How to reset your Roku streaming device if it’s not functioning properly

pregnant woman and dog setting up TV
There’s several ways to restart or reset a Roku device that’s acting up.

  • You can reset your Roku streaming device with a simple restart or a more permanent factory reset.
  • To restart a Roku, go to the Settings menu, unplug the power cord, or use your remote.
  • To factory reset a Roku, you can use Settings or find the reset button on the back of your device.
  • Visit Insider’s Tech Reference library for more stories.

If your Roku streaming device is experiencing glitches or not performing the way it’s supposed to, you can reset it in a few different ways.

First, you should try restarting your Roku, as this soft reset does not erase any of your settings or log you out of your channels. In many cases, this will fix channels or apps that are repeatedly freezing or crashing.

Then, if the problem persists, you can perform a factory reset, which is a more holistic solution that restores your device to its original settings.

Here’s how to restart your Roku, or perform a factory reset.

How to restart a Roku device

You can restart your Roku from the Settings menu, or do a forced reboot by pressing a series of buttons on your Roku remote or unplugging the Roku power cord.

To restart your Roku from Settings:

1. From the “Home” menu, scroll down to the “Settings” menu.

2. Select the “Settings” menu by pressing “OK” on the remote.

rokuz3
Select “Settings.”

3. Scroll down to select the “System” option. Press “OK” on your remote to open the menu.

roku4
Select “System” at the bottom of the list.

4. Scroll down to the “System restart” option and press “OK” on your remote.

roku5
Select “System restart.”

5. Select “Restart.” Your device will shut off, then turn on again. You will see the bouncing Roku logo while the device is booting up.

roku6
Choose “Restart” and your device should begin shutting down.

To reboot your Roku if it’s frozen:

If your Roku encounters a more serious glitch, it may freeze and block you from navigating the menus. In that case, you’ll need to press a series of buttons on your remote control to trigger a reboot.

1. Press the “Home” button five times.

2. Press the “Up” arrow once.

3. Press the “Rewind” button twice.

4. Press the “Fast Forward” button two times.

roku8
These are all the buttons you’ll need to press on your remote.

5. After pressing the buttons in this order, your Roku will eventually turn off. After a few seconds, you should see the bouncing Roku logo, and your home screen will return soon after.

If you find you need to restart your device often for it to function properly, you could be experiencing issues with one of your installed channel apps, or the device itself. You can try deleting and re-installing any newly installed channel apps. Contact Roku support if you continually experience issues with your device.

How to factory reset a Roku device

When you factory reset your Roku, it will be set back to its original state. There are two methods to reset your Roku: selecting the reset option in the Settings menu, or pressing the reset button on the back of the device.

To factory reset your Roku from Settings:

1. Use the “Home” button on your Roku remote to jump to the home screen.

2. Navigate to the Settings menu by scrolling up or down until you find it.

3. Press “Ok” on your Roku remote to select “Settings.”

4. Choose “System” from the available menu items.

5. Choose “Advanced system settings.”

rokuz
Scroll to and select “Advanced system settings.”

6. Select “Factory reset” from the available menu items.

7. When prompted, choose “Factory reset everything” and follow the reset wizard’s on-screen instructions.

To factory reset your Roku with the hardware reset button or pinhole reset:

Every Roku device comes with a hardware reset option. Newer devices will have a hardware reset button, while older devices will have a pinhole for resetting.

1. Locate the reset option on the outside of your Roku device. It will either be a tactile button or a pinhole button.

roku reset
Find the reset button on your Roku.

2. Press and hold the button for 10-20 seconds. If your device has a pinhole reset, you’ll need to use an object like a paperclip or bobby pin to press and hold the button.

3. Most Roku devices have an indicator light that will blink rapidly once the reset is complete.

What happens after you reset a Roku

After your device has been reset, it should boot up to the home screen. If you’re not selling the device or returning it, but instead looking to use the device again, you’ll need to reconnect to your home network.

roku7
Log back onto your “Network” in Settings.

Once you’re connected, log in to your Roku account on your computer or from your mobile device to relink it to your account. Your Roku channels will begin downloading after the device has been added to your Roku account. You’ll need to log in to all your channel apps again.

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Is Peacock on Roku? Yes, here’s how to get NBC’s streaming service on any Roku device

friends watching tv streaming at home
It’s easy to download Peacock on your Roku device and begin watching thousands of shows and movies.

  • To get Peacock TV on Roku, sign up for an account on the web and then download the channel onto your Roku.
  • You can watch Peacock for free, or sign up for a Premium subscription for $4.99 per month.
  • Peacock offers a wide assortment of shows from NBCUniversal, including “Saturday Night Live” and “The Office.”
  • Visit Insider’s Tech Reference library for more stories.

Peacock TV is NBC’s new streaming service, which offers thousands of hours of TV shows and movies.

If you have a Roku streaming device, you’ll be pleased to know that Peacock is available on Roku. You can stream the free version of Peacock or its paid subscription service, which offers even more content. Even the free version of Peacock offers more than 30 channels of content to choose from.

How to watch Peacock and stream your favorite NBC shows like ‘The Office’How to watch Peacock TV for free, including the first seasons of ‘The Office’How to make a Peacock account to stream ‘The Office’ and other NBC showsHow to get rid of ads on Peacock so you can watch ‘The Office’ and other NBC shows without interruption

Read the original article on Business Insider

How to reset and re-pair a Roku remote if it’s not working

GettyImages 1204852519
Some Roku remotes need to be reset if they’re not working properly.

  • You can reset your Roku enhanced remote if it’s not working by accessing the remote’s reset button.
  • If your Roku remote is the standard infrared version, there’s no reset option – just replace the batteries.
  • If you want to pair your remote to a new device, you must first reset it.
  • Visit Insider’s Tech Reference library for more stories.

All Roku media players come with a simple but effective remote control. Though the remote isn’t essential – you can also control your Roku via a smartphone app on your iPhone or Android device – it’s pretty convenient.

But if your Roku remote isn’t working, you might need to reset it. You can also reset the remote if you want to use it on a different Roku player.

Here’s how to do it.

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The 6 best media streaming sticks and devices in 2021

  • A streaming device can transform your TV into a smart display with access to popular services.
  • Our top pick is the Roku Ultra thanks to its large library of apps, 4K support, and smooth navigation.

The world is changing. Gone are the days when a cable subscription was required to watch all the latest TV series. These days, you can find plenty of quality shows on streaming platforms. Of course, the best way to watch these services is on a TV, and there are plenty of devices out there to help you stream your favorites on the display of your choice. Before buying a specific player, however, you’ll want to consider a few things.

First, it’s important to ensure that the streaming device you pick includes support for the apps you use the most. The most popular services, like Netflix and Disney Plus, are supported on virtually all streaming players, but some services are missing from certain devices.

Next up, you’ll want to keep in mind the specs of your TV. Not all streaming sticks and boxes are able to handle 4K resolution or HDR playback, so if you have a 4K TV, you’ll want to get one that can stream 4K videos; the reverse is also true, as a non-4K TV won’t be able to take advantage of 4K playback.

Last but not least, it might be worth considering the ecosystem you’re most plugged into. For example, Android users might be able to get more use from an Android TV or Google TV device, while those using an iPhone or Mac might prefer the Apple TV.

Through research and testing we’ve picked the best streaming sticks and boxes you can buy to turn your dumb TV into a smart one.

Note: All of the below products require access to the internet over Wi-Fi or Ethernet in order to stream content.

Here are the best streaming boxes and sticks:

The best streaming box overall

Roku Ultra 2020 angle

The Roku Ultra streams in 4K and HDR, has voice search, and comes with a remote control that has programmable shortcut buttons.

Pros: 4K HDR streaming, Dolby Vision and Bluetooth, voice remote, lots of apps, improved Wi-Fi connection, Ethernet, USB port

Cons: Doesn’t support HDR10+, a bit pricey

The Roku Ultra has virtually everything a buyer could want out of streaming box. It supports 4K video at 60 frames per second and HDR playback. If you have a 4K TV, this model will help you get the most out of your display.

The Roku OS features a huge library of streaming channels with access to all of the major services, including Netflix, Disney Plus, Hulu, Peacock, Amazon Prime, Apple TV Plus, Paramount Plus, and HBO Max. Just connect the box to your TV via the HDMI port, and install all your favorite streaming services to get started.

As mentioned, the Roku Ultra supports HDR, which means that it’ll show richer colors and better contrast when playing back HDR-enabled videos on a compatible TV. The lastest Roku Ultra model also adds support for the advanced Dolby Vision format, which should improve HDR quality even more on Dolby Vision displays. 

Of course, to take advantage of 4K content, you’ll need a decent internet connection. The device can connect to your internet through Ethernet or over Wi-Fi, so choose the method that’s fastest and most convenient.

The Ultra also comes with a voice remote so you can adjust the volume and search for content with your voice. If you’re watching at night, you can plug in a set of headphones to the remote to not disturb others — a pair of earbuds are included. 

Bluetooth support is included as well for streaming music to the player, and the Roku Ultra even supports AirPlay 2 and HomeKit for easy connectivity to Apple devices. 

The Roku Ultra is the most versatile and reliable media player in this price range, and we like that it’s the most universal of the products. There are cheaper alternatives with less advanced features, but we think this model is the best choice for most people with a 4K TV.  

The best budget streaming box

Roku Express

The Roku Express is one of the most affordable streaming boxes you can buy, and it offers a great interface with basic HD playback.

Pros: Cheap, compact design, easy-to-use, built-in OS

Cons: No 4K or HDR, no voice remote

For buyers who want a simple and inexpensive streaming solution, the Roku Express is the perfect fit. This model is about as basic as they come, but for the money, you’re still getting a capable HD streaming box with a built-in user interface and remote.

Perhaps the best thing about the Roku Express is how easy it is to use. The new compact design makes it one of the smallest standalone streaming boxes there is, and the package comes complete with an HDMI cable for simple setup. The interface is well-designed and extremely easy to navigate with access to all the major services you could want.

Of course, there are downsides to the Roku Express. Unlike the Roku Ultra, which is our overall favorite, this model lacks a voice remote, and it’s missing a USB port for playing external video files or Bluetooth for music streaming from a smartphone. The Roku Express also does not offer 4K streaming or HDR, so we recommend this model for people who have a TV that doesn’t include those features.

For buyers who do need 4K on a budget, though, there’s a very similar Roku model, the Roku Premiere, that might be a better fit for you. The Roku Premiere is a lot like the Roku Express, but it adds support for 4K, HDR, and AirPlay for a bit more money.

That said, the Premiere is sometimes on sale for the same price as the Express. When the Premiere is discounted, it’s actually the better value of the two. If there are no deals, however, and all you need is basic HD streaming, there’s little reason to pay extra for a model more powerful than the Roku Express.

The best high-end streaming box

4k_screen_and_appletv

The Apple TV 4K is an ideal streaming player for enthusiasts who want easy integration with the rest of Apple’s products.

Pros: Well-designed interface, 4K and HDR with Dolby Vision support, can serve as a HomeKit hub

Cons: A little pricey

If you’re looking for a device to better integrate with your iTunes account, iPhone, and other Apple devices, then you’ll want to look into getting an Apple TV. The Apple TV 4K boasts a number of great features, and as the name suggests, this version streams in 4K and HDR, which is great for those of you who have 4K TVs and want the best home theater playback.

As you would expect from an Apple product, it’s well-designed and will look right at home amongst your other entertainment devices. On the back, you’ll get a power input, HDMI port, and an Ethernet port. That way, you can have a more stable internet connection for streaming 4K video.

One of the best things about the Apple TV 4K is Apple’s tvOS operating system, which is super easy to use, especially with the included Siri Remote. As mentioned, it can stream in 4K and has HDR support for improved contrast and colors. Like the Roku Ultra, the Apple TV 4K also offers Dolby Vision for better HDR performance on select services and TVs. 

And with Siri, you can use your voice to search for content. Plus, you can access music, podcasts, games, and hundreds of apps, or cast or mirror content from an iOS or macOS device using AirPlay wireless technology. In addition, the Apple TV 4K can even serve as a HomeKit hub for Apple’s smart home ecosystem.

The Siri Remote connects to the Apple TV via Bluetooth, so no line of sight is required. While the remote is elegant and the touch-capability makes navigation easier, it’s so slim that it can be easy to lose or slip out of your hand. An alternative is to use the Apple TV Remote app on an iPhone, iPod Touch, or iPad, which handles the same functions but makes things like typing much simpler.

On the downside, the Apple TV is notably more expensive than some other streaming options from Roku and Amazon. Most people who aren’t invested in the Apple ecosystem will be more than happy with the less expensive Roku Ultra instead.

We don’t think you can go wrong with either — the deciding factor comes down to budget and the ecosystem — but the money spent on an Apple TV is well worth it.

The best streaming device for Google users

Chromecast with Google TV Lifestyle

Unlike older models, the new Chromecast with Google TV can play apps right from the device, rather than having to rely on casting from a separate smartphone.

Pros: 4K HDR with Dolby Vision and HDR10+, Google Assistant voice remote, built-in interface and casting capabilities

Cons: Some apps are currently missing 4K HDR playback, minor glitches, no Apple TV app

Google’s newest Chromecast model offers a sizable step forward in performance and usability over older versions. Though our previous pick in this category, the Chromecast Ultra, needed a separate phone, tablet, or computer to stream apps from, the Chromecast with Google TV actually features its own built-in interface with an extensive library of services. 

You can still cast apps from a mobile device if you’d like, but the on-screen selection makes it much more convenient to find your favorite shows and movies right on your TV screen. This makes the Chromecast a more worthy competitor to similar compact streaming players, like the Fire TV Stick 4K.

Powered by the new Google TV platform, the Chromecast offers access to a huge collection of apps,. In fact, the only major app currently missing is Apple TV. 4K HDR, Dolby Vision, HDR10+, and Dolby Atmos playback are supported for select services as well.

On the downside, a few key movie apps, like Vudu, FandangoNow, and Movies Anywhere, are currently limited to HD and SDR. This is especially disappointing since these apps do offer 4K HDR playback on other streaming devices, like the Roku Ultra. It’s possible that these apps will receive updates for 4K in the future. 

From a design perspective, the new Chromecast features a similar puck-shaped form factor as older models, complete with a dongle connection that hangs from your TV’s HDMI port. Unlike older models, however, the latest version now includes a handy voice remote with integrated Google Assistant support. 

We encountered a few isolated glitches while testing the new Chromecast, but the device offers impressive value, especially for buyers already invested in Google’s ecosystem.    

The best Amazon Fire TV

Amazon Fire TV Stick 4K

The Amazon Fire TV Stick 4K streams video in 4K straight to your TV.

Pros: 4K streaming, Alexa voice control, affordable, compact, support for HDR10, HDR10+, and Dolby Vision

Cons: Missing a few notable apps like Vudu, FandangoNow, Google Play, and Peacock

Amazon’s Fire TV Stick 4K comes with 4K and HDR playback capabilities, including support for the more advanced HDR10+ and Dolby Vision formats. Like other streaming stick, this slim dongle plugs right into the HDMI port on the back of your TV. It also comes with an Alexa voice remote for easy access to play, pause, stop, volume up/down, and more.

Fire TV 4K works with Netflix, Disney Plus, HBO Max, Prime Video, YouTube, Hulu, and many other video streaming apps. Since it’s part of Amazon’s ecosystem, Fire TV is also compatible with Alexa voice controls on other Amazon products, like an Echo Dot. You can tell Alexa to play “Game of Thrones” without lifting a finger.

The streaming stick has a fast processor and 802.11ac Wi-Fi to ensure smooth streaming on your TV. So long as your Wi-Fi is good, you shouldn’t have a problem.

It’s also very affordable for a 4K streaming stick and includes extensive HDR format support for its price. In fact, it’s one of the only players on the market with HDR10+ capabilities, which will improve color and contrast on Prime Video when watching HDR videos through an HDR10+ TV. 

If you’re buying the device for features like Dolby Vision and Dolby Atmos, however, you might be disappointed by Prime Video’s surprisingly limited support for those formats. A few key apps are also currently missing, including Peacock, Vudu, Google Play, and FandangoNow. If that’s a deal-breaker, you’ll have to grab a Roku, Apple TV, or Android TV player instead.

The best streaming player for gamers

Nvidia Shield TV

The Nvidia Shield TV doesn’t just run Google’s Android TV, it also supports 4K streaming and can even pair with a controller for gaming.

Pros: 4K support, Dolby Vision capabilities, support for a separate gaming controller, Android TV operating system, powerful processor

Cons: Expensive

If you’re more plugged into the Android ecosystem, you might want something that comes preloaded with Google’s Android TV. If so, there are few better devices than the Nvidia Shield TV. Though pricier than other players, the latest model is the ultimate streaming device for buyers who want beefy specs. 

Like our top pick, this media streamer supports 4K HDR with Dolby Vision for even better performance on Dolby Vision TVs. Google Assistant voice control is integrated as well.

The Shield TV is also the best streaming box for gamers. In addition to the included standard remote control, you can add a separate gaming controller for playing games from the Google Play Store or through GeForce Now cloud gaming. 

When it comes to raw specs, the Shield TV incorporates 2GB of RAM and 8GB of storage. The device is powered by the NVIDIA Tegra X1+, which is one of the most powerful processors used in any streaming device. This extra muscle even allows the device to take advantage of advanced upscaling technology, which can make HD videos look better on 4K TVs. 

Unlike most streaming players, the Shield TV features a unique cylindrical design which takes the form of a compact tube that is meant to be placed behind a display. This style won’t be for everyone, but it makes it easy to hide the device out of sight.

For buyers who want even more power, there’s also a Shield TV Pro model to consider. This more expensive version features a more traditional rectangular shape and upgraded specs with 3GB of RAM, 16GB of storage, and two USB 3.0 ports.

The standard Shield TV, however, is still plenty powerful, and is a better overall value for people who want an Android TV streaming player that’s capable of gaming.

Check out our other related buying guides

LG C9 OLED TV

The best streaming services you can sign up for online

After you cut the cord and purchase a streaming player, you’ll have to decide which services you’d like to subscribe to. Popular platforms include Netflix, Disney Plus, Amazon Prime Video, Sling TV, Hulu TV, HBO Max, and more. Each service offers its own selection of content and features can vary between them. With that in mind, we’ve rounded up the best streaming services to help you choose which is best for your needs.


The best music streaming services you can subscribe to

Movies and shows aren’t the only things you can stream online via a media player. Music services are also very popular, offering on-demand access to all your favorite tracks. Spotify, Apple Music, Tidal, Amazon Music Unlimited, and YouTube Music are all great options for different needs. With that in mind, we’ve detailed which music services are right for different buyers.


The best cheap TVs

TV performance and smart connectivity can differ a lot between models, especially when you’re shopping on a budget. After testing and researching several TVs, we’ve picked the best affordable models you can buy.

Read the original article on Business Insider

Media faces upheaval – and deal opportunity

Hi and welcome to this weekly edition of Insider Advertising, where I break down the big media and advertising stories.

It’s also our last newsletter until Dec. 30. But you can always sign up here to get this newsletter in your inbox daily.

This week: Media deals heat up, tensions at Roku, and big tech privacy battles.

Ben Lerer
Ben Lerer

What’s next for media M&A 

The pandemic and rise of streaming video have wreaked havoc on the media and ad industries – and also paved the way for a lot of deal-making:


FILE PHOTO A video sign displays the logo for Roku Inc, a Fox-backed video streaming firm, in Times Square after the company's IPO at the Nasdaq Market in New York, U.S., September 28, 2017. REUTERS/Brendan McDermid
FILE PHOTO A video sign displays the logo for Roku Inc, a Fox-backed video streaming firm, in Times Square after the company’s IPO at the Nasdaq Market in New York

Tensions at Roku

It’s been a transformative year for Roku, which has gone a small-but-mighty maker of streaming boxes to aggressively growing a TV platform business.

But as Ashley Rodriguez writes, its shift from a pure-tech player to an ad-driven business has come at a price.

Roku’s move into advertising has led to public spats with streamers like NBCUniversal’s Peacock and WarnerMedia’s HBO Max, riled some publishers, and irked some of its tech-side employees.

Read the details here: Roku insiders detail how it beat out Amazon and Google to dominate streaming TV and expand its ad business, but created new challenges and rankled some partners


Sundar Pichai
Alphabet CEO Sundar Pichai

Google, Facebook, privacy battles 

The tech giants’ jockeying to position themselves as the most pro-privacy is resulting in some very public spats.

  • Google has come under scrutiny for dominating in digital advertising, search, and how the web itself looks, Shona Ghosh reported. Critics’ central complaint has to do with Google’s features that potentially threatens people’s personal information.
  • Facebook for its part is battling Apple over its anti-ad tracking plans, saying they’ll harm small businesses as well as its own ad revenue. (Facebook meanwhile is expanding tools to protect high-profile users’ accounts)

One short-term beneficiary of all this: The publishers getting ad dollars from Facebook’s lobbying effort.


Other stories we’re reading:

Happy holidays, and I’ll see you in the New Year!

– Lucia

 

Read the original article on Business Insider

The best media streaming sticks and devices

  • A streaming device can transform your so-called dumb TV into a smart one that plays shows and movies from Disney Plus, Netflix, Hulu, Prime Video, and other streaming services.
  • The best of the bunch is the Roku Ultra with its easy-to-use interface, 4K video streaming, HDR support, voice control, and simple remote.

The world is changing. Gone are the days when a cable subscription was necessary to watch all the latest and greatest TV series. These days, you can find plenty of quality shows on streaming platforms, like Disney Plus, ESPN+, Netflix, Hulu, and Amazon Prime Video. Of course, the best way to watch these services is on a TV, and there are plenty of devices out there to help you stream your favorites on the display of your choice. Before buying a specific streaming player, however, you’ll want to consider a few things.

For starters, it’s important to ensure that the streaming device you pick includes support for the apps you use the most. The most popular services, like Netflix and Disney Plus, are supported on virtually all streaming players. With that said, some apps, like Peacock, are currently missing from certain devices, including Fire TV products. 

Next up, you’ll want to keep in mind the specs of your TV. Not all streaming sticks and boxes are able to handle 4K content or HDR playback, so if you have a 4K TV, you’ll want to get one that can stream 4K videos; the reverse is also true, as a non-4K TV won’t be able to take advantage of 4K playback.

Last but not least, it might be worth considering the ecosystem you’re most plugged into. For example, Android users might be able to get more use from an Android TV or Google TV device, while those using an iPhone and Mac might prefer the Apple TV.

Through research and testing we’ve picked the best streaming sticks and boxes you can buy to turn your dumb TV into a smart one. 

Note: All of the below products require access to the internet over Wi-Fi or Ethernet in order to stream content. 

Here are the best streaming boxes and sticks:

Prices and links are current as of 12/17/2020. Added details about the launch of HBO Max on Roku devices. Updated by Steven Cohen.

The best streaming box overall

Roku Ultra 2020 angle

The Roku Ultra streams in 4K and HDR, has voice search, and comes with a remote control that has programmable shortcut buttons.

Roku’s Ultra has virtually everything a buyer could want out of streaming box. It supports 4K video at 60 frames per second and HDR playback. If you have a 4K TV, this model will help you get the most out of your display.

Roku doesn’t require a Google or Apple account to use (you will need to register for a Roku account, however), but it can still connect to a huge library of streaming services. You’ll be able to install Netflix, Disney Plus, Hulu, Peacock, Amazon Prime, Apple TV Plus, and more using Roku’s operating system. It even supports HBO Max, which was previously missing from the channel selection. Just connect the box to your TV via the HDMI port, and install all your favorite streaming services to get started.

As mentioned, the Roku Ultra supports HDR, which means that it’ll show richer colors and better contrast when playing back HDR-enabled videos on an HDR TV. The new 2020 Roku Ultra model also adds support for the advanced Dolby Vision format, which should improve HDR picture quality even more on Dolby Vision-enabled displays. 

Of course, to take advantage of 4K HDR content, you’ll need a decent internet connection. The device can connect to your internet through Ethernet or over Wi-Fi, so choose the method that’s fastest and most convenient.

The Ultra also comes with a voice remote control so you can adjust the volume, turn on your TV, and search for content with your voice. If you’re watching at night, you can plug in a set of headphones to the remote to not disturb others — a pair of earbuds are included. Roku also has a companion app that makes navigation and searches even more robust.

Bluetooth support is included as well for streaming music to the player, and the Roku Ultra even supports AirPlay 2 and HomeKit for easy connectivity to Apple devices. 

The Roku Ultra is the most versatile and reliable media player in this price range, and we like that it’s the most universal of the products. There are cheaper alternatives with less advanced features, but we think this model is the best choice for most people with a 4K TV.  

Pros: 4K and HDR streaming, new 2020 model adds Dolby Vision support and Bluetooth, voice remote, lots of apps, improved Wi-Fi connection, Ethernet, USB port

Cons: Doesn’t support HDR10+, a bit pricey

The best budget streaming box

Roku Express

The Roku Express is one of the most affordable streaming boxes you can buy, and it offers a great interface with basic HD playback.

For buyers who want a simple and inexpensive streaming solution, the Roku Express is the perfect fit. This model is about as basic as they come, but for the money, you’re still getting a capable HD streaming box with a built-in user interface and remote.

Perhaps the best thing about the Roku Express is how easy it is to use. The new compact design makes it one of the smallest standalone streaming boxes there is, and the package comes complete with an HDMI cable for simple setup. The interface is well-designed and extremely easy to navigate.

Since it uses a built-in operating system, you can install apps like Netflix without having to stream from your phone or computer (you will need to register for a Roku account if you don’t have one already). A remote control is included for navigation, but you can also use the Roku app.

Of course, there are downsides to the Roku Express. Unlike the Roku Ultra, which is our overall favorite, there’s no USB port for playing external video files or Bluetooth for music streaming from a smartphone. The Roku Express also does not offer 4K streaming or HDR, so we recommend this model for people who have a TV that doesn’t include those features.

For buyers who do need 4K on a budget, though, there’s a very similar Roku model, the Roku Premiere, that might be a better fit for you. The Roku Premiere is a lot like the Roku Express, but it adds support for 4K, HDR, and AirPlay for a bit more money.

That said, the Premiere is sometimes on sale for less than the Express. When the Premiere is discounted, it’s actually the better value of the two. If there are no discounts, however, and all you need is basic HD streaming, there’s little reason to pay extra for a model more powerful than the Roku Express.

Pros: Cheap, compact design, easy-to-use, built-in OS

Cons: No 4K or HDR, no voice remote

The best high-end streaming box

4k_screen_and_appletv

The Apple TV 4K is an ideal streaming player for enthusiasts who want Dolby Vision support and easy integration with the rest of Apple’s products.

If you’re looking for a device to better integrate with your iTunes account, iPhone, and other Apple devices, then you’ll want to look into getting an Apple TV. The Apple TV 4K boasts a number of great features, and as the name suggests, this version streams in 4K and HDR, which is great for those of you who have 4K TVs and want the best home theater playback.

As you would expect from an Apple device, it’s well-designed and will look right at home amongst your other home entertainment devices, even the more premium ones. On the back of the device, you’ll get a power input, HDMI port, and an Ethernet port. That way, you can have a more stable internet connection for streaming 4K video.

One of the best things about the Apple TV 4K is Apple’s tvOS operating system, which is super easy to use, especially with the included remote (called the Siri Remote). As mentioned, it can stream in 4K and has HDR support for improved contrast and colors. Unlike Roku’s players, the Apple TV 4K also offers Dolby Vision support on top of standard HDR10. If you have a Dolby Vision TV, this means you’ll get even better HDR performance when watching Dolby Vision titles from apps like Disney Plus and Apple TV Plus. 

And with Siri, you can use your voice to search for content. Plus, you can access music, podcasts, games, and hundreds of apps, or cast or mirror content from an iOS or macOS device using AirPlay wireless technology. In addition, the Apple TV 4K can even serve as a HomeKit hub for Apple’s smart home ecosystem.

The Siri Remote connects to the Apple TV via Bluetooth, so no line of sight is required. While the remote is elegant and the touch-capability makes navigation easier, it’s so slim that it can be easy to lose or slip out of your hand. An alternative is to use the Apple TV Remote app on an iPhone, iPod Touch, or iPad, which handles the same functions but makes things like typing much simpler.

Engadget called it “almost perfect,” while CNET called it the most high-end 4K streaming experience. However, the Apple TV is notably more expensive than some other streaming options from Roku and Amazon. Most people who aren’t invested in the Apple ecosystem will be more than happy with the less expensive Roku Ultra instead.

Guides Editor Les Shu disagrees somewhat. He uses both the Roku Ultra and Roku Express+ and Apple TV, and finds the Apple TV experience much smoother and more pleasant than the Roku Ultra — not to mention the easier set-up process. While he acknowledges the price premium and that the Roku Ultra has its advantages, from a pure entertainment experience, he believes the Apple TV is the stronger product, and that it isn’t just for Apple fans with money.

We don’t think you can go wrong with either — the deciding factor comes down to budget and the ecosystem — but the money spent on an Apple TV is well worth it.

Pros: Well-designed, great interface, 4K and HDR playback with Dolby Vision support, can serve as a HomeKit hub

Cons: A little pricey

The best for Google users

Chromecast with Google TV Lifestyle

Unlike older models, the new Chromecast with Google TV can play apps right from the device, rather than having to rely on casting from a separate smartphone.

Google’s newest Chromecast model offers a sizable step forward in performance and usability over older versions. Though our previous pick in this category, the Chromecast Ultra, needed a separate phone, tablet, or computer to stream apps from, the Chromecast with Google TV actually features its own built-in interface with an extensive library of services. 

You can still cast apps from a mobile device if you’d like, but the on-screen selection makes it much more convenient to find your favorite shows and movies right on your TV screen. This makes the Chromecast a more worthy competitor to similar compact streaming players, like the Fire TV Stick 4K.

Powered by the new Google TV platform, the Chromecast offers access to a huge collection of apps, including Netflix, Disney Plus, Prime Video, Hulu, HBO Max, Peacock, YouTube, and more. In fact, the only major app currently missing is Apple TV. 4K HDR, Dolby Vision, HDR10+, and Dolby Atmos playback are supported for select services as well.

On the downside, a few key movie apps, like Vudu, FandangoNow, and Movies Anywhere, are currently limited to HD and SDR. This is especially disappointing since these apps do offer 4K HDR playback on other streaming devices, like the Roku Ultra. It’s possible that these apps will receive updates for 4K in the future. 

From a design perspective, the new Chromecast features a similar puck-shaped form factor as older models, complete with a dongle connection that hangs from your TV’s HDMI port. Unlike older models, however, the latest version now includes a handy voice remote with integrated Google Assistant support. The Chromecast’s Google Assistant also provides seamless integration with other Google devices. For example, you can control Google speakers or tell your Chromecast to display security camera footage from a Nest camera.

We encountered a few isolated glitches while testing the new Chromecast, but the device offers impressive overall performance and value, especially for buyers already invested in Google’s ecosystem.    

Pros: 4K HDR support with Dolby Vision and HDR10+, Google Assistant voice remote, built-in interface and casting capabilities

Cons: Some apps are currently missing 4K HDR playback, minor glitches, no Apple TV app

The best Amazon Fire TV

Amazon Fire TV Stick 4K

The Amazon Fire TV Stick 4K streams video in 4K straight to your TV.

Amazon’s Fire TV Stick 4K comes with 4K and HDR playback capabilities, including support for the more advanced HDR10+ and Dolby Vision formats. Like other streaming stick, this slim dongle plugs right into the HDMI port on the back of your TV. It also comes with an Alexa voice remote for easy access to play, pause, stop, volume up/down, and more.

Fire TV 4K works with Netflix, Disney Plus, HBO Max, Prime Video, YouTube, Hulu, and many other video streaming apps. Since it’s part of Amazon’s ecosystem, Fire TV is also compatible with Alexa voice controls on other Amazon products, like an Echo Dot. You can tell Alexa to play “Game of Thrones” without lifting a finger. If you don’t have Alexa products or you’re not an Amazon user, you may be better off with a different brand.

The streaming stick has a fast processor and 802.11ac Wi-Fi to ensure smooth streaming on your TV. So long as your Wi-Fi is good, you shouldn’t have a problem.

Expert reviewers more or less agreed that Alexa voice search works well. It’s also very affordable for a 4K streaming stick and includes extensive HDR format support for its price. In fact, it’s one of the only players on the market with HDR10+ capabilities, which will improve color and contrast on Prime Video when watching HDR videos through an HDR10+ compatible TV. 

If you’re buying the device for features like Dolby Vision and Dolby Atmos, however, you might be disappointed by Amazon’s surprisingly limited support for those formats through its own catalog of Prime content. A few key apps are also currently missing, including Peacock, Vudu, Google Play, and FandangoNow. If that’s a deal-breaker, you’ll have to grab a Roku, Apple TV, or Android TV player.

Pros: 4K streaming, Alexa voice control, affordable, compact, support for HDR10, HDR10+, and Dolby Vision

Cons: Missing a few notable apps like Vudu, FandangoNow, Google Play, and Peacock

The best for gamers and Android TV

Nvidia Shield TV

The Nvidia Shield TV doesn’t just run Google’s Android TV, it also supports 4K streaming and can even pair with a controller for gaming.

If you’re more plugged into the Android ecosystem, you might want something that comes preloaded with Google’s Android TV. If so, there are few better devices than the Nvidia Shield TV, which was first launched a few years ago and has been updated a few times since then. Though pricier than other players, the latest model is the ultimate streaming device for buyers who want beefy specs. 

Like our top pick, this media streamer supports 4K HDR content, but also adds Dolby Vision for even better HDR performance on Dolby Vision TVs. Google Assistant voice control is integrated as well and, unlike the cheaper Chromecast Ultra, this is a standalone product that doesn’t require a phone.

The Shield TV is also the best streaming box for gamers. In addition to the included standard remote control, you can add a separate gaming controller for playing games from the Google Play Store or through GeForce Now cloud gaming. 

When it comes to raw specs, the Shield TV incorporates 2GB of RAM and 8GB of storage. The device is powered by the NVIDIA Tegra X1+, which is one of the most powerful processors used in any streaming device. This extra muscle even allows the device to take advantage of advanced upscaling technology, which can make HD videos look better on 4K TVs. 

Unlike most streaming players, the Shield TV features a unique cylindrical design which takes the form of a compact tube that is meant to be placed behind a display. This style won’t be for everyone, but it makes it easy to hide the device out of sight.

For buyers who want even more power, there’s also a Shield TV Pro model to consider. This more expensive version features a more traditional rectangular shape and upgraded specs with 3GB of RAM, 16GB of storage, and two USB 3.0 ports.

The standard Shield TV, however, is still plenty powerful, and is a better overall value for people who want an Android TV streaming player that’s capable of gaming.

Pros: 4K support, Dolby Vision capabilities, support for a separate gaming controller, Android TV operating system, powerful processor

Cons: Expensive

Check out our other related buying guides

LG C9 OLED TV

The best streaming services you can sign up for online

After you cut the cord and purchase a streaming player, you’ll have to decide which services you’d like to subscribe to. Popular platforms include Netflix, Disney Plus, Apple TV Plus Amazon Prime Video, Sling TV, Hulu TV, HBO Now, and more. Each service offers its own selection of content and features can vary between them. With that in mind, we’ve rounded up the best streaming services to help you choose which is best for your needs.


The best music streaming services you can subscribe to

Movies and shows aren’t the only things you can stream online via a media player. Music services are also very popular, offering on-demand access to all your favorite tracks. Spotify, Apple Music, Tidal, Amazon Music Unlimited, and YouTube Music are all great options for different needs. With that in mind, we’ve detailed which music services are right for different buyers.


The best 4K TVs

4K Ultra HD TVs are available in many sizes for a variety of budgets. Picture performance and smart connectivity can differ a lot between models, however, especially when it comes to high dynamic range support. After testing and researching several 4K TVs, we’ve picked the best models you can buy.

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How to get VLC on a Roku device by mirroring the media player in 2 different ways

roku remote
You can mirror VLC on a Roku in a few simple steps.

  • You can get VLC on Roku by mirroring the VLC player from an Android device or Windows computer.
  • VLC is a popular media player for many platforms, but it’s not available for direct download on Roku.
  • Here’s how to set up and mirror your Android or Windows device to a Roku player.
  • Visit Business Insider’s Tech Reference library for more stories.

VLC (VideoLAN Client) is a popular open-source media player for a variety of platforms including Windows and Android devices. Unfortunately, Roku is not one of VLC’s supported devices, so there is no direct way to install or use the VLC player on a Roku TV or media player. However, you can get VLC on a Roku by mirroring content from your Android phone or from your Windows computer. 

Before you begin, make sure that screen mirroring is enabled on your Roku device. To do that, follow the instructions in the first section of our article on mirroring to a Roku device, under “How to set up Roku for mirroring.”

Then make sure that VLC is installed on the device you plan to mirror – you can install VLC on your Android device or VLC on Windows

How to get VLC on Roku by mirroring from Windows

1. Install the VLC app on Windows, then launch. 

2. Click the Notification icon at the bottom right of the Windows desktop. 

3. If needed to see all the icons, click “Expand.” Then find and click “Connect.”

How_to_get_VLC_on_Roku 1
Click “Connect” from the Notification icon on the desktop.

4. In the pane that pops out of the right side of the desktop, find and select your Roku device.

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Select your Roku device when it appears.

5. On the TV, use the Roku remote to select “Allow.” 

How to get VLC on Roku 3
Be sure to allow the content from your PC to appear on the Roku.

Your PC should now be mirrored on the Roku. Open the VLC Player app – its contents should be displayed on the TV. 

How to get VLC on Roku by mirroring from Android

1. Install the VLC app on your Android.

2. You can mirror to Roku from almost any Android device, but the name of the mirror feature varies depending on which Android device you are using. In general, you can find it by swiping down from the top of the screen to display the quick-access icons (or open Settings and select “Connection and sharing”). Some of the names that this feature goes by includes Cast, Screen Cast, Smart View, Quick Connect, HTC Connect, and Smart Share. Find the casting feature for your phone and tap it. 

How_to_get_VLC_on_Roku 4
Start casting from your phone. On this Samsung Galaxy, the feature is called “Smart View,” but the name will vary from phone to phone.

3. Make sure you enable casting. Look for your Roku to appear in the list of devices and then tap it. You might need to confirm you want to do this. 

How to get VLC on Roku 5
Select the Roku device when you see it.

4. On the TV, use the Roku remote to select “Allow.” 

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Allow the Roku to mirror your phone, and you can access VLC from your Roku.

Your Android phone’s screen should now be mirrored on the Roku. Open the VLC Player app and watch the mirrored videos on your TV screen.

Related coverage from Tech Reference:

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How to use AirPlay on a Roku player to stream content from an Apple device

woman watching tv looking through content on phone
It’s easy to stream music, movies, and shows from your Apple device to your Roku with AirPlay.

  • You can use AirPlay to stream content to your Roku from an Apple device.
  • AirPlay and Roku are compatible on most media apps, like Hulu, Amazon Prime Video, Spotify, Apple Music, and more.
  • Before you use AirPlay, make sure your Apple device and Roku device are connected to the same Wi-Fi network, and check that your Roku TV has AirPlay turned on. 
  • Visit Business Insider’s Tech Reference library for more stories.

AirPlay, a useful casting feature on Apple products, allows you to cast media from your Apple device to many different Roku models. That means that you can display videos, photos, and other media on your TV, even if the casting feature isn’t working or isn’t available.

Not every Roku device supports AirPlay. If you want to use it, you’ll need a supported model:

  • Roku TV models Axxxx, Cxxxx, CxxGB, or 7xxxx
  • Streambar model 9102
  • Smart Soundbar models 9100 or 9101
  • Roku Ultra models 4640, 4660, 4662, 4661, 4670, or 4800
  • Roku Premiere models 3820, 4620, or 4630
  • Streaming Stick models 3810 or 3811

Of course, you’ll also need an Apple device that supports AirPlay, which is any iPhone, iPad, or iTouch running iOS 12.3 or later, or any Mac computer running MacOS Mojave 10.14.5 or later.

How to use AirPlay on your Roku

1. Make sure your Apple device is connected to the same Wi-Fi network as your Roku TV.

2. Check that AirPlay is turned on on your Roku device:

  • In the Roku home menu, scroll down to Settings.
  • In the Settings menu, scroll down and select “Apple AirPlay and HomeKit.”
How_to_use_Airplay_on_Roku_ _7
Go to “Apple AirPlay and HomeKit.”

  • Ensure that AirPlay is set to “On.”
How_to_use_Airplay_on_Roku_ _9
Set AirPlay to “On.”

3. On your Apple device, find the song, video, photo, podcast, or other media you’d like to stream to your TV. 

4. The next step changes depending on what app you’re trying to stream from. Here are some of the most common examples:

On Spotify:

1. Tap the “Devices” button in the bottom left corner of the screen.

How_to_use_Airplay_on_Roku_ _1
On Spotify, tap the “Devices” icon.

2. In the “Listening On” menu, tap “AirPlay or Bluetooth.”

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Tap “Airplay or Bluetooth.”

3. Tap the name of your Roku TV.

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Tap the name of your TV.

On the Photos app:

1. Tap the “Share” button in the bottom left corner.

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Tap the “Share” button.

2. Scroll down on the Share menu until you see AirPlay, and tap it.

3. Tap the name of your TV in the pop-up.

How_to_use_Airplay_on_Roku_ _5
Scroll down and tap “AirPlay.”

On the Apple Music app:

1. Tap the AirPlay button at the bottom center of the screen (the icon looks like three concentric circles with a triangle underneath).

How_to_use_Airplay_on_Roku_ _6__1_
Tap the AirPlay button at the bottom of the screen.

2. Tap the name of your device.

On Hulu, HBO Max, Amazon Prime Video, and other mobile streaming apps:

1. On the mobile app, begin playing the video you want to watch.

2. Tap the AirPlay icon on the top of the video screen (the icon looks like a square with a triangle underneath it).

hulu airplay
Tap the AirPlay icon.

3. In the pop-up, select your Roku device from the list of compatible AirPlay devices.

Unfortunately, you can no longer use AirPlay to stream content from Netflix

Troubleshooting tips

If you’re having trouble and your Roku device isn’t displaying on the AirPlay menu, try these troubleshooting tips:

  • Make sure your Roku device is one of the models listed at the beginning of this article.
  • Make sure your Apple device is connected to the same Wi-Fi network as your TV.
  • Make sure AirPlay is turned on on your Roku device.

Related coverage from Tech Reference:

Read the original article on Business Insider