The Roku Express and Roku Premiere are two of Roku‘s most popular streaming devices. Both tiny boxes sit on your TV stand and are so small that you’ll barely notice them. With affordable prices and the ability to stream content from both on-demand and live TV services (along with music and more), these two Roku models can’t be ignored. But there’s one big difference between them: streaming quality. Read on for everything you need to know about the Roku Express vs. Premiere to help you decide which one’s right for you. For a more in-depth Roku Express review, head here. And don’t forget to check out our explainer of every Roku device.
Roku Express vs. Roku Premiere features and specs
From size and price to compatibility with smart home devices like Amazon Alexa, here’s how the Roku Express and Roku Premiere compare:
|Roku Express||Roku Premiere|
|Dolby Vision support||No||No|
|Google Assistant compatible||Yes||Yes|
|Dimensions||1.5 x 3 x 0.75 inches||1.4 x 3.3 x 0.7 inches|
Roku Express vs. Roku Premiere cost
If you’re looking for Roku’s most affordable device, look no further than the Roku Express. Roku’s cheapest streaming box costs only $29.99. The price is so low that you may not even notice it leaving your bank account.
Roku Premiere, on the other hand, is slightly more expensive at $39.99. However, it does offer greater value due to its 4K streaming capabilities. In fact, you’ll find it difficult to find a cheaper (and more compact) streaming device that can play content in Ultra High Definition (UHD). Head here for everything you need to know about Roku in 4K. And to cut your costs, check out our rundown of the best Roku deals.
Roku Express vs. Roku Premiere interface and personalization
Both the Roku Express and Roku Premiere devices come with identical features and remotes. Roku’s minimalist interface is simple to use, featuring big tiles for each app and content platform. There are more than 3,500 channels to download, including plenty of streaming services such as CBS All Access, Hulu, and Sling TV. Here are the best Roku channels to browse.
Roku’s full operating system also has a few nifty aspects to pay attention to. Head to the homepage’s Featured Free section for a list of cord-cutting resources that won’t cost you a cent. And when you want to search for a particular title, you’ll be happy to hear that Roku uses a universal search function. This means that you won’t have to search every individual service, but instead will see results from every service available on Roku, including paid options that you’re not yet subscribed to.
Scrolling and searching are made simple with the Roku remote. The Roku Express and Roku Premiere both use the same remote, so there’s no competition in that area. With it, you can shortcut your way to some of the most popular streaming services like Disney+, Netflix, and Spotify. But the remote works via infrared (IR) technology, so it will need to be in the line of sight of your TV to work. It also doesn’t include some of the more impressive remote features that accompany pricier Roku devices. For example, you won’t get the ability to use voice control or have a headphone jack for easy late-night private listening sessions. Find out how to use the Roku remote.
There aren’t many ways to personalize Roku’s interface. What you can do is rearrange the tiles in any order on the home screen, whether that’s by placing your favorite streaming service front and center or by ensuring you have easy access to your local news or sports channel. You can also change the theme of your Roku screen via the device settings and download new color schemes through the Roku Channel Store. Finally, you can add a PIN code to your Roku account to stop children from accessing inappropriate content.
Roku Express vs. Roku Premiere streaming quality
Aside from price, the main difference between the Roku Express and Roku Premiere is streaming quality. The Express, being the cheaper device, is only able to stream in high definition (HD). That’s still decent quality for most people.
But for those who like the best of the best, the Premiere will impress. It can play content in 4K — a resolution that’s around four times sharper and clearer than regular HD. That means you’ll be able to truly immerse yourself in sports games as if you were sitting right next to the field or court. And when it comes to watching movies, you’ll get a theater-like experience with a huge range of colors and striking details.
Of course, to get the full 4K experience, you’ll need a display that’s compatible with such a high resolution and an internet speed of at least 25 megabits per second (Mbps) to keep up. The Premiere does come with a premium high-speed HDMI cable to help.
Roku Express vs. Roku Premiere compatibility
It won’t be hard to find a screen that works with either the Roku Express or Roku Premiere. All you need is a TV. Both devices work with HD TVs up to 1080p. But the Premiere can also work with 4K TVs up to 2160p, as long as the TV has an HDMI input that supports HDCP 2.2. The Premiere model is also compatible with 4K TVs that support high-dynamic-range (HDR) technology. Essentially, opt for an HDR display if you want an even more lifelike picture when streaming.
The final cut
Which device wins in the Roku Premiere vs. Express contest? If you’re not bothered by having the highest possible streaming quality or extra power, opt for the Roku Express. It’s the most affordable Roku model out there and, for $29.99, offers plenty to keep you busy. Plus, you’ll get access to the same Roku interface as all other Roku users and even get a handy remote included.
However, if you want a non-expensive way to try out 4K, choose the Roku Premiere. Although your 4K TV may be a smart TV with numerous apps, Roku tends to include a bigger range of channels and houses them all in one easy-to-use place. For less than $40, the Premiere is a streaming device that’s hard to say no to.
If you’re interested in learning more about Roku’s other devices, check out our Roku Streaming Stick+ review. We also have a Roku Ultra review. Finally, there’s a Roku Express Plus review for you to consider.