Roku 4 Review
The Roku 4 is the fourth generation of Roku’s lineup of TV accessories. Like the other Roku devices, the Roku 4 promises to turn any TV into a smart TV with expanded features. Here’s our review.
What is the Roku 4?
The Roku 4 is the fourth member of Roku’s TV accessory lineup. Like the other Roku boxers that came before it, the Roku 4 adds enhanced functionality to your TV – like streaming services, games, media playback, and much more.
The first and most noticeable thing about the Roku 4 is that it’s much larger than the three that came before it. The first Roku was the size of a thumb drive. The next two were slightly larger than a deck of cards. The Roku 4 is more than twice the size of the 2 and 3 – it’s about the size of a dinner plate.
In fact, the Roku 4 kind of looks like what would happen if you stomped on the Roku 3 and flattened it out: it’s thinner but wider than the Roku 3.
The big “4” on the outside of the box indicates more than just the name of the device: it also indicates the fact that the Roku 4 delivers 4K video. You’ll find more 4K-capable apps on the Roku 4 than any other devices. It also makes 4K TV shows and movies easier to find – so you can take full advantage of 4K technology (assuming you have a 4K TV, of course).
Other nifty features on the Roku 4 include a remote with voice search technology and a headphone jack for private listening (so you can listen to whatever is on TV without disturbing the people around you). There’s also a finder function you can activate when the remote gets lost in your couch. Just press the button on the top of the Roku 4 box and you’ll find your remote.
Using the Roku 4
Using the Roku 4 is straightforward: the device comes with fast performance and responsive controls over both wired connections and Wi-Fi. If you’ve used the Roku 3, then you know what to expect from the Roku 4: there’s not a noticeable difference between the two, and the Roku 3 was one of the better-performing set top boxes when it was first released.
The main Roku 4 interface is intuitive. All content is organized in a way that makes it easy to find what you want and how to get it. It’s a new operating system, but it’s fairly similar to the one currently available on other Roku models.
You may find the Roku OS more restricted than Alexa (the OS used by Amazon Fire TV) and Siri (the OS used by Apple TV). However, Roku has always emphasized minimalistic design and straightforward UIs.
After turning on your Roku, you’ll be able to browse through channels and services – including Netflix, YouTube, Amazon video, and other services. You can look at the most popular 4K content and the most popular free content.
HDMI 2.0 Versus HDMI 1.4
The Amazon Fire TV can handle 4K videos. However, there’s one major difference between the way the Amazon Fire TV and Roku 4 handle videos: the Roku 4 has HDMI 2.0 inputs, while the Amazon Fire has HDMI 1.4 inputs.
That means you’ll be able to get 60fps videos on your Roku 4 in 4K (when they become available). It also means that the Roku 4 will (possibly) be upgraded to handle High Dynamic Range (HDR) content, which requires HDMI 2.0a connectivity.
Ultimately, the difference between HDMI 2.0 and HDMI 1.4 isn’t very noticeable today, but it plays a significant role in how future-proof your boxes are.
Roku 4 Pricing
The Roku 4 costs $130. That’s $30 more than the Amazon Fire TV but still less than the newest version of Apple TV.
Ports and Connectivity
The Roku 4 has a wireless adapter you can use to connect to your phone’s Wi-Fi. There’s also an Ethernet port for wired internet connections.
Along the sides of the device, you’ll find a USB port, while on the back, beside the Ethernet port, you’ll see optical digital audio ports and a microSD card slot and, directly above the microSD slot, an HDMI port.
That microSD port can handle cards up to 64GB in size, while the USB port can accept any USB stick or hard drive to playback photos, music, and video files (which is all handled over the Roku Media Player app).
The box itself, by the way, has just one single button. On the top, you’ll see a button that looks like the Roku remote. Appropriately enough, that button is used to activate the remote locator function.
Downsides of the Roku 4
Most of the Roku 4’s downsides revolve around what the device doesn’t have.
For example, competitors like Apple TV and Amazon Fire TV both offer better voice searching beyond simple keyboards. They also have more fleshed-out gaming capabilities.
Another problem is that many 4K TVs already come with similar 4K apps built-in, which makes many parts of the Roku 4 redundant. There’s also the problem that 4K content isn’t widespread, and many people aren’t yet willing to pay the premium price for 4K movies.
Should the Roku 4 Be Your New TV Accessory?
If you want to take full advantage of your new 4K TV, then the Roku 4 is one of the best ways to do that. It specializes in finding and playing 4K content – and it does that better than any other TV accessory.
However, some users will find that the Roku 4 just doesn’t have enough unique features to be worth the high price tag – especially considering most 4K TVs already come with 4K apps built-in.
Ultimately, if you just bought a 4K TV, then you’re probably not on the tightest budget anyway, in which case the Roku 4 may be a great addition to your home and the best way to take advantage of the emerging world of 4K content.