Having been making smart TV devices for over a decade, Roku pride themselves on making easy-to-use media players that deliver quality streaming at an affordable price. It seems the American company must be doing something right because it is now on its eighth generation of products and has over 30.5 million users worldwide.
The Roku Premiere is one of the brand’s newest streaming players on sale in the UK, along with the cheaper Roku Express, and the more comprehensive Roku Streaming Stick+. As the mid-range device, the Roku Premiere offers HD, 4K and HDR streaming of live TV along with access to streaming and catch-up services like BBC iPlayer, UKTV Play, Netflix, Disney+ and Amazon Prime Video – all for under £35.
On the subject of Disney+, you may be interested to hear that a new channel, Star on Disney Plus, is soon to launch on the platform, one that isn’t targeted at a family audience. Check out our lists of Disney Plus Star shows and Disney Plus Star movies to find out what you can expect.
A streaming stick or streaming player like the Roku Premiere is a fantastic option for those looking to make an old TV “smarter” or are new to streaming more generally. In addition to offering all the above apps, Roku Premiere also allows users to cast music and photos to their TV, has a simple interface and an even simpler set-up.
But, does the affordable price mean users are compromising on quality? Or, does the Roku really deliver on all fronts? Here’s why we think the Roku Premiere is one of the best value smart TV devices available right now.
Not sure which smart TV device to buy? Read our Amazon Fire TV Stick review and Amazon Fire TV Cube review. And if you’re planning to upgrade your television soon, be sure to read our comprehensive which TV to buy guide first.
- What is Roku Premiere?
- How much is Roku Premiere?
- Streaming quality
- Roku Premiere set-up
- Difference between Roku Premiere and Roku Express
- Our verdict
- Where to buy
Roku brand themselves as providing quality streaming players at a lower cost – and that is certainly what Roku Premiere delivers. The media player streams in HD, 4K and HDR, has a quick set-up, easy-to-use interface, and offers almost any app, channel or catch-up service you could possibly want. A decent streaming player that is good quality, affordable, and simple to navigate.
Price: The Roku Premiere is available for £34.99 from Amazon
- Streams in HD, 4K and HDR
- Watch live TV along with all the major streaming services like Netflix, Disney+ and Amazon Prime Video
- Use voice search and cast music and photos to your TV
- Private Listening mode streams audio to your phone and allows you to listen via your headphones
- Free extra remote with the Roku mobile app
- Good value for money
- Simple and quick set-up
- Small and inconspicuous media player
- Great choice of channels and apps
- Easy to use Roku mobile app
- Private Listening mode allows you to watch TV anytime of day without disrupting others
- Remote has to be within line of sight of media player
- Lack of power and volume buttons on remote
Having first been developed in collaboration with Netflix back in 2008, Roku now has a line of three low-cost media players available in the UK. Roku Premiere is the company’s mid-range media player that offers HD, 4K and HDR streaming of live TV along with apps such as Netflix, Disney+, Spotify, YouTube and Amazon Prime Video.
What does Roku Premiere do?
Roku Premiere allows those without a smart TV to watch streaming services. The media player has access to over 150,000 movies and TV episodes, as well as numerous music, sport and entertainment apps.
- Offers streaming in HD, 4K and HDR
- Ability to watch live TV along with streaming services like Netflix, NOW TV, Disney+ and Amazon Prime Video
- Cast music, videos and photos to your TV
- Private Listening mode (via Roku app) so that you can listen to your TV audio through your headphones
The Roku Premiere offers HD, 4K and HDR streaming for £34.99 and is available on Amazon and other retailers such as Argos and Currys PC World. It also has a cheaper counterpart Roku Express, which costs £24.99 and just has HD streaming capabilities.
For a more detailed breakdown of Roku pricing – and the media players on offer – take a look at our guide to Roku’s cost and what you get for your money.
Is Roku Premiere good value for money?
In our opinion, Roku Premiere is great value for money for those looking for a more neutral offering than that of an Amazon Fire Stick or NOW TV Stick. The low cost means that the interface is simple but user-friendly, the remote is light but feels robust, and the streaming quality is decent. A fantastic option for first-time streamers or those looking to get a little bit more out of an older (non-smart) TV.
Read our Roku vs Fire TV Stick guide to see how the Roku Premiere fares in a head-to-head battle with Amazon’s original Fire TV Stick.
Barely bigger than a fun-size bar of chocolate, the Roku Premiere is small, sleek and inconspicuous. It weighs less than 40g, too, so will easily sit on top of your TV with help from the adhesive strip provided, or can just perch below the screen.
The accompanying remote is simple, with only 11 buttons in total, including arrows for navigating, channel shortcuts, a pause/play button and a home button. The only minor irk was that there was no volume or on/off buttons.
However, we suggest taking advantage of the Roku mobile app (Android/iOS) because a remote is built-in. Not only does this give you an extra remote, but the keyboard makes typing much easier, it works outside of the direct line of sight, and there are additional features such as voice search.
- Style: The media player is a small, black, rectangular box with rounded edges and the Roku logo embossed into the top. The remote is also black but with purple accents and fits neatly into your hand.
- Robustness: Both, the media player and the remote, feel ultra light but sturdy. The remote’s rubber buttons have a good click and feel like they will last. Roku even suggests taking the streaming player on holiday with you and we have no concerns about any knocks it may encounter during that journey.
- Size: The Roku Premiere measures 3.5 x 8.4 x 1.8 cm and will easily perch on top of the TV or on any media unit.
With Roku media players often being marketed as low-cost, it is bound to bring up some concerns about the streaming quality. However, we have found the Roku Premiere has provided consistently good streaming quality in HD and 4K. For more information about Ultra HD television, don’t miss our what is a 4K TV article.
The media player responds immediately to the remote – and the Roku app remote – without any lag. For audio, Roku Premiere does support Dolby, digital stereo and DTS, though the Roku remote does not have volume buttons so this has to be adjusted via your usual TV remote.
It does not offer Dolby Vision or HDR10+, which the Amazon Fire TV Stick 4K does, instead it is the industry-standard of HDR10. However, the Roku Premiere is priced £15 cheaper than the 4K version of the Amazon Fire Stick so we feel this is reflected in the price and still makes the Roku Premiere one of the best streaming sticks on the market.
It is worth noting that the streaming quality largely depends on your TV. The media player is designed to optimise the picture quality of your TV to ensure that there is always sharp resolution and rich colour – and it does a pretty good job at it, too. Most TVs available online today do provide 4K resolution or higher but it is something worth checking before purchasing any media player or smart TV stick.
If your TV is slightly older it may not have 4K resolution and this will limit your ability to get the crisp picture quality that the Roku Premiere is capable of. If this is the case, we’d suggest saving some money and purchasing the Roku Express, which offers all the same features but with only HD streaming.
Set-up for the Roku Premiere was simple and took less than 10 minutes in total. Everything you need to get started is in the box including a HDMI cable, USB power cable (and adaptor) and two AAA batteries for the remote.
Once everything is out of the box, the whole process is relatively intuitive, with detailed diagrams as well as written instructions. Once the media player is connected, it will prompt you to create a Roku account. This is by far the most time-consuming element of the set-up and it still only took five minutes maximum.
Past this step, all you have to do is choose which channels you would like to add to your interface – though you can, of course, add to this at any time – and you’re all set.
However, we would suggest taking an extra five more minutes to download the Roku mobile app. It’s free, and doubles up as a remote. Not only does this remote work outside of the line of sight of the TV but the app keyboard is also so much easier to use than the one built into the interface.
The app also features additional extras such as Private Listening mode, which allows you to listen to your TV audio via headphones through the Roku app. This means you can watch the TV anytime without disturbing anyone else in the house. A fantastic feature if you’re a night owl or work unconventional hours.
The Roku Premiere has only two main differences with its cheaper counterpart, the Roku Express. First, is the price. At £24, the Roku Express is £10 cheaper than the Premiere media player.
The second, is its streaming capabilities. The Roku Express only provides HD streaming, while HD and 4K are available with the Premiere. 4K is higher resolution and therefore, the image quality should be significantly better. So, if you are fortunate enough to have a 4K TV, we suggest getting the Roku Premiere to make the most of it.
The only other difference worth mentioning is that the Roku Express is slightly wider than the Premiere media player. However, it is still lightweight, small and will easily blend into any TV set-up.
Beyond this, the two devices provide access to the apps, channels and catch-up services, the remotes are the exact same and they use the same easy-to-navigate interface.
When we take this a step further and compare Roku Premiere to its competitors, it is hard to see how it can be beaten on value for money. For example, while the NOW TV Smart Stick has a cheaper starting price of £24.85, a lot of the content available requires a monthly subscription and these costs can quickly add up.
On the other hand, the Amazon Fire TV Stick 4K does have a few additional features that the Roku Premiere does not. These include supporting the higher spec HDR10+, and being Alexa-compatible allowing you to complete daily tasks such as check the weather or write shopping lists from your TV.
However, to get the most out of all the Amazon Fire TV Stick’s features, you need to be an Amazon Prime Member and have a number of Alexa-compatible devices to connect to. Again, this all has an additional cost and can get pretty expensive fast.
The Roku Premiere is one of the most competitively priced streaming devices on the market. The range of apps, channels and catch-up services is near unbeatable, and well thought out features such as the Private Listening mode, make the Roku Premiere feel more expensive than it is.
This, in addition to a good HD and 4K streaming quality, easy-to-use interface and a well-designed app, means that the Roku Premiere is brilliant value for money. We would particularly recommend this media player for first-time streamers or those looking to upgrade an older, or non-smart, TV without spending a lot.
Streaming quality: 4/5
Value for money: 5/5
Ease of set-up: 5/5
Overall rating: 4.5/5
The Roku Premiere is available from a number of retailers.
Thinking of upgrading your TV? Be sure to check out our pick of the best smart TV deals this month.