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Roku Ultra vs. Roku Streaming Stick

See how two of Roku's most popular devices stack up to each other.

Hedy Phillips
roku-streaming-stick-2017-03.jpg

Sarah Tew/CNET

Device Overview

Roku Ultra Roku Streaming Stick
• $100
• Dolby Vision, Dolby Atmos, and Bluetooth
• Connect to Apple products with AirPlay
• $40
• Voice-powered remote control
• Easy to install (and hide) on wall-mounted TVs

Roku Ultra is one of Roku's top-of-the-line products. The only Roku products with higher price tags are the soundbars. It comes with a variety of attractive features, like its ability to pair with AirPlay, its incredibly high-quality streaming capabilities, the voice-enabled remote, and so much more. The Roku Streaming Stick, on the other hand, is a much simpler streaming device. While it also has a voice-enabled remote, it streams slightly lower-quality video and has fewer extra features. The price tag matches that, though, at just $40. 

Though you can't buy the Roku Streaming Stick from Roku anymore, if you already have one, you know how it functions and might be interested in upgrading your streaming experience. Ahead, we'll compare the Roku Ultra with the Roku Streaming Stick so you can see how the two match up.

Comparing Roku Ultra vs. Roku Streaming Stick


Roku UltraRoku Streaming Stick
Price $100$40
Streaming quality Up to 1080p on HD TVs, up to 2160p at 60fps on 4K TVs, and supports Dolby Vision at 60fps, HDR10/10+ and HLG on 4K HDR TVsUp to 1080p (1920 x 1080) with up-scaling from 720p on HD TVs
Voice-enabled remote Yes, with Alexa, Siri, and Hey GoogleYes, with Alexa and Hey Google
Connect to TV via HDMI 2.0bHDMI 1.4
Headphones for private listening YesYes

Roku Ultra vs Roku Streaming Stick pricing

Roku Ultra

The Roku Ultra's sticker price is $100, however, you can definitely find a deal on this device. Roku has run sales on this particular streaming device, dropping the price down to $70 or even lower. It can be purchased directly through Roku as well as at popular retailers like Amazon, Best Buy, and Walmart. The price may fluctuate depending on the retailer, but it's generally around $100. However, if you have a discount for one of the larger retailers, you might find a better deal than shopping directly with Roku.

Roku Streaming Stick

The Roku Streaming Stick is actually no longer available through Roku. The last known retail price for this streaming device was $40, however, if you're looking to purchase this now, you might only find it at select retailers or secondhand through a place like eBay. Prices can vary greatly depending on availability and condition (if secondhand). You can also consider the Roku Streaming Stick+ as an alternative and similar option.

Roku Ultra vs. Roku Streaming Stick features

Roku Ultra

The Roku Ultra is exactly what it sounds like -- the ultra streaming experience. It offers high-quality viewing on your fancier TVs (including Dolby Vision at 60fps), but will offer just as good of a streaming experience on HD and regular 4K TVs. Like any Roku, it's an easy setup experience. You just plug it into your TV, connect to the internet, and follow the prompts on the screen for setup. You'll then have your home screen where you can add whatever apps you want to have access to.

The remote on the Roku Ultra has standard buttons and also has a voice-control button. It functions with Alexa, Siri, and Hey Google for easier access to what you need. And while both the Roku Ultra and the Roku Streaming Stick have the capability to offer private listening through your phone, only the Roku Ultra comes with a pair of headphones to do so. 

The Roku Ultra is a bulkier design than the Roku Streaming Stick, but it's still a small enough device to be unassuming. It's 1"x5"x5", which means you can tuck it away in your entertainment center pretty easily. This streaming device also pairs with Apple AirPlay to make it easier to sync up your Apple products.

Perhaps one of the most attractive features of Roku Ultra in comparison to the Roku Streaming Stick is its current availability. If you don't already have a Roku Streaming Stick, it might be hard to find one, as Roku no longer sells that product. However, the Roku Ultra is readily available from not just Roku, but other retailers as well. If you already have a Roku Streaming Stick and aren't fully aware of the specifics on it, keep reading to find out what that device offers in comparison to the Roku Ultra.

Roku Streaming Stick

The Roku Streaming Stick is beyond easy to set up. All you have to do is plug the stick into your TV's HDMI port, turn your TV on, and connect to the internet. The screen will prompt you through the steps, and it's very easy to follow. 

The remote for the Roku Streaming Stick is your standard Roku remote (they're all largely the same), and it includes a voice-activated button. The Roku Streaming Stick works with Alexa and Google Assistant, but not Siri. It includes all the control buttons you need, in addition to shortcuts to favorite apps. 

The Roku Streaming Stick is all about simplicity, so it's nothing more than a stick you plug into your TV. The sleek design makes it ideal for hiding behind your wall-mounted TVs, so you never have to see it. It's much smaller than some of the other streaming devices on the market. But with that simplicity also comes a lower-quality streaming capability. The Roku Streaming Stick will work fine on your HD TVs, but it doesn't stream in 4K or HDR. It can handle up to 1080p with upscaling from 720p, but if you have a 4K TV, you won't get that crisp picture you might want. 

With both the Roku Ultra and the Roku Streaming Stick, you'll get all the same content since both are within the Roku family. Roku is packed with so much streaming goodness, including your favorite apps like Netflix, Hulu, Amazon Prime Video, HBO Max, Disney+, Apple TV+, and more. With all of these streaming apps, you have access to Oscar-winning movies, Emmy-winning TV shows, hilarious movies, long-running TV shows, documentaries, reality TV, and everything in between these. As long as you have a subscription to these streaming services, you can install the apps on your Roku. You can also stream a variety of music apps, like Pandora, iHeartRadio, and Spotify. 

What makes Roku unique is the Roku Channel. It's Roku's hub for free TV and movies, which means there's plenty to stream at no charge to you. No rentals, no purchases, just on-demand viewing. This channel has a great selection of classic TV and movies, as well as family-friendly viewing. Much like other streaming services, it changes from time to time and appears on your screen like your other favorite streamers. 

You can also find other free channels and apps on your Roku to view sports and news, as well as top TV and movies. Free channels include The CW, Peacock, NBC News, Crackle, PBS, and more.      

Our final take

For cord cutters looking for a simple device, the Roku Streaming Stick is a fine option. You'll get all the same content as you would with the Roku Ultra but at a lower price point. If you have a 4K TV, though, the Roku Ultra will give you a better viewing experience. If you can snag the Roku Ultra at a sale price, it's definitely a better buy because it's a higher-quality viewing experience.