What Is Roku Express and How Does It Work?

What Is Roku Express and How Does It Work?
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The Roku Express is a streaming device manufactured by electronics brand Roku Inc. It's a solution for casting internet media to television sets or audio sets. Roku Inc. first released a predecessor of the Roku Express in 2016 as a device to cater to the low-end of the streaming market. The company has continued to update the Roku Express, adding new processors and other enhancements to the device. Roku Inc. has seen substantial success with the Roku Express, with users rapidly adopting this affordable streaming device.

Roku Express Features

What you will notice first about the Roku Express is its size. It's a tiny device. Nonetheless, it packs plenty of power and features. The Roku Express can stream content from a wide collection of major content providers, including:

  • NetFlix
  • BBC
  • Amazon Video
  • Hulu

In addition to third-party content providers, Roku has its own channel, the Roku Channel. The best part about using this channel is that the content is free.

You connect the Roku Express to your TV using a standard HDMI cable. For power, you can plug it into the TV using a USB port or a supplied power cable. For control, it comes with an infrared remote, as well as a mobile app that works for Android or iOS mobile phones. 

Ideal Roku Users

The Roku Express will work best for you if you want a low-cost way to make the TV in your house smart. The brand is targeted at tech-savvy consumers who adopt technology fast. One scenario for using the Roku Express, for example, would be to ditch your cable subscription. The combination of free streaming services and paid for options like Netflix or Hulu could be enough to eliminate the need for a cable. This is especially true for users who do not follow cable shows that closely but only catch a show now and again.

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How it Compares to Alternatives

While the Roku Express is a decent device on its own, compared to the pricing of other streaming devices is where it really stands out. The Roku Express is available for around $29 from Roku and retailers like Amazon.

One of the devices that offer an alternative to the Roku Express is the Amazon Fire TV Stick. Like the Roku Express, Amazon's Fire TV Stick is a device that streams internet media to a compatible HDTV set. The Fire TV Stick is available for $39.99. Amazon has done well to price this device within the ballpark of the Roku Express, but if it is price you are concerned about, the Roku Express still wins. While the Fire TV Stick boasts integration with Alexa voice control, Roku is one of the fast movers that have now deployed Alexa skills for their devices.

The Apple TV 4K is the other big player in the space. It offers high-end 4K HDR support, which is not available in the Roku Express. However, compared to the Apple TV 4K's $179 price tag, the Roku Express is much more of a bargain.

Using the Roku Express

To use the Roku Express, first connect the device to your TV Using the supplied HDMI cable. You will also need to connect the Roku Express to your home WiFi network. If this is the first time you are using Roku services, sign up for a Roku account and login to access content. For controlling your device from a mobile app, download the mobile app to your smartphone. You can browse through channels and Roku content providers from your connected TV or Roku mobile app.

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To Consider Before Your Purchase

The cost to get started is the $29.99 purchase price for the Roku Express. There are no monthly fees for the device, however, content providers charge their own fees. Free channels like Youtube and Roku's own channel have no charges to access.

Our Notes

Sports Channels: You can access sports from Roku-enabled apps like ESPN, CBS Sports, and NBC Sports.
Free Movies: Channels like Crackle, Tubi TV, and PBS offer free movies on the Roku.</p>
Games: Access Angry Birds and other popular games from your Roku Express and play on your large screen.

What Do They Say on Other Sites

"Fantastic product so far! After the first week, we bought a second one for a family member. First thing: Before you buy, understand what content is free and what is not. Second, in case it's not obvious, the Roku operates over your wifi and internet connection. You have to have an internet connection that is fast enough to stream video". (Amazon Customer on Amazon)

"Unable to connect to wifi even though all other devices in home, including an older model Roku connect well. Plus Roku does not provide live support for theis item." (Stephen E Clark on Amazon)

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