Roku Express (3900) Review
The Roku Express (3900) is a streaming device that was released in October 2017 (R). This streaming device is not a stick or a dongle. The device is a tiny set-top box that needs to be visible to be used. In terms of hardware, the Roku Express is basically a smaller version of the old Roku 2. The device is becoming outdated but is still a great option for the casual cord-cutter looking for an inexpensive, non-4K solution.
Roku Express Hardware
The Roku Express streaming device connects via an HDMI cable. The device must be powered by using a micro USB adapter and cable or you can power the Express via the USB port on your TV. Using the USB port will slow down the performance of the device. Micro USB adapter and an HDMI cable are included when you purchase the device which is something other device makers rarely do.
Also included is the standard Roku remote without voice controls. The remote uses infrared or IR so you will need to be within line of sight of the device. This is unlike newer devices which rely on Bluetooth. The remote is matte black and very lightweight. The remote contains directional arrow buttons, a back, and home button, and also has reverse, fast-forward, and play buttons.
The remote also includes four shortcut buttons at the bottom that allows you to go directly to a streaming service app such as Netflix or Sling TV. These four buttons may be differed depending upon where you get the Roku Express. Roku also offers the Roku mobile app which allows you to use your smartphone as the remote. You can also use the phone application to access some advanced capabilities such as voice search or private listening mode.
Roku Express Performance
The performance of the Roku Express is becoming outdated but that doesn’t mean it’s a poor experience. The device is by no means sluggish and is just as good as comparable versions of Amazon Fire TV. The device is fully capable of delivering a very sharp 1080p HD picture over Wi-Fi with little to no buffering.
The performance of the Roku is largely determined by the Wi-Fi antenna, processor, and Roku platform. The Express can’t access less-crowded 5 GHz Wi-Fi networks, just standard 2.4 GHz ones. Startup and load times will be affected if your home Wi-Fi network is spotty or weak.
The processor is middle-of-the-road but is capable of handling just about any app or video.
The platform is where Roku absolutely nails it. It’s lightweight and fairly minimalist. The platform is not cluttered making scrolling smooth and quick. Accessing your favorite streaming applications is very easy and intuitive.
Roku Express Set Up
Getting set up with the Roku Express is very easy. Simply plug in the device, connect the HDMI cable to your TV, and follow the on-screen instructions. The device will ask you to connect to your WiFi and then it will check for firmware updates and will optimize the resolution. The resolution may start out in 720p and could appear fuzzy, but do not worry because the device will automatically adjust to 1080p.
After you have connected to WiFi and run the initial setup you will be asked to go to Roku’s website to register the device. You can pick and choose which apps you want to download to your Roku. You can go back and change this at any time. Roku will start you off with a handful of apps at first but there are thousands of apps available.
Once set up, simply select and open an application and you’re ready to start consuming your favorite content.
Roku Express Channels
Roku’s platforms give cord-cutters access to over 5,000 different channels and applications. This includes both free and premium based content. Roku arguably has the greatest ecosystem of applications and games. All of these can be downloaded at no cost from the Roku Channel Store.
Mainstream content includes streaming services such as Sling TV, fuboTV, YouTube TV, Hulu, Netflix, and more. Users also get access to free content such as PlutoTV, tubi, PBS, Crackle, and more. Roku offers users the capability to listen to music, watch TV and movies, and even get up-to-date news and weather information.
The Roku mobile app gives users extra features. Use your iOS or Android device to enhance your streaming experience. Additional features include:
- The Roku Channel: Stream hundreds of hit movies, TV shows, and more—anytime, anywhere.
- Voice Search: Just say it to search by title, actor, or director across 1,000+ channels.
- Private listening: Use headphones to listen as loud as you want without disturbing the house.
- Cast to TV: See your photos, videos, and music up on your big screen.
Roku Express Technical Specs
|Networking||802.11 (b/g/n compatible) single-band wireless|
|TV Compatibility||HD TVs – Up to 1080p (1920 x 1080) with up-scaling from 720p|
|Ports||Micro USB for power, |
|Audio||Digital stereo over HDMI®, DTS Digital Surround™ pass through over HDMI®, Dolby pass through over HDMI|
|Size||1.4 x 3.3 x 0.7 inches|