Roku Express A tiny TV streamer
The smallest set-top box
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 www.snipca.com/26336 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