If you’ve been a cord cutter for any period of time, you’ve probably become familiar with the Roku brand. So what is Roku Ultra, and how is it different than previous Roku devices? The Company’s newest version of the device, the Roku Ultra, is a huge step forward for their line of streaming set-top boxes. It offers a wide array of features including 4K resolution, HDR support, USB connectivity, and a remote control with voice search. Overall the Roku Ultra is a huge improvement over the Roku 4 and should be a highly coveted device for any cord cutter or media lover. The Roku Ultra cost compared to other devices make it a solid choice for both new and experienced users. In this Roku Ultra review, we’ll analyze the design, performance, specs, and features provided by the device.
Roku Ultra Review: Design
The Roku Ultra has a lot in common with previous versions of the Roku streaming set-top box. While the Roku 4 was large, boxy, and noisy — the Roku Ultra has improved the design in all of these areas. It is smaller and much quieter overall. The device is 4.9 x 4.9 x 0.9 inches, making it small enough to fit in small areas of your entertainment center or TV stand. Additionally, the device has greatly improved upon the cooling setup. So much so, in fact, that the device no longer uses fans to cool itself.
The Roku Ultra features a number of different inputs including Ethernet, HDMI, and optical. There is also a microSD card slot and a USB port. The device comes with a built-in media player that can play any standard file extension and also offers high-res audio. One of the downsides of the device is that it inexplicably doesn’t come with an HDMI cable, which is a standard for most streaming set-top boxes. Other than that small gripe, the Roku Ultra’s design is sleek and a huge improvement over previous version’s designs.
Roku Ultra Review: Software
The Roku operating system hasn’t seen any huge changes over the course of the last few years. However, it’s basic design doesn’t leave that much to be desired. They have purposely made the Roku Ultra and other Roku devices incredibly easy to use, likely targeting older users who are just getting into set-top boxes. The menu system is about as straight-forward as it gets. With the Roku Ultra, the ease of use is really compounded by the fact that browsing is lightning-fast on the device. You can get between apps and menus without ever noticing any substantial waiting time.
The home screen puts all of the focus on the different channels that are offered. The apps that you have downloaded to the device are the first thing that you see when you boot the Roku Ultra up. You can re-arrange the apps on this screen to put your most-used apps at the top of the list. There are a number of great apps available, including several options for live TV streaming. Outside of the apps, search, and settings — there isn’t a whole lot to do on the Roku Ultra as it does not offer the same gaming features that other set-top boxes do.
Roku Ultra Review: Remote
With each new version, the Roku remote continues to improve, and the remote that comes with the Roku Ultra is no different. While they aren’t exactly the best remotes on the market, they are responsive and more than good enough to get around the basic menu systems. The Roku Ultra remote has a matte finish and is a bit slimmer than some of the previous versions of the remote. It includes direct buttons to popular apps including Netflix, Hulu, SlingTV, and Showtime. It also offers an audio input for headphones, so you can watch TV without bothering those around you.
Roku Ultra Review: Performance
Compared to previous Roku devices, the Roku Ultra is jam-packed with power. It features a quad-core processor, full 4K video playback, and support for HDR and Dolby audio. Going from one menu to another is simple, and the speed of the device makes the menus very quick. Opening an app takes just a few quick seconds. The video quality offered depends heavily upon your internet connection, but the Roku Ultra is able to play in top of the line 4K resolution if you have the internet power to allow it. It may take up to 20 seconds to reach its full video quality potential. Standard HD is typically ready to go in just a few seconds.
Roku Ultra Review: Conclusion
The Roku Ultra is by far the best device that the company has offered thus far. There really aren’t that many issues to complain about. If you are familiar with previous Roku devices, this one offers much of the same, with a lot of added power. The design is sleek and quieter than previous versions, and the remote is excellent. Other Roku Ultra reviews have been very positive as well. With the Roku Ultra price coming in at just over $100, it is well worth the money. In summation, the Roku Ultra is an excellent set-top box choice for new and experienced cord cutters alike.