The Roku Ultra has been refreshed for 2019, and there are some noticeable upgrades this year that are worth your attention.
It’s difficult to improve on an industry-leading device, but Roku found two significant ways in 2019. Where in 2018 all we received was a headphone update, but this year there are some significant hardware upgrades.
Is it worth the $99.99 price tag? We’re about to find out in our Roku Ultra 2019 review.
What’s New in the Roku Ultra 2019
The Roku Ultra 2019 received an upgraded processor and you’re going to see the top 100 channel launching up to 17% faster than on previous models. While that may not sound like it’s that much faster, but when you’re a cord-cutter and this is the only way you watch TV, it adds up. And to be frank, it is noticeable. Some of the channels now feel as if they launch almost instantly and it’s a welcome change.
Another change is one that long-time Roku users will definitely appreciate. The “A” and “B” buttons are gone. Now we’re treated to the four dedicated buttons moving down the remote and “1” and “2” buttons being added above them. These two buttons are programmable by the users to launch favorite channels or execute common voice commands.
Who is the Roku Ultra 2019 For?
If you’ve never bought a Roku, then this is truly the model for you. It’s fast, and almost the most versatile of the Roku family. While the other models all rely on Wi-Fi for their connectivity, the Ultra provides you with an Ethernet port. While that may not seem like the most important thing in the world, as 4K streaming becomes more common you’ll appreciate the stability of the connection.
The Roku Ultra is also the only model to support personal media thanks to its built-in USB port. For video it supports H.264/AVC (.MKV, .MP4, .MOV), H.265/HEVC (.MKV, .MP4, .MOV); VP9 (.MKV) and for audio you’ll find AAC (.MKV, .MP4, .MOV); MP3 (.MP3, .MKV); WMA (.ASF, .WMA, .MKV), FLAC (.FLAC, .MKV), PCM (.WAV, .MKV, .MP4, .MOV), AC3/EAC3 (.MKV, .MP4, .MOV, .AC3), DTS (.MKV, .MP4, .MOV), ALAC (.MKV, .MP4, .MOV, .M4A). If you want to show off your photos, you can display JPG, PNG and GIF, but alas, no animated GIFs. If you’ve been building a video collection for years, this is something you’ll definitely appreciate.
To Buy or Not to Buy
Suggesting whether or not you should purchase the Roku Ultra is a tough call while also being oddly easy. It is essentially the exact same advice I have given the past few years.
- Have a Roku, but no 4K TV – You can definitely wait until such time as you do have one of those sets.
- This will be your first Roku, but you don’t own a 4K TV – I would still recommend picking up the Roku Ultra as you will be future-proofing yourself for when you may pick up one down the road.
- 4K TV, but no set-top box/want to switch to Roku – The Roku has been the best in class of streaming devices for years now, and the Roku Ultra only improves things that much more.
In short, it is really going to be based on what equipment you already own or plan to purchase in the near future. About the only people we don’t recommend it for is someone who has a Roku already and no 4K TV. Except for that sub-category of consumers, the Roku Ultra is a great device to have so that you can enjoy all of the streaming options out there in the world.
At the $99.99 price point, it’s an easy recommendation unless you don’t have that 4K TV. Even if you own a Roku it’s worth considering this year due to the upgrade in processor and the updated remote. If you’re looking to jump into Roku, then go for it.
Disclaimer: Roku sent us a review unit of the Roku Ultra. We used it as our primary streaming device for a week before beginning this review.
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