Roku has become one of the most popular ways to stream multimedia content over the Internet. However, there are several different Roku models available. You are probably confused about which one to choose right now. Don’t worry! Below, you can read the detailed comparisons between two 4K-capable Roku devices, which are Roku Ultra vs Premiere. So, continue reading!
This article will discuss further about:
- What a Roku device is and how it works
- The connection ports available on each model
- The distinctive features of Roku Ultra vs Premiere
- Whether there is a difference in performance or not
- Which Roku device that is generally more recommended
Roku : Overview
Roku says that they are the one who pioneered the multimedia streaming service for the TV. Today, Roku is used by a lot of people because it offers an incredibly convenient and cost-effective way to watch various types of content. You can think of Roku as a DVD player that you never need to put a disc into.
While Roku is available in several different forms, from small dongles to TV sets with built-in Roku service, they all give you the ability to access the biggest content providers in the world.With a Roku unit, you can stream Netflix, Hulu Plus, HBO Go, Amazon Video, Spotify, and many others – without having to pay for a cable package.
Roku is versatile, affordable, and very easy to use, so it makes an ideal option when you want to watch digital content without using a video game console.The entire process is very easy and simple; you only need to plug the Roku unit to your TV, connect to the Internet, create a Roku account if you don’t have one yet, and finally start streaming your favorite channels.
Note that Roku works with an Internet connection. After connecting the Roku unit to the TV, you will be guided step-by-step to set up the necessary Internet connection as well as the Roku profile. For easy operation, every Roku model comes with a remote control – you use the remote control to access the menus and programming.
At the first time you start using the service, you will find that it is pre-loaded with the most common channels such as Netflix, Hulu, and Amazon Video. However, there are a lot more to discover. Roku has a collection of more than 5,000 channels, including premium subscription-based channels and free ad-supported channels. There are channels that provide 4K content. Simply head to the main menu and choose “Select Channels” to add more channels to your account.
Roku Ultra vs Premiere : The Set-Up TV Boxes
Every Roku model can connect to the Wi-Fi connections in hotels, so they are also great for those who travel frequently. However, not all Roku models are the same. They are designed to serve different purposes and needs.
For example, there are simple and cheap dongles that already allow you to stream multimedia content via Wi-Fi. There are also larger, more expensive set-top TV boxes which provide advanced features, including support for streaming 4K Ultra HD content at 60 fps. Meanwhile, the TV sets that come with built-in Roku service are suitable choices if you want to buy a completely new television with easy access to various channels.
If you want to stream 4K content, you should consider getting a Roku set-top TV box. Keep in mind that you still need a 4K television in order to benefit from the higher resolution. Otherwise, the content resolution will be simply reduced to the maximum capability of the television.
There are actually three models available in this group, which are Roku Premiere, Roku Premiere+, and Roku Ultra. However, we will only focus on Roku Premiere and Roku Ultra in this article. Still, all of the three models have these similar features:
- Access to more than 5,000 channels
- HDMI port with HDCP 2.2 for streaming premium 4K content
- Support for 4K Ultra HD at 60 fps
- 11ac dual-band MIMO Wi-Fi for better streaming speeds
- Night Listening Mode
Roku Premiere is the least expensive of the three. It is a successor of Roku 4, which was the company’s first 4K-capable streamer. It still has more 4K apps compared to the other streamers in the market, but the other features are basic. It only has a standard infrared (IR) remote control, and is without the HDR support, Ethernet, and Micro SD slot.
Roku Ultra is on the other end of the spectrum; it is the most expensive of the three. However, the price difference is only several tens of bucks. It has been beefed up with some more connection ports and HDR support. The remote control uses Wi-Fi instead of IR, and comes with built-in voice search and gaming support. There is also the cool remote finder function, which previously debuted on Roku 4 but is not exist on Roku Premiere.
The very first difference between Roku Ultra vs Premiere is the connectivity options. This difference may matter a lot if you are still using an old television that was released before 2015. Why? Older television models mostly rely on analog and digital connections, whereas newer television models have shifted to HDMI ports as the primary connections.
Roku Premiere is only viable if your television has an HDMI input. Most probably, your TV does have one – most modern televisions nowadays are already equipped with HDMI connectivity. However, you may also want to make sure that your TV’s HDMI input does support HDCP 2.2. This is necessary if you want to stream premium protected 4K content. If your TV’s HDMI input is from an older technology, you will not be able to stream premium protected 4K content.
Roku Premiere does not have any other connection port besides HDMI, be it analog or digital. So, this model will not be able to work with televisions that do not have any HDMI input – which is the case with many older models.
Roku Premiere is indeed very basic in terms of connectivity. It only has Wi-Fi. Fortunately, it already supports 802.11ac dual-band MIMO for better streaming speeds. It does not have any USB or Ethernet port. In other words, you can’t stream from an external drive or connect to a wired network.
Whenever a new home theater format or technology comes up, the manufacturers and service providers seem to ‘force’ you to upgrade every device that is associated with it. This trend was evident when HD, 3D, 4K, and HDR technologies came up. In order to enjoy the latest content in the best quality, you are somehow required to upgrade not only your TV, but also your receiver, source device, and speakers.
Roku Ultra offers a relief by being compatible with many older models as well as newer devices. Roku Ultra supports the latest 4K and HDR technologies, so it can stream your favorite content from Netflix, Amazon Video, and more. However, with Roku Ultra, you can keep using your current not-so-brand-new audio system.
What is the secret to this magic?Simple.Roku Ultra comes with an optical digital audio output. Most modern streaming devices nowadays like Xiaomi Mi Box, Google Chromecast Ultra, and Nvidia Shield lack this feature; they transfer audio via HDMI. That is not a problem if you connect the streaming device directly to the TV. However, that is a problem if you are using a sound bar or an AV receiver for switching.
If you prefer not to replace your existing sound bar or AV receiver to a newer model that supports 4K and HDR, Roku Ultra makes an incredibly convenient choice. With Roku Ultra, you can send the video signal via the HDMI port and the audio signal via the optical digital audio output. This is often a huge advantage for people with the right gear.
Additionally, Roku Ultra also comes with a USB port and an Ethernet port. The USB port allows you to stream from an external drive. So, you can store your favorite movies and music in a flash drive, external HDD, or external SSD for later streaming. This is especially useful when travelling. Meanwhile, the Ethernet port enables you to connect the unit to a wired Internet access, which is often more stable and sometimes faster in some situations.
Also, there is another cool thing about Roku Ultra that is not immediately obvious: it can play Blu-ray sized MP4 files of up to 12GB. Most other streamers in the market can only play MP4 files of up to 2GB. This is certainly a big advantage if you have some collection of such large-sized movies.
In terms of features, there are a few differences between Roku Ultra vs Premiere. Most of these features are related to their remotes. The differences include the remote control technology, remote finder function, and gaming buttons.
Roku Premiere comes with a basic remote. Actually, this remote still uses the dated infrared (IR) technology. This type of connection requires you to aim the remote control precisely to the Roku unit, otherwise the command will not be received and performed. This is very inconvenient, especially if you are already accustomed to modern remotes which use the radio frequency (RF).
Furthermore, if you put the remotes of Roku Premiere and Roku Ultra side by side, you may notice that most of the buttons are identical. Both remotes have navigational pads, basic functions like previous, next, and fast-forward, and quick shortcuts to Netflix, Hulu, Amazon Video, and Sling TV. However, Roku Premiere’s remote doesn’t have the power button and gaming buttons.
Most probably, you don’t mind about not having the gaming buttons on your remote. However, the lack of a power button is a real annoyance. You have to get down to turn-on the Roku unit using the on-board button. After watching the movie, you have to get down again to turn-off the unit. Most people will agree that not including a power button on a remote control is a real design failure.
Roku Ultra’s remote control is certainly a lot more convenient to use. To begin with, it is not an IR remote. It already uses the RF technology, so you can use the remote in any direction and the command will always register. In addition, it actually has a power button, so you can turn on and off the Roku unit easily from your couch. Now, this is the real remote control.
The remote control of Roku Ultra comes with some additional features. First of all, you may have noticed the A and B buttons on the remote. These are the so-called gaming buttons. They aren’t really fancy, but they are pretty useful when you just want to play some simple games.
The more useful feature is the built-in voice search. This feature is actually also available on the other Roku models, but only through the free mobile app (available for iOS and Android). With Roku Ultra, you can use the remote for voice search. Finally, Roku Ultra has a remote finder function, which is very useful when you accidentally lose the remote and you can’t remember where you put it.
In general, there is no real performance difference between Roku Ultra vs Premiere. They both are fast. They both stream smoothly, and they are ready to give you some amazing 4K Ultra HD content at 60 fps. However, there are a few features that may or may not make a difference.
First, Roku Premiere does not have a Micro SD slot. Roku Ultra has it. According to the manufacturer, you can make the apps load even faster if you insert an empty memory card into the slot. When tested, the memory card does help to load the apps a little more quickly. The difference is not dramatic, but noticeable.
Second, Roku Premiere does not support High Dynamic Range (HDR) content. The HDR technology is said to be able to provide higher contrast and even more accurate, realistic colors. Some channels do provide HDR content. Well, if your TV doesn’t support HDR anyway, using Roku Premiere is fine. However, if your TV does support HDR, you may want to use a streamer that is able to provide HDR content.
Roku Ultra supports HDR, so it is the ideal choice if you want to enjoy the latest technology. But, then again, this feature is not imperative. The differences between non-HDR 4K and HDR 4K are often very difficult to notice, even by trained eyes. So, you can still enjoy amazing visuals even without the HDR technology.
Roku Ultra vs Premiere
In general, Roku Ultra is much more recommended. The price difference between the two models is not too big. With Roku Ultra, you get a much better remote control along with better features. The remote control has built-in voice search and gaming buttons. There are more connection options, including an optical digital audio output, USB port, and Ethernet port. Also, Roku Ultra supports HDR to give even better content quality.