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Roku Ultra vs. Roku Streaming Stick 4K

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

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TV Guide Editors

Sarah Tew/CNET

Device Overview

Roku Ultra Roku Streaming Stick 4K
• $100
• Dolby Vision, Dolby Atmos, and Bluetooth
• Connect to Apple products with AirPlay
• $50
• Voice-powered remote control
• Easy to install (and hide) on wall-mounted TVs

Roku players are among some of the most popular streaming devices, and the company offers a variety of options to fit different streaming setups. Two of its most popular options are the Roku Ultra and the Roku Streaming Stick 4K.

The Roku Ultra is one of Roku's most powerful players, boasting Dolby Vision cinematic picture quality and Dolby Atmos sound with Roku's Voice Remote Pro. For those who prefer a streaming device that stays out of sight, the Roku Streaming Stick 4K offers a slim profile and simpler voice remote while still boasting cinematic Dolby Vision picture quality. 

These two streaming devices both offer a lot for the money, and both are priced reasonably compared to a lot of other options. There are some key differences, though, so let's look at Roku Ultra and Roku Streaming Stick 4K to see which one is the best Roku device for you.

Comparing Roku Ultra vs. Roku Streaming Stick 4K

Roku UltraRoku Streaming Stick 4K
Price $100$50
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 on HD TVs, up to 2160p at 60fps on 4K TVs, and supports Dolby Vision at 60fps, HDR10/10+ and HLG on 4K HDR TVs
Voice-enabled remote Yes, with Alexa, Siri, and Hey GoogleYes, with Alexa, Siri, and Hey Google
Connect to TV via HDMI 2.0bHDMI 2.0b
Headphones for private listening YesYes, but not included

Roku Ultra vs. Roku Streaming Stick 4K Pricing

Roku Ultra

The Roku Ultra's sticker price is $100. However, you can often find a deal on this device. Roku has run sales, dropping the price down to $70 or even lower. 

Not only can you buy the Ultra directly from Roku, but you can also find it at popular retailers like Amazon, Best Buy, and Walmart. The price may fluctuate depending on the retailer, but it's generally around $100 unless there is a special deal happening.

Roku Streaming Stick 4K

The Roku Streaming Stick 4K comes in at half the cost of the Roku Ultra. At $50, this is already one of the best values you can find for a streaming device. Plus, Roku and other retailers, like Amazon, often offer deals and discounts on the Streaming Stick 4K, dropping it to as low as $30.

Roku Ultra vs. Roku Streaming Stick 4K Features

Roku Ultra

Out of all Roku's streaming devices that don't include soundbars, the Roku Ultra offers Roku's top-of-the-line streaming experience. It's capable of top-notch picture quality on high-end TVs (including Dolby Vision at 60 frames per second), but it will also offer great streaming experience on HD and regular 4K TVs. Like any Roku device, the Roku Ultra has an easy setup experience. Simply plug it into your TV, connect to the internet, and follow the prompts on the screen for setup. Once you're logged into your Roku account, you can customize your home screen with a range of apps, such as Netflix, Hulu, and Disney+.

You can operate the pro Roku remote with standard buttons and voice control, as well as through the Roku app. It works with Alexa, Siri, and Hey Google to give you easy access to what you need. And while both the Roku Ultra and the Roku Streaming Stick 4K 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 4K, but it's still small enough to be unassuming. At only 1-inch by 4.9-inches by 5-inches, you can easily tuck it away in your entertainment center. It also pairs with Apple AirPlay to make it easier to sync up your Apple products.

When compared to the Roku Streaming Stick 4K, one of the Roku Ultra's biggest standout features is its sound quality. Unlike the Streaming Stick, it includes Dolby Atmos sound for a completely cinematic viewing experience.

Roku Streaming Stick 4K

The Roku Streaming Stick 4K is even easier to set up than the Roku Ultra. 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 simple steps to finish your setup.

The remote for the Roku Streaming Stick 4K is your standard Roku remote (they're all largely the same), and it includes a voice-activated button. Like the Roku Ultra, the Roku Streaming Stick works with Alexa, Siri, and Google Assistant. It includes all the control buttons you need, in addition to shortcuts to favorite apps, but it doesn't include hands-free controls like the Pro remote for the Roku Ultra. You can also control your stick via the Roku remote app.

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.

Surprisingly, the Streaming Stick 4K doesn't sacrifice picture quality with its size, either. Depending on your TV, you can view shows and movies in up to 2160p, just as you can with the Roku Ultra. You just won't get the same sound quality with the Streaming Stick 4K. You will also sacrifice some speed and convenience as the Streaming Stick 4K has slightly lower Wi-Fi speed and range, and its remote is not rechargeable.

In terms of titles, the devices are a trade-off. With both the Roku Ultra and the Roku Streaming Stick 4K, you'll get all the same movies and TV shows since both are within the Roku family. Roku is packed with plenty of streaming goodness, including your favorite apps like Netflix, Hulu, Amazon Prime Video, HBO Max, Disney+, Apple TV+, and more.

With all these streaming apps, you have access to Oscar-winning movies, Emmy-winning TV shows, documentaries, reality TV, and everything in between. As long as you have a subscription to these services, you can install the apps on your Roku and start streaming. You can also download a variety of music apps, such as Pandora, iHeartRadio, Spotify, and more.

What makes Roku particularly unique is the Roku Channel, which is included on both devices. This is Roku's hub for free TV and movies, which means there's plenty to stream at no charge -- 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, its lineup changes from time to time. 

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 CBS Sports, Crackle, The CW, NBC News, PBS, Pluto TV, and more.      

Our Final Take

For cord cutters looking for a simple device, the Roku Streaming Stick 4K is a fine option. You'll get the same titles and picture quality as you would with the Roku Ultra at a lower price point.

With that said, the Roku Ultra does offer a slightly better all-around viewing experience by adding Dolby Atmos sound and better Wi-Fi speed and range. Its rechargeable, hands-free remote is a nice bonus, too. Ultimately, the Roku Ultra might not be worth twice as much as the Streaming Stick 4K, but it's a great deal if you can find one on sale.