If you’ve decided to purchase a set-top streaming box so that you can watch Netflix, Hulu Plus, Amazon Prime, or any of the other video streaming service out there, then you have surely come across the name “Roku.” They’ve been a leader in the industry since before video streaming was very popular, and each new device has been a big step up from the previous one. But now there are many Roku models available, and choosing between them can be a little difficult.
The chart below lists the Roku models in order from the least expensive model (the Roku LT) to the most expensive model (the Roku 3).
Roku 2 XD
|Click for Price||Click for Price||Click for Price||Click for Price|
|Access to all Roku channels||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes|
|Plays 720p video||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes|
|Plays 1080p video||No||No||Yes||Yes|
|Motion control for games||No||No||No||Yes|
|Headphone jack on remote||No||No||No||Yes|
Personal factors to consider
There are a few other models of Rokus available, but the four above are the most popular, and the models currently for sale directly from Roku. They range in price from about $50 for the Roku LT to about $100 for the Roku 3. You can click any of the links above to see the current price for that model at Amazon.
To begin deciding which Roku is right for you situation, you should answer the questions below about your home network and entertainment environment.
What type of TV are you connecting the Roku to? An HDTV with an HDMI port? Or a TV without an HDMI port?
If you have a TV with an HDMI port, then you can purchase any of the Roku models. If you do not, however, then you will need one of the Roku models with the composite video connections, such as the Roku LT, the Roku HD or the Roku XD.
Do you have a wireless network?
If you do not have a wireless network, then you will need to purchase the Roku 3, as it is the only model with an ethernet port. But all of the Roku models above are capable of connecting to a wireless network.
If you do have a wireless network, how is the wireless reception by the TV to which the Roku will be connected?
If the reception is not good near the television, then you may want to get the Roku 3, as its’ dual-band wireless card has a much better range than the other models.
Do you have a lot of video on external hard drives or USB drives?
You will need to buy a Roku model with a USB port if you want to watch this content on your Roku. Currently that is only the Roku 3.
How much are you going to use the Roku?
If this is something that is going to be a primary source of entertainment in your home, then the improved performance, features and capabilities of the Roku 3 are well worth the higher price tag. But if you are just buying it to be able to watch video on a TV in a guest room or in an area that will not be getting a lot of viewing activity, then the lower price tag of the Roku LT will be much easier to justify.
Some additional factors to consider
None of the Rokus come with an HDMI cable. So if you are intending to purchase a Roku to hook up to your HDMI-capable TV, you can purchase a good HDMI cable from Amazon for much less than it would cost at a retail store.
HD video streaming requires a pretty hefty Internet connection, so it is important that your Internet service is capable of streaming video easily. If you can watch movies from Netflix on your computer without a lot of buffering, or if you know that your cable, DSL or fiber-optic Internet service is more than capable of video streaming, then you will be fine.
You will still need to pay the monthly subscription cost for whatever video-streaming services you are currently subscribed to. The Roku merely provides the device and means for watching that content; it does not replace the need to continue paying for it. Note, however, that there is no additional monthly or yearly fee for using a Roku.
You can click any of the links below to learn more about a specific Roku model, as well as read reviews from people that have purchased each of those devices.
We have also written some comparisons of the Roku models, which you can find below.
Matthew Burleigh has been writing tech tutorials since 2008. His writing has appeared on dozens of different websites and been read over 50 million times.
After receiving his Bachelor’s and Master’s degrees in Computer Science he spent several years working in IT management for small businesses. However, he now works full time writing content online and creating websites.
His main writing topics include iPhones, Microsoft Office, Google Apps, Android, and Photoshop, but he has also written about many other tech topics as well.