that needs line of sight, but at this price point that would be a mistake. You can make use of the adhesive tape to position the device in front of the TV or somewhere on the shelf with a clear path to the remote.

Let’s talk loading times. This is another area in which the affordable pricing comes with a drawback. The Roku Express has an 802.11b/g/n antenna instead of the 802.11ac antenna which is pretty much the industry standard at this point. This is likely to limit its bandwidth.

As is evidenced by the slow loading times compared to most of the competition. The processor picks up some of the slack though, as you could call it medium-range. However, it’s the Roku platform that picks up most of the slack. It is a lightweight platform with a simple design, and not a lot of content that needs loading upfront.

By all accounts, the Roku Express may not be faster than the Roku Streaming Stick, but it’s pretty much just as small, cheaper, and handles streaming in 1080p like a little champ. If you’re not adamant about streaming 4K videos then the Roku Express offers an affordable way to enjoy popular streaming services on your big screen TV.

What It Does Best

The Roku Express excels at probably just one thing – finding cheap online content. Because the Express comes with the full version of Roku’s OS, you are able to access all apps that work with previous Roku devices, search features, and of course the Roku feed.

While Amazon and Apple have just started implementing this feature into their devices, they’re not nearly as keen at providing quick and easy access to cheap or free content. Therefore, if you’re eyeing a streaming device and you’re not a big spender, the Roku Express just may be your ticket to ride.

Roku Express – Is it For You?

Here’s a quick recap of what the device has to offer.

Pros

  1. Very affordable

  2. Remote included

  3. Easy to use

  4. Small build

  5. Portal for all popular streaming services

  6. All Roku search features

  7. Compatibility with Sling TV and PlayStation VUE

 

Cons

  1. Inconsistent loading times

  2. Needs line of sight

  3. Average Wi-Fi antenna

 

A Final Thought

While clearly not the most powerful streaming box on the market, it is one of the smallest and perhaps the cheapest. Performance-wise, the Roku Express handles itself quite ok save for some buffering at the beginning of streams. The low bandwidth deserves most of the blame here.

However, the decent processor and the excellent platform that Roku designed allow the Express to balance itself nicely. If you’re looking for quality, the Roku Express can deliver. But not if you’re looking for speed, high performance, and 4K streaming.

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