Roku Express Plus Review 2020: Everything to know about the streaming device

What is Roku Express Plus?

Roku is one of the most popular brands for streaming enthusiasts. Its range of streaming players, TVs, and audio equipment is designed for the ultimate viewing experience, whether you’re a Hulu subscriber or a fuboTV fan. With one device and a Wi-Fi router, you can access most major streaming services, along with thousands of other apps and free live and on-demand content.

Take a look at Roku’s collection, and you’ll see Roku Express+ stands out for its combination of affordability and nifty tech. This teeny-tiny box is one of the cheapest of Roku’s seven streaming players, and it’s also one of the simplest. 

Other devices like Roku Ultra require more cables and connection points to power their advanced capabilities. This is also true of Roku Streaming Stick+. But Roku Express+ has only 2 ports. The only downside is it’s limited to high-definition (HD) streaming. So if you want to watch a movie in 4K, you’ll need to look elsewhere.

The device has changed somewhat in recent times. Previously, it featured A/V ports to transform old TVs into smart TVs. But in 2019, Roku swapped this feature for a jazzy voice-enabled remote. (The enhanced remote is the only difference between Roku Express+ and the original Express model.)

Read on for a full Roku Express Plus review, including how much this uncomplicated streaming device costs and a breakdown of its standout features.

Roku Express Lifestyle

Roku Express+ pricing

The current Roku Express+ is exclusive to Walmart, so you won’t find it anywhere else. You can pick up the device for just $39.

That price is the only fee you’ll pay to use Roku. But there’s a catch. You’ll have to sign up for the relevant subscriptions if you want to access a paid streaming service like Netflix or Philo. These all come with individual monthly fees. However, Roku does feature plenty of free channels, so you don’t have to spend money to stream content.

If you’re looking for the old version of Roku Express+, you’re in luck. Amazon still stocks the analog port model with the old-school white, yellow, and red connectors. But as it has officially been discontinued, you’ll pay a hefty price of $79.99.

Roku Express+ features

A quick setup

Every Roku device is relatively easy to set up, but none more so than Roku Express+. Designed with just 2 connection ports, you can’t go wrong when connecting this device to your TV. One is an HDMI port — simply attach the included high-speed HDMI cable to your HD TV. The other is a USB port needed to power the device. Attach the included USB cable to the power adaptor to connect your Roku Express+ to a wall outlet. Alternatively, plug the USB cable into your TV’s USB port. (Note a wall outlet is often the quicker option — it ensures your Express+ is ready to go whenever you are. Using the TV USB port means it can take around 30 seconds for the device to start up. This option may not work with all TVs.)

Connecting the device to your router is also simple. As soon as you turn your TV on, you’ll be prompted to choose your wireless network. Enter your router’s password, and you’re good to go.

A compact design

Roku Express+ comes in the form of a box — which may conjure up images of a big, clunky device. But that couldn’t be further from the truth. With an all-black casing, it’ll seamlessly blend in with any decor. Plus, it’s tiny. Measuring just 2.8 x 0.8 x 1.5 inches, Roku Express+ is even smaller than the Roku remote. It’s so compact you won’t even notice it’s there. And if you do want to move the device, you won’t struggle to find a new place to house it. On the bottom of Roku Express+ is an adhesive strip that you can remove to firmly stick it to a surface. 

A smart remote

Roku Express+’s remote control is an upgrade from the original Express. It has all the original remote features like home, pause, fast forward, and rewind buttons. Additional keys include shortcut buttons to Hulu, Netflix, Sling TV, and Vudu — saving you plenty of time when streaming. There’s also an instant replay button that will automatically rewind content by 20 seconds — ideal if you missed an important scene or couldn’t quite understand what a character was saying. An even bigger bonus: you can control your TV’s power and volume with the Roku remote. But the most important feature by far is the voice control. Hit the microphone key, and you can use your voice to search for apps, actors, and shows as well as to play and pause content.

Seamless streaming

HD streaming (1080p) is the only available resolution with Roku Express+. You shouldn’t experience any lags and should be able to watch live content with ease. But, due to the HD limit, Roku Express+ is better for smaller screens. If you own a larger TV, you’ll get much more out of one of Roku’s 4K streaming devices.

Tons of content

Every big streaming name is yours to enjoy with Roku Express+. Disney+, Hulu, and Netflix are just 3 of the on-demand services available. For all the live TV you’re used to getting with cable, you can try the likes of Sling TV and YouTube TV. (Each service incurs a monthly cost and has different channel lists.) All in all, there are more than 500,000 movies and TV show episodes to watch via Roku. 

That’s not all Roku Express+ has to offer. There are more than 3,500 apps — or channels, as Roku calls them — to browse. Plenty are free, including The Roku Channel, which offers around 20 live TV channels and hours of on-demand content. Think ABC News, sports from Stadium, and shows like The Bachelorette

To find the best free content, head to Roku’s Featured Free section for a curated guide of titles you can watch without paying a cent. And if you do fancy renting a movie, Roku’s search function will tell you which app offers your chosen title for the lowest price. Handy, right?

A companion app

Roku’s free mobile app works alongside Roku Express+. Why would you need an app when you have a streaming player and a dedicated remote? Well, if you want to watch TV late at night but don’t want to wake up the kids or your partner, the app is vital. Its private listening mode means you can plug your headphones into your phone or tablet and turn up the volume. You can also use the app to add channels to your Roku feed. It also lets you cast photos, music, and videos from your device straight to your TV screen. If that wasn’t impressive enough, the app also allows you to control certain Roku features, like the search function, with your voice. 

The final cut

If you’re new to cord-cutting, the simple setup and easy-to-use interface make Roku Express+ the perfect device. But this small, sleek box isn’t just for recent converts to streaming. Roku Express+ is ideal for cord-cutters looking for a comprehensive product that comes at a competitive price. And it offers access to almost every streaming service and an expansive range of free TV shows. Although it only offers HD playback, its voice-controlled remote is an impressive addition that tends to come with more expensive Roku models. 

The low initial cost is one of Roku Express+’s big advantages, but there are more potential savings than meets the eye. Not only will this device save you from having to buy multiple streaming devices, but it may also reduce the need to invest in an antenna. (The device currently houses more than 100 free local TV networks.) Of course, you’ll probably want to subscribe to a streaming service or two to get the most out of your Express+. But their monthly fees tend to be much lower than regular cable, making this streaming player a cost-effective TV solution.