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Roku Express 4K review

We put Roku's newest 4K streaming player to the test.

Our rating 
4.5 out of 5 star rating 4.5
£39.99
Roku-Express-4K-review

Our review

The latest streaming device from Roku offers 4K streaming at an extremely affordable price.
Pros: Great value for money
Good 4K streaming quality
Simple set-up
Small, inconspicuous player 
Cons: Cannot be hidden behind TV
No volume buttons on remote

Roku’s streaming devices may not be as well-known as the likes of Amazon’s Fire TV Sticks or Google Chromecast, but they are no longer an underdog.

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In recent years, Roku has made a name for itself by making simple, easy-to-use streaming sticks at an affordable price.

Roku Express 4K is the brand’s latest addition to their streaming players, joining the likes of the entry-level Roku Express and premium Roku Streambar.

At £39.99, the Roku Express 4K seems to offer brilliant value, so we put it to the test. We assessed the streaming device’s design, set-up and streaming quality against its price point to decide whether it’s worth spending cash on.

Find our Roku Express 4K review below and why we think it is the best value streaming device you can buy.

To find out more about other Roku devices, read our Roku Streambar review and Roku Express review. Or see how they compare in our best streaming stick round-up and Roku vs Fire TV Stick explainer.

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Roku Express 4K review: summary

Roku Express 4K

The Roku Express 4K is the brand’s latest release and offers 4K streaming, voice control and access to streaming services like Netflix, NOW, BT Sport and Prime Video for £39.99. This is an upgraded version of their entry-level Roku Express with an upgrade from HD streaming to 4K.

Price: The Roku Express 4K costs £39.99 and is available at Very, Amazon and Argos.

Key features:

  • 4K streaming
  • Free digital remote via mobile Roku app
  • Use voice search to find your favourite shows quickly
    Private Listening mode streams audio to your phone and allows you to listen via your headphones
  • Access to streaming services such as BT Sport, Netflix, Prime Video, NOW and BBC iPlayer

Pros:

  • Great value for money
  • Good 4K streaming quality
  • Small, inconspicuous player

Cons:

  • Cannot be hidden behind TV
  • No volume buttons on remote

What is Roku Express 4K?

The Roku Express 4K is the brand’s newly released streaming player. The device can be used to upgrade an old or ‘non-smart’ TV and give users access to streaming services such as Amazon Prime Video, Netflix, NOW and BT Sport.

What does Roku Express 4K do?

Beyond the essential feature of accessing streaming services and apps such as Disney+, NOW, Spotify and YouTube, the streaming player also offers voice control and a private listening mode for when you don’t want to disturb others. The only obvious omission is the lack of volume controls on the remote, which is a slight annoyance but hardly a deal-breaker.

  • 4K streaming
  • Free digital remote via mobile Roku app
  • Use voice search to find your favourite shows quickly
    Private Listening mode streams audio to your phone and allows you to listen via your headphones
  • Access to streaming services such as BT Sport, Netflix, Prime Video, NOW and BBC iPlayer

How much is Roku Express 4K?

The Roku Express 4K costs £39.99 and is available at Very, Amazon and Argos.

Is Roku Express 4K good value for money?

The Roku Express 4K offers some of the best value of any streaming devices on the market. Compared to other 4K streaming players, the Roku Express 4K is one of the cheapest. Amazon currently has two 4K streaming devices; the Amazon Fire TV Stick 4K and the Amazon Fire TV Cube. The Fire TV Stick is the cheaper of the two at £49.99, and the more powerful Fire TV Cube costs a not-unsubstantial £109.99. When looking at the other big competitor, Google, its 4K device – Chromecast with Google TV –  costs £59.99.

Roku Express 4K design

Roku Express 4K review

The design of the new Roku Express 4K is incredibly similar to their entry-level device, the Roku Express.

  • Style: The streaming player is a small, black box that will easily blend into any TV set-up.
  • Robustness: While both the remote and streaming player are lightweight, they both feel sturdy. These could easily be unplugged and taken on travels.
  • Size: The Roku Express 4K can be described as wallet-size and can be slotted under the TV or stuck onto the top of the TV with the adhesive strip provided.

Roku Express 4K streaming quality

The Roku Express 4K is the brand’s cheapest 4K device. Much like its predecessor Roku Premiere, the picture quality is great, with no lag or buffer between the homepage and shows. The picture is sharp and well-balanced across the various streaming services and apps on offer.

However, if you intend to use the device to upgrade an old TV, we would recommend checking its picture quality before investing in a streaming stick. If the TV does not have 4K capabilities, you will not get the most out of the Roku Express 4K. In this case, we would recommend saving £10 and buying the cheaper Roku Express. It offers brilliant HD streaming, and the design and set-up are almost identical.

Roku Express 4K set-up: how easy is it to use?

Roku Express 4K remote

Everything about the Roku Express 4K is simple and user-friendly. This is the same when it comes to the setup. The box includes everything you would need to get started, including AAA batteries, an HDMI cable and a power adaptor.

Once the streaming player is plugged in, you are prompted to set up the Wi-Fi and language settings through a series of instructions. The streaming player will also assess your HDMI connection to ensure your TV can stream at the highest quality possible, in this case, 4K.

The final stage is to download the Roku mobile app. Not only does this allow you to type using your phone rather than a TV remote, speeding up the process immensely, but it also provides a free remote. This may be particularly handy if you’re the type of person always losing it down the back of the sofa and just generally keeps it closer to hand.

The only minor irk about the Roku Express 4K’s remote is the lack of volume controls. This is unlikely to be a major deal for most, but it does mean that you have to reach for your standard TV remote when needing to turn up the sound.

What’s the difference between Roku Express and Roku Express 4K?

Roku Express review

The two main differences between these Roku streaming players are the price and streaming quality. Roku Express is the brand’s cheapest device at £29.99 and offers HD streaming. The new Roku Express 4K is £10 more expensive at £39.99, but you do get higher quality 4K streaming for that price.

Beyond this, the devices are almost identical. Both streaming players plug into the back of your TV via the HDMI port but have to be in view to work. The streaming players also have a very similar size and shape, with identical remotes. However, this does mean that neither of them has volume controls on the remote.

The similarities continue as the set-up is quick and simple for both devices, and the homepage remains the same on both the Roku Express and its 4K counterpart. This means that the streaming players offer access to the same apps, including Netflix, Disney+, NOW, YouTube and BT Sport, and they can be navigated by Roku voice control.

Deciding between these two streaming players will come down to what TV you have, its streaming capabilities and your budget. If you don’t have a 4K TV, you won’t be able to appreciate the higher quality that the Roku Express 4K offers, and you’re better off saving £10 with the Roku Express. However, if you do benefit from having a 4K TV, then the Roku Express 4K is more than worth the money. Plus, it’s still cheaper than its Amazon alternative, the Amazon Fire TV Stick 4K.

Our verdict: should you buy Roku Express 4K?

The Roku Express 4K is one of the best value streaming players available right now. For £39.99, the streaming device offers 4K streaming that does not lag or buffer. There’s a good range of streaming services and apps available, including all the big-hitters such as Netflix, Amazon Prime Video and NOW. Roku has kept the price down by making the streaming player and its homepage simple, but this makes it incredibly user-friendly, aided by the use of an accurate voice assistant. For less than £40, you’ll be hard-pressed to find a better 4K streaming device.

Ease of set-up: 5/5

Design: 3.5/5

Steaming quality: 5/5

Value for money: 5/5

Overall: 4.5/5

Where to buy Roku Express 4K 

The Roku Express 4K streaming player is available at a number of UK retailers.

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For more of the latest news, product guides and reviews, head to the Technology section. Or try our best streaming device guide to see how the Roku Express 4K compares.