“What is Roku?” and “How does Roku work?” are common questions asked by those who aren’t familiar with the Roku media player. Roku is a streaming player, basically a small black box which, in a nutshell, takes content from the internet and lets you watch it on your TV. With a Roku player or Roku stick, you can watch content from a wide variety of sources — some free and some paid — and also listen to music, play games and enjoy other internet-based apps on your television. As for how Roku works, the device provides a connection between your television and the internet, either wired using Ethernet cables or wireless using a wireless router. Since your connection to the internet is a key factor in how good your streaming experience will be, you may want to consider getting a Wi-Fi extender to work with your router to lengthen the range. This will help ensure you have a strong signal in the area of the house where your television and Roku are located.
Choosing a Roku player for your TV.
There are a variety of different Roku models, each with different features to meet your needs. But each Roku player provides access to thousands of streaming channels, allows you to search multiple providers, comes with a remote control, and enables screen-mirroring of Android and Windows devices. So what’s the best Roku for you? The Roku Express is the least expensive option, offers all the apps and services you can find on any Roku device, and outputs video at 1080p. The Roku Premiere offers support for 4K and HDR video. The Roku Streaming Stick plugs directly into the HDMI port on your TV, and includes an enhanced remote complete with voice search, while the Roku Streaming Stick Plus offers 4K and HDR support and works with Wi-Fi at a longer range. The Roku Ultra takes the best of the other Roku devices and adds a microSD slot for additional storage and a USB port you can use to view content on external drives.
Roku player remote control vs. Roku mobile app.
You may want to consider keeping a supply of lithium batteries on hand so you never find yourself unable to use your Roku remote. However, if you do end up with a remote control with dead batteries, or worse a lost remote, you can use the free Roku mobile app as your control center. As long as you have a smartphone or compatible device, and have a Roku running OS 8.2 or higher, you can give voice commands with the app, such as “show me romantic comedies” or “show me Jack Nicholson movies.” With the app, you can also switch between other entertainment options that are connected to your Roku through your network like a Blu-ray player, gaming console or cable box.
Roku for watching TV and movies.
Roku gives you access to nearly endless entertainment choices. You can shop the Roku Channel Store to add new channels like Netflix, YouTube, Hulu and HBO GO when you wish. Plus, there are channels available that will enable you to watch local content and sports. Whether or not you can experience 4K Ultra HD video will depend on which Roku model you choose, and also whether you have a 4K TV with an HDCP 2.2-compatible HDMI port. Check the owner’s manual for the television. All Roku devices can output at least 1080p quality.