Home Apple Roku Ultra (2019) review: It's all about the buttons

Roku Ultra (2019) review: It’s all about the buttons


How a lot do you worth just a few additional buttons?

That’s the principle query you need to ask your self when deciding between the 2019 Roku Extremely and cheaper Roku streamers. At $100, the Extremely is by far the most costly Roku participant, and it stays the one one with each a USB port for exterior drives and an ethernet jack for wired connectivity. This 12 months, the Extremely additionally has a brand new distant, which for the primary time features a quantity mute button and two programmable keys.

In comparison with the $60 Roku Streaming Stick+, which additionally helps 4K HDR video, these additional buttons make the brand new Roku Extremely a barely extra engaging improve than it was. However looking over your entire streaming gadget panorama, Roku continues to be behind the instances in just a few key areas. If you happen to’re thinking about voice management, good house integration, broader 4K HDR format help, or simple shopping throughout completely different content material sources, venturing outdoors the Roku ecosystem will get you a extra succesful streamer.

Enhancements inside

From the surface, the brand new Roku Extremely seems no completely different than final 12 months’s mannequin. It nonetheless has a USB port for enjoying media from exterior drives, a microSD card slot for storing extra apps, an HDMI port, and an ethernet jack that helps speeds as much as 100Mbps. (The Extremely from 2016 additionally had optical audio output for sound programs that require a Toslink connection, however Roku eradicated it from subsequent upgrades.) In a pleasant contact, a button on high of the streaming field performs a sound on the distant that will help you discover it.

rokuultra2019back Jared Newman / IDG

The Roku Extremely stays the one Roku participant with all these ports, together with USB, microSD, and ethernet.

Whereas Roku doesn’t give out actual tech specs, new Extremely has extra reminiscence and the next clock velocity on its quad-core processor than earlier fashions, all in service of loading apps sooner. With these {hardware} enhancements and a few software program optimizations, the corporate claims that it’s seen a mean 17 p.c enchancment in app launch instances for the highest 100 streaming apps, and a 33 p.c enchancment for stay TV streaming apps specifically.

These claims held up in a few of the apps I examined. PlayStation Vue, Sling TV, and Tubi TV all launched roughly a pair seconds sooner on the Extremely than they did on a Roku Streaming Stick+. Vue’s channel grid additionally loaded a few second sooner on the Extremely, and it was a split-second sooner at refreshing program information when scrolling down the grid information.

Nonetheless, the velocity will increase aren’t common. I couldn’t discern any efficiency variations between the Extremely and Streaming Stick+ whereas utilizing Hulu, Pluto TV, and Plex, and whereas Netflix launched a few second sooner on the Extremely, navigation velocity and content material loading instances have been about the identical.

Testing the Roku Extremely in opposition to Amazon’s new Fireplace TV Dice, the outcomes have been a wash, with some apps loading sooner on the previous and others loading sooner on the latter. Bear in mind, nevertheless, that Amazon doesn’t fully shut down apps whenever you shut them like Roku does, so it will possibly soar again into latest apps a lot sooner in comparison with the Roku Extremely.

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Newton Allan
Newton Allan is an expert of Apple and has started as a journalist for us (Trevino). He currently contributes for Trevino by writing about the latest happenings in the Apple INC.

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