Roku has long been the easiest way to get a smart TV platform on your dumb TV without having to buy a new TV altogether. In recent years, as more users have gained access to smart TVs, that role has shifted a little. But there’s still absolutely a market for Roku devices, given how much better the Roku operating system is than some competitors. Recently Roku unveiled two new streaming devices — the all-new Roku Streaming Stick 4K, and the Roku Streaming Stick 4K+.
For this review, we’re focusing on the Streaming Stick 4K+, but you can find a separate review on the new Streaming Stick 4K. The difference between the two is the remote — with the Streaming Stick 4K+ getting an upgraded voice remote. Should you get the Streaming Stick 4K+? Or save your money and go for one of Roku’s lower-end devices? We put the Roku Streaming Stick 4K+ to the test to find out.
Roku Streaming Stick 4K+ review: Design
The overall design of the Roku Streaming Stick 4K+ is…pretty much the same. But that’s not a bad thing. The device is subtle and sleek, and it won’t draw too much attention to itself behind your TV. The stick itself is 3.7 inches long and is built from matte black plastic with a glossy Roku logo on the front. It also has a MicroUSB port for charging.
Perhaps more important than the stick itself is the design of the remote. The Streaming Stick 4K+ comes with Roku’s Voice Remote Pro, which has a rechargeable battery, a microphone for voice controls, and a headphone jack to be able to listen privately. The voice controls can be accessed hands-free, too, which is nice. For example, if you can’t find your remote, you can use the command “Hey Roku, where’s my remote?” And, you can use similar commands to raise and lower the volume, change apps, and so on.
The remote also has quick-access buttons for Netflix, Disney+, Hulu, and
My main issue with the remote? It charges through MicroUSB. In 2021. I can kind of understand MicroUSB on the Streaming Stick itself — as you’ll plug it in and forget it. Not so for the remote, which you’ll have to charge every now and then. It’s extremely disappointing that Roku couldn’t include a USB-C port here.
Apart from that, however, the design of the Streaming Stick 4K+ and the Voice Remote Pro is about what you would expect. It’s all black plastic and looks fine.
Roku Streaming Stick 4K+ review: Features and software
The Streaming Stick 4K+ offers a few video-related features that put it ahead of the lower-end streaming devices. You’ll get a 4K resolution with support for HDR, like the Roku Express 4K+. But on this device, you’ll also get Dolby Vision support. Dolby Vision is becoming increasingly common, and with it, you could get a better viewing experience, with a compatible TV.
The Roku interface is tried and tested. It’s not all that exciting or modern, but it’s highly functional, and lets you easily access your favorite streaming services and apps. That’s no different on the Streaming Stick 4K+. You’ll get Roku’s classic grid layout, and if you’ve used a Roku device before you’ll have no issues. Even if you haven’t, the interface should be relatively easy to navigate.
I found myself rarely using the voice commands on offer, but they did come in handy the few times I did use them. Most of us are pretty used to not using voice commands in the living room. I didn’t really find using them to make for a much better experience. Most of the time, anyway. I love the ability to use voice to spell out your email address during setup, instead of having to type it out.
The device comes with Roku’s new quad-core processor, which the company says should be up to 30% faster. The device did in fact seem to be responsive and quick, however, I never felt like the last-generation Streaming Stick+ was especially slow.
Roku Streaming Stick 4K+ review: Video and audio
Video quality on the Roky Streaming Stick 4K+ is great. As long as your TV supports Dolby Vision and HDR 10+, you’ll be able to make use of the two standards for a better-looking image. The device will check your TV during setup to confirm that it’s compatible (or not), and run at the highest settings.
Generally speaking, your TV will have a bigger impact on image quality than your streaming device. Thankfully, the device supports the video standards you would expect in 2021, and at a pretty reasonable price.
It also supports Dolby Atmos passthrough, which means that as long as your streaming app and TV support the tech, and you have a compatible sound system, you’ll get Dolby Atmos audio. You may run into some compatibility issues, however, that will largely depend on your system.
The Roku Streaming Stick 4K+ is a great way to get smart streaming in the living room. I appreciate the effort that Roku has put into integrating Roku into most smart homes. And the device supports the video and audio standards that you would want. The upgraded remote on the Streaming Stick 4K+ is nice, especially given the fact that it’s rechargeable. If you plan on using features like the wired private listening and the two programmable buttons, it’s worth going for.
The biggest competition to this device comes from Roku itself, especially for those who aren’t really considering other operating systems. The new Roku Streaming Stick 4K is just as capable, but comes with the standard Voice Remote, instead of the Voice Remote Pro. You’ll pay $49.99, instead of $69.99.
It’s also worth considering the Amazon Fire TV Stick 4K and Fire TV Stick 4K Max, which also support Dolby Vision and come at a similar price point. If you’d like Alexa integration, they’re the way to go.
Should I buy the Roku Streaming Stick 4K+?
Yes. If you want the extra features on offer by the Voice Remote Pro, it’s worth buying.