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Ultra is Roku’s top-line media streamer, 4K and HDR support and packs all the powerful and unique features of the organization into a single box. At $ 99.99, it is Roku’s favorite model and the company now offers 4K streaming at a lower price with a $ 70 streaming stick.
The $ 30 difference here gives you wired connection options and a headphone jack on the remote. This is a worthwhile upgrade for anyone, though the streaming stick is equally appealing and can save you some money.
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Roku sets a new high bar for streaming ultra video players, though it has been shown by its more expensive cousin, Premier. If you’re into something neat, but don’t mind paying a little bit more for some of the weirdest features, then the Roku Ultra is for you. If not, we suggest you save some cash and pick up a premiere.
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Pros: Roku Ultra can access more TV shows and movies in 4K and HDR than most competing devices. It has the most features of any Roku streamer, and unlike the Chromecast Ultra, it actually includes a remote (and an Amazon video app). The Roku ecosystem offers more applications, better search and more customization than other applications. Optical audio output means you have to use it with older receivers and sound bars
Cons: It’s more expensive than Roku Premier. Content on 4K and HDR is still not uncommon, and your HDR TV already has compatible applications. Unlike some of these TVs, the Ultra Dolby Vision doesn’t work with HDR. Some app interfaces are less polished than competing devices.
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The Bottom Line: If you have a 4K TV and an AV receiver or sound bar that doesn’t pass 4K HDR signals, the Roku Ultra is a great 4K streaming choice.
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The latest Roku Ultra is physically identical to the previous model. It has a plastic slab 0..4 by 1.5 inches (HWD), curved, glossy black sides and flat, matte black top 0. The top panel has a shiny black Roku logo and a small button shaped like an included remote Finder. Turns on the feature and makes the remote the audible tone.
A USB port sits to the right against Roku’s signature purple fabric tag on the left. The back of the Ultra has an HDMI port, an Ethernet port and a power connector. A small white indicator light on the front right shows when the box is on.
The USB and Ethernet ports represent the biggest advantage over the smaller, less expensive Roku streaming stick. While we are fascinated by Stick’s performance in streaming 4K HDR content over Wi-Fi thanks to its new antenna array, we recommend using a wired network connection whenever possible to ensure the best quality.
The USB port, meanwhile, lets you play content from a connected USB drive. Since the streaming stick does not have an Ethernet port and its mini USB port is used for power, Ultra is the only current Roku device with those connection options.
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Like last year’s model, Roku has added all its bells and whistles to the Ultra Remote. The remote is a candy bar-shaped matte black rod with a prominent purple direction pad near the top and a purple fabric tag at the bottom, in addition to standard menu and playback controls, and remote service features HBO, dedicated service buttons for access to Hulu, Netflix and Sling TV. Featured.
It also includes motion sensors, and the bottom edge has an A and B button that lets you turn it to the side and use it as a gamepad for some of the games available in the Roku Channel Store (though we usually find gaming experiences in most media hubs to be dedicated game consoles and Should be significantly inferior to mobile devices).
A headphone jack sits on the left side of the remote, enabling one of our favorite Roku features: personal listening. If you plug in the included earphones or use your own, Roku Ultra automatically mutes the audio going to the TV and instead streams it via a remote. This is very effective if you want to see something without disturbing anyone. Private listening is available on other Roku devices, including the Roku app using your smartphone or tablet in the same way, but the remote is more convenient to use.
A pinhole microphone near the top of the remote is for Ultra’s voice search feature, though currently it only allows you to search content and applications via Roku. This is one step behind voice assistants like Alexa on Amazon Fire TV, Google Assistant on Nvidia Shield TV and Apple TV 4K Siri, which can provide all the useful information and even control smart home devices. The remote also features a small speaker which is a remote find when you mention the Ultra
Roku has taught its remote a new strategy for 2017 The Ultra will automatically detect your TV via HDMI and program the remote with proper infrared commands to control the power and volume of the TV. It’s a very limited functionality, but it lets you turn your TV on and off and adjust the volume without having to reach your TV remote and make the Roku viewing experience more convenient.
Like other Roku devices, you can control the Ultra through the Roku app for Android and iOS. It lets you stream content from your mobile device using the menu’s controls, text input, voice search, personal listening and even the Play on Roku feature.
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Roku Channel Store
Roku remains one of the most powerful platforms for streaming applications and services on a TV, with a channel store that covers almost all the big names in movies, music and TV shows.
You can find Amazon, Crunchyroll, DirectTV, Google Play Movies and Music, Hulu, Netflix, Sling, Spotify, YouTube, and Voodoo, among hundreds of topics, genres, and other applications that cover health. News, sports, technology and more. The only major service that is missing is iTunes which Apple usually puts strictly on Apple TV.
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Streaming Compatibility and Performance
Roku Ultra is a 4K media streamer sharing the same video output capabilities as the streaming stick. It supports high dynamic range (HDR) content using the HDR10 standard, which enhances the HDR brightness and color range that each pixel is able to display and can look stunning on a TV that supports it. However, HDR10 is one of two streaming HDR standards and the other is not supported by Dolby Vision Ultra.
Some streaming services provide HDR10 content, but Dolby Vision has been adopted by Netflix and Voodoo for many HDR releases, meaning you can stream them using standard dynamic range video only, with both Apple TV 4K and Google Chromecast Ultra currently available for Dolby Vision. Supports, though, Amazon Fire TV is just like the Rocus HDR10 Like.
I watched an episode of The Man in the High Castle on Amazon using Roku Ultra in 4K. The network connection seemed a bit more comfortable than the streaming stick, but it was also a bit loose with the wired connection, so the problem could then be the network mess in the lab in our lab. The episode initially appeared full of very little credibility and patterns, but about ten seconds later the stream was updated to match the available bandwidth, and I’m a crisp
Beyond the media playback, the Roku Ultra is very fast and responsive. The menu is instant, and switching between applications takes a few seconds. The performance is comparable to the streaming stick, which shares most of Ultra’s features.
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Roku Ultra is a capable, full-featured media hub, but the streaming stick presents as good value. Ultra’s larger price tag and design allow you to create an Ethernet port, a USB port, a headphone jack on the remote, and remote beeps if you can’t find it. These are a reasonable extra for an extra $ 30, but not necessarily for everyone.
Lack of Dolby Vision is Ultra’s biggest weakness, just as with Streaming Stick, but it’s only a problem for certain services and only if you have a TV that supports Dolby Vision. Otherwise, this is a missing feature that you will never use in any way.
For comprehensive HDR support and lowest prices, Google Chromecast Ultra is currently the best deal. Although it lacks a fully remote or on-screen menu system, it can be tough for low-tech-savvy users to wrap their heads around.
On the other hand, Apple TV 4K and Nvidia Shield TV are both incredibly full-featured systems that both support HDR10 and Dolby Vision, and while the former can access iTunes’ huge media library, modern game features have the advantage. They are also much more expensive at $ 180 and $ 200, respectively. For the price, both the Roku Ultra and the Roku Streaming Stick are solid 4K media hubs, and any one can easily suit your streaming needs.