Roku Ex­press A tiny TV streamer

The small­est set-top box

Computer Active (UK) - - Contents -

In Is­sue 516 we tested Roku’s £79 Stream­ing Stick Plus, which con­nects your HDTV set to a range of on­line video and mu­sic ser­vices in­clud­ing Ama­zon Prime, Google, Net­flix, Now TV and BBC iplayer. The Ex­press does ba­si­cally the same thing, but comes with a dif­fer­ent re­mote con­trol and omits the 4K HDR ca­pa­bil­i­ties of the pricier ver­sion, stick­ing with reg­u­lar Full HD. In­stead of plug­ging straight into an HDMI socket, it comes as a tiny stand­alone box that con­nects to the TV and the mains with ca­bles.

It’s so small, in fact, Roku sug­gests you stick it to the edge of your TV with dou­ble-sided tape, where you’ll barely no­tice it. The catch is that the re­mote con­trol uses tra­di­tional in­fra-red, not Blue­tooth, which means it has to be in sight of the box, so you can’t tuck it away round the back. The Stream­ing Stick Plus’ re­mote con­trol has vol­ume but­tons, but the Ex­press doesn’t, so you’ll have to jug­gle two re­motes. You can also use Roku’s app on your smart­phone to con­trol the Ex­press. This app pro­vides a key­board (making it eas­ier to en­ter the names of pro­grammes and films) and lets you cast your own pho­tos and videos to the TV screen.

Un­like the Stream­ing Stick Plus, the Ex­press only sup­ports the old 2.4GHZ Wi-fi band, so re­cep­tion may not be as good. That’s not ideal, given the de­mands of Full HD video stream­ing, but it should still work fine if you don’t usu­ally have Wi-fi re­cep­tion prob­lems.

You’ll need rea­son­ably fast broad­band,


802.11n Wi-fi • Mains adapter • 720p HD/1080P Full HD • In­fra-red re­mote con­trol • 18x84x36mm (HXWXD) • One-year war­ranty of course, for any in­ter­net video prod­uct. This aside, the Ex­press has sim­i­lar fea­tures to the Stream­ing Stick Plus.

In short, Roku’s soft­ware is good and the choice of ser­vices is ex­cel­lent, but Ama­zon Fire’s Alexa voice search and An­droid app sup­port are miss­ing, and this isn’t a do-it-all Tv-stream­ing and games box like the Ap­ple TV.

VER­DICT: With ac­cess to Ama­zon Video and Google Play Movies & TV as well as all the usual ser­vices, this is a com­pre­hen­sive TV box at a great price


AL­TER­NA­TIVE: Ama­zon Fire TV Stick (2017) £40 A rough­lyghly sim­i­lar choice of ser­vices – mi­nus Google, plus Alexa – and sup­port­p­portpp for games and app­sps in­clud­ing Kodi

De­cent soft­ware and a great choice of chan­nels and ser­vices

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