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Roku Ultra 2020 vs 2021 review & comparison chart

Roku Ultra 2020 vs 2021 review
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What is the upgrade in Roku Ultra 2020 or Roku 2021? Enjoy our smoothest TV streaming experience, even in rooms further from your router, now with up to 50% more range—you also have the choice to wire up over Ethernet if you want. With Dolby Vision and Dolby Atmos—experience spectacular color, contrast, and brightness, plus three-dimensional audio that soars above and around you. Know more in Roku Ultra 2020 vs 2021 review & comparison chart.

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In the box

  • Roku Ultra Streaming Media Player
  • Remote
  • 2 AA Duracell Batteries
  • Headphones
  • power adaptor
  • Premium HDMI Cable

Pros & Cons – Roku Ultra 2020 vs 2021

Pros

  • The Dolby Vision and Dolby Atmos really enhance movies, sports, and gaming. Combining great video and great audio make this the best streaming option at under $100.
  • Google Movies and Apple TV+ both have apps so you can stream the movies you’ve purchased on iOS or Android. That option isn’t available on the Chromecast.
  • The Spectrum cable app is available on the Roku Ultra. You can save money by using the Roku Ultra to stream cable in your bedroom, guest room, or living room. The cable company charges $9/month to rent cable boxes for reference. This option isn’t available on the Chromecast.
  • Easy to setup and a smooth user experience. Out of the box to streaming took 5 minutes.

Cons

No HBO Max but there is the old HBO app still available. The old HBO app has all of the HBO shows but the movie selection is different and not as good. – It’s fast and smooth but not much faster then the 2019. Buy it for the Dolby Atmos and Dolby Vision but do not upgrade for a boost in speed.

Specs

  • Size: 4.9 x 4.9 x 0.9 inches
  • Max Resolution: 3840 x 2160
  • Ports: Ethernet, USB
  • Remote: Enhanced voice remote
  • Device Type: Box

Roku Ultra 2020 vs 2021 Price

The Ultra is the least-improved of Roku’s second-gen lineup, but its price has dropped to an appealing $99.99. That’s more than the new Fire TV ($69.99) and Chromecast Ultra ($69), but less than the last generation’s price ($129.99) and much less than the Apple TV 4K (one healthy kidney and the soul of your first-born child).

If you have some extra money and want to get away from the Roku OS, there’s the Amazon Fire TV Cube. It costs $20 more, but it has far-range speakers that let you deliver voice commands without the need for a remote. For $150, you can get the Android TV-powered Nvidia Shield TV,  which adds high-end Android gaming and PC cloud gaming via GeForce Now. Finally, there’s the Apple TV 4K box for $180. It has 32GB of storage, Siri voice support, and you can play iOS games on it.

Roku Ultra Comparison chart

Ultra 2020Ultra 2019Ultra LT
Model number4800R or 4800RW4670R or 4670RW4662RW
Connectivity802.11ac dual-band, MIMO wireless & ethernet802.11ac dual-band, MIMO wireless & ethernet802.11ac dual-band, MIMO wireless & ethernet
Video4K, 1080 HD4K, 1080 HD4K, 1080 HD
HDR supportHDR, Dolby VisionHDRHDR
Dolby AtomsYesNoNo
Local playbackUSBUSBNone
Micro SDNoYesYes
Smart homeAlexa, Hey Google, SiriAlexa, Hey Google, SiriAlexa, Hey Google, Siri
Voice remoteYesYesYes
Personal shortcutYesYesNo
BluetoothYesNoNo

First, the 4800 has a faster processor. It’s noticeably faster than my 4640 and 4670 Ultras.  It also has much more channel storage and operational memory. Put together, the 4800 is much faster than older versions. It has built-in support for the AC-4 audio codec, which is beginning to be used with some Internet streaming sites. It adds MIMO to the WiFi radio for improved wireless performance. The final major improvement is support for Dolby Vision.

Don’t pay more than $99 for any Roku Ultra. That’s the price on the Roku web site, and anywhere it’s being sold higher is scalping. 

Roku Ultra 2020 vs 2021 review

Design

The Roku Ultra is a small set-top box that plugs into one of your spare HDMI ports on your TV. The Roku Ultra 2020 is a five-inch square box about an inch high. It lets you tap into nearly every video streaming service, both free and premium. As the most powerful Roku device, the Ultra also includes 4K support and crisp HDR options. The Ultra comes bundled with a pair of JBL earbuds that plug directly into the remote, which is a perfect way to catch up on late-night binges without waking anyone up.

Connector

It has four jacks on one side for the following: ethernet, HDMI, USB 3.0, and the supplied proprietary DC power supply. The Ultra comes with an HDMI cable and a remote with a mini-jack for headphones

Processor

Roku amped the 2020 version of its Ultra up with a faster quad-core processor and improved wireless support for 50% more range compared to earlier Roku Ultra boxes.

Longer WiFi coverage

It uses 802.11ac dual-band MIMO wireless for a fast, clean connection, with up to 50% more range, but it will also work with 802.11n if that is the best your router can do. 

Audio jack

Probably the coolest feature about the remote is that it has a 3.5mm auxiliary jack on the side of it that allows you to connect a pair of headphones for private listening. This is a hugely handy feature when the family goes to bed and you don’t want to wake them up, and it’s something that very few other streaming devices have.

Screen cast

The Roku Ultra also supports screen casting – not a codec per se, but definitely a useful feature when you have a roomful of friends who all want to share their favorite YouTube clip – as well as HomeKit and AirPlay 2 support.

Content search

Roku’s included remote supports voice commands via Amazon’s Alexa and Google Assistant for hands-free navigation. It supports Bluetooth connections as well, so feel free to stream your tunes straight from your phone.

Roku OS

Roku OS is easy to navigate. It packs nearly all major streaming services on the service, including the free Roku Channel of TV shows, movies, and even live programming. If an app is not available, you can use its screen mirroring feature to mirror your smartphone or tablet’s screen to the TV. Apple users can rejoice thanks to a recent AirPlay 2 update that brings iPhone and iPad support for all Roku devices at last.

Apps support – Roku Ultra 2020 vs 2021

Access to content is great, especially with Dolby Vision. You’ll find all the usual streaming sources in the Roku Channel Store. Here are some of the most popular: Netflix, Hulu, Amazon Prime Video, Disney+, HBO Max, YouTubeTV, Tubi, Pluto TV, Sling TV, Peacock, Paramount+, Discovery+, Philo, Vudu, Plex, AppleTV+, Showtime, Straz, Frndly TV, BritBox, Bravo, Funimation, Crackle, Locast, TLC Go, Redbox, HGTV Go, Viki, BET +, QVC & HSN, Telemundo, Google Play Movies and TV, FilmRise, Investigation Discovery, BYUtv, XUMO, Lifetime, Adult Swim, MTV, History, PureFlix, USA Network, TNT, Food Network Go, Tablo TV, Shudder, FX Now, AMC, TBS, SYFY, E!, Hallmark TV, A&E, VH1 and dozens more. 

Remote

The remote, which was upgraded nearly across the board in the new Roku line (the Roku Express and Express+ were left out), now features a power button that turns your Roku remote into a universal remote. More on that in a bit. It also has a headphone jack for private listening; shortcut buttons for some services (including Netflix); and two buttons (“A” and “B”) for “gaming,”

the remote plays a sound effect when you push a button on the Roku Ultra box. It has four pre-assigned buttons to call up Netflix, Disney+, Hulu, and SlingTV, along with two customizable buttons.

Setting up a Roku Ultra

Set up for the Ultra is simple:

  • Connect the HDMI cable to an available port on the TV and to the Roku device
  • Connect the power supply to the Roku and a wall outlet
  • Allow it to auto-detect your audio and video specs
  • Pair the Roku remote with the device, and connect it to your Wi-Fi network.
  • Connect to your Wi-Fi network (or to the router with the ethernet cable). Choose your network from the choices shown on-screen and enter the password with the remote and on-screen keyboard
  • Create a Roku account or sign in to your existing account

Roku Ultra 2020 vs 2021 Customer reviews

It’s great

I have all versions of Roku Ultra (2018,2019, 2020) and I have to say there is NO BIG difference from each one! The 2018 version doesnt have the tv off, mute, volume buttons, button shortcuts, that the 2019 and 2020 has, but the loading times of channels, the channel selection, is the same on all versions.

The big difference I see mostly is the support for Dolby Atmos, Dolby Digital Plus, HDR vision, HDR10, or the 4k Home theater hard core fans. I can finally play all my Vudu 4k movies with Atmos or hear my 5.1 dolby plus sound bar at its full Potential. There was 4k support before on the 2019 roku but no dolby vision or dolby atmos at the time. Glad they added it in the 2020 version cause pretty much all the new 4k movies are in hdr10 or vision, with dolby plus or atmos.

I havent checked if the the 2020 roku is cooler than the previous versions, its only been 2 hrs since I turned this on, but I can say that the old power cable of the roku 2019 version does work with the roku 2020 version. The old remotes of all ultra versions work on the 2020 roku, setup was pretty simple. just register it when you login into your roku account on any laptop, phone, computer etc and make sure to allow it network access and you should be streaming in no time.

I’d say the only big thing or turn off for the roku is that it only works really well if you have all the equipment to take full advantage of the goodies u get. For me I have a decent 4k tv, 4k player, soundbar, cables, and watch alot of streaming channels that only Roku offers. $100 is not so bad I have chromecast 4k and apple 4k tv too but most of my movies, channels, and overall preferences goes to roku first.

For people that are new, old, curious, the roku 2020 is a good choice it offers all the 4k standerds, hdr, atmos, hd, channel selection, fair price, EZ remote friendly, and convenient you wont get disappointed. Again if your struggling to decide which player is best for just pick the one that fills all your needs. I use both apple 4k and roku, apple 4k tv works great with my apple exclusive only tv shows, movies or things I can only do on apple, my ipad 2020 version and iphone SE works amazing with the tv mirror option and sharing from ipad or iphone to appletv options, love watching Twitch TV and HBO Max that are only available on apple tv. However Roku has all movies and tv shows that I bought when we first started “DigItal Copies)” Ultraviolet, UV, before Movies Anywhere , most of my digital movies and tv show redemptions were only available to “Vudu”, even with movies anywhere not all my movies show up when I connected my vudu to movies anywhere. Also apple has a crappy player software or a really bad player gui that all the apps must use, but the roku vudu version is amazing or at least decent enough to move around and have the basic play, next chapter, fast forward, chapters, etc organized enough that you dont have to keep sliding and sliding compared to the apple remote. Also you can buy/rent movies on the vudu roku version, on the apple tv you can only watch on the app version. I only payed 50$ or half off for the 2019 roku ultra the apple tv never goes on sale or if it does good luck paying under 100$. The free 4k upgrade is nice of apple but I hate the player options or constant battle to slide back and forth to skip scenes, switch languages with a big giant menu box on top of the screen blocking most of the picture. Plus I hate rebuying some of my movies or tv shows on Apple Tv because movies anywhere doesn’t recognize my UltraViolet movies.

Again great roku but I just dont see the BIg Bang or alot of changes that makes it the Best. Kudos to bestbuy for the fast shipping, Shipped out Sunday and got it Tuesday as promise and no damage to the product. Might get another one for sure if I get a 8k tv and if Black Friday has it on sale again am definitely getting 2.

By piddy at Best Buy

Roku comparison chart – Rolu Ultra 2020 vs Roku Express 4K+

Roku Ultra 2020Roku Express HDRoku Express 4K+
Popular streaming channelsYesYesYes
115+ Free live TV channels YesYesYes
Picture qualityHD, 4K, HDR, Dolby VisionHDHD, 4K, HDR
Connects to TV via Premium HDMI CableHDMI CablePremium HDMI Cable
Built-in speakers
Wireless + connectivityOur best wireless & EthernetStandard wirelessStandard wireless
Voice remote with TV controlsYesYes
Lost remote finderYes
Works with voice assistants YesYesYes
Apple AirPlay compatibleYesYesYes
Bluetooth streamingYes
Supported AudioDolby Atmos

Roku comparison chart

Roku Streaming Stick+Roku Streambar
Popular streaming channelsYesYes
115+ Free live TV channels YesYes
Picture qualityHD, 4K, HDRHD, 4K, HDR
Connects to TV via HDMI CablePremium HDMI Cable/Optical
Built-in speakersYes
Wireless + connectivityLong-range wirelessLong-range wireless
Voice remote with TV controlsYesYes
Lost remote finder
Works with voice assistants YesYes
Apple AirPlay compatibleYesYes
Bluetooth streamingYes
Supported AudioDolby Audio

Alternate of Roku Ultra 2020 vs 2021

Roku Premiere

Pros

  • Roku’s easy-to-navigate platform
  • Supports 4K, HDR, and Dolby Atmos sound

Cons

  • Bad connectivity
  • No Ethernet

The Roku Premiere has changed forms several times in the last few years, going from a slightly lower-end version of the Roku Ultra to a slightly higher-end take on Roku’s entry-level Express model.

The latest version is actually slightly lower-end compared to the Roku Streaming Stick+, offering worse WiFi connectivity and no Ethernet port.

That said, if you can’t get the Streaming Stick+, the Premiere isn’t a bad alternative. You’re still getting the excellent Roku platform and it still supports 4K, HDR, and Dolby Atmos sound with a compatible TV and audio system.

On top of that, unlike Roku’s Streaming Stick+ and Ultra, the Premiere’s remote requires line-of-sight for control, does not work for TV volume or power, and doesn’t include voice support, which makes it much more difficult to use the search function. It’s a Roku, so you are getting a great experience overall, but it’s only slightly cheaper than the Streaming Stick+ and we’d prefer the better remote and faster WiFi speed in most situations.

Roku Express 4K Plus

SPECIFICATIONS

  • Size: 3.3 x 1.5 x 0.7 inches
  • Max Resolution: 3840 x 2160
  • Ports: None
  • Remote: Network Voice remote
  • Device Type: Box
REASONS TO BUY
  • +Excellent 4K HDR performance
  • +Decent navigation
  • +Improved remote
REASONS TO AVOID
  • Awkward design
  • No Dolby Vision or Atmos

Previously, you needed a direct line of sight — and to point your remote directly at the Roku — for it to work. This way is a lot better, so you don’t need to think when you click the paddle. That, plus UHD image quality and snappy performance means that the Roku Express 4K Plus is the best streaming device for those on a budget. 

So, you want to get 4K streaming at the lowest price possible, but you’re worried about cutting too many corners? Check out the new Roku Express 4K Plus, which is the replacement to the flawed Roku Premiere. We like this model a lot mmore because of its improved remote.

We wish it were a little heavier, though, as you may wind up spending a minute fiddling with its HDMI cable to make it sit flat on a surface. The Roku Streaming Stick Plus doesn’t have that issue. And if you love A/V standards such as Dolby Vision or Atmos Audio. you may need to look elsewhere. 

Editor’s recommendations