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What is Roku? Everything You Need to Know

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If you want to watch Netflix, YouTube, and other popular streaming services on your TV, you’re going to need a streaming device of some kind. These days, the most popular streaming devices on the market come from Roku. Here’s everything you need to know about what a Roku device is, how it works, how much it costs, and how you can use it to start streaming free content.

What Is Roku?

Roku is a company that makes streaming devices that let you stream over 500,000 free and paid movies, TV episodes, live programs, music, and more. You can get a Roku device to turn your current TV into a smart TV, or you can get a TV that already has the streaming platform already built-in.

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(Image Source: Roku)

Streaming is a method of delivering content over the internet in real-time. That means you can stream a live sporting event, just like you would watch it on a cable TV. And you can also stream movies and TV shows, pause them, rewind and fast-forward them, and more. However, you will need a fast and reliable internet connection to stream content.

If you want to find out if your internet connection is fast enough to stream content, check out our guide on how to test your WiFi speed.

How Does Roku Work?

A Roku device works by connecting your TV to the internet, so you can download channels such as Netflix, Amazon Prime Video, Hulu, YouTube, Spotify, and more. It’s similar to your smartphone, which also lets you download apps and watch content on popular streaming services.

With a Roku device, you can turn almost any TV into a smart TV. All you need to do is plug your device into the HDMI (High-Definition Multimedia Interface) port of your TV. However, there is also a Roku device that will work with older TVs that don’t have HDMI ports as well.

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(Image Source: Roku)

If you want to see how Roku stacks up against other streaming devices, take our short test to find out which streaming device is best for you.


Is Roku Free?

Once you buy a Roku device, you will get access to thousands of hours of free content on certain channels without having to pay any kind of subscription fee. However, you will have to pay a subscription fee to watch content on certain channels, like Netflix, Hulu, Disney+, and more.

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Some of the most popular paid channels you can download with a Roku device include Netflix, Apple TV, HBO, Showtime, and more. Each of these channels lets you watch any of the movies and TV shows in their library with a monthly subscription fee. Still, this can still be much cheaper than a cable subscription because you only have to pay for the channels that you want to watch.

For sports-lovers, there are channels like ESPN, the NFL channel, and many more that let you watch live games. For news junkies, there are channels like NBC, Fox, CBS, and even local news stations. There are also channels made for kids, international channels, travel channels, music streaming services, and more. Plus, you can buy or rent movies and TV shows for cheap, so you won’t have to leave the couch to watch the newest releases.


There are also lots of channels that let you watch tons of content for free. Some of the most popular free channels include YouTube, Pluto TV, Tubi, Crackle, PBS Kids, and more. Plus, with the Roku Channel, you can watch over 100 live channels and tons of free content, even from your computer or smartphone.

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How Much Is a Roku Device?

At the moment, you can get a Roku device for under $30 or as much as $100 and over, depending on which model you choose. You can also get a Roku soundbar for between $130 and $180. Or you can get a Roku TV for as little as $300 and under to as much as $1,000 and over.

The cheapest Roku devices only let you stream in HD (high-definition), or you can pay a little extra to stream in 4K UHD (ultra-high-definition). For example, the Roku Ultra, which currently costs $100 on Amazon, supports 4K in HDR (high dynamic range), Dolby Vision, and Dolby Atmos.

One of the best 4K TVs on the market now is the 2020 TCL 5-Series with the Roku platform built-in. You can get the 50-inch model for under $450 on Amazon now. This TV will let you use your cable subscription and connect your DVD players, game consoles, and other devices.

If you’re in the market for a new TV, make sure to check out our list of the best smart TVs of 2020 for any budget.


How to Use Roku

To use a Roku device, you’ll have to download certain channels. Once you download a few channels, you can use your remote to access all the content they offer. Or you can search for new content by title, actor, director, genre, and more.

All Roku devices come with a remote control that lets you change the channel, pause, fast-forward, and rewind. Some models also let you change the volume, turn off your TV, and search for content and channels with voice commands.

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(Image Source: Roku)

You can also download the free Roku app on your iOS and Android devices. This app lets you control your TV and search for content with voice commands. Plus, you can connect your headphones to your smartphone when using the app to enjoy private listening.

Roku is also compatible with Alexa and the Google Assistant, so you can use voice commands to control your TV. For example, you can link your Roku device to an Amazon Echo smart speaker and say, “Alexa, turn up the volume on my TV.” This way, you won’t have to touch your remote again.

If you’re still unsure about whether to choose a Roku device, check out our articles on Roku vs Firestick and Roku vs Apple TV.


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