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Roku Ultra Streaming Device Review

by David Miklos Hazi
Roku Ultra

2020 Roku Ultra (4661) Review

The Roku Ultra (4661) is a 4K streaming device that was introduced in September 2018 (R). Roku’s Ultra is a top-of-the-line, full-featured media streamer offering 4K and HDR support. The device design is that of a typical set-top-box that connects to your television via HDMI connections.

If you are a heavy streaming cord-cutter or just want one of the best TV streamers available then this is the device for you. It is important to note that you need a compatible 4K or HDR television. Dolby Vision is not supported.

Ultra Design

Roku Ultra Hardware

The Roku Ultra device was designed to be a performance beast. This device is capable of providing lightning-fast 4K and HDR video thanks to its ARM Cortex A53 processor which also comes with 1GB of RAM. Another positive is the amazing job the device does with different HDR colors, particularly shades of blacks and whites.

The device connects over Wi-Fi with access to a/b/g/n/ac dual-bands including 5GHz Wi-Fi networks in addition to 2.4GHz ones giving it some great range if your router is not near your TV. Ultra is also the only device made by Roku that offers an Ethernet port so you never have to worry about losing your Wi-Fi signal.

The device connects to your television via its HDMI port. The device also features a MicroSD card slot and USB 2.0 slot on the side of the box allowing users to ability to increase storage or stream their own videos and photos. This is the only device offered by Roku with these features.

Ultra Remote

Also included is the upgraded remote control with voice-enabled controls that operate using Google Assistant and Amazon’s Alexa. The remote is matte black and very lightweight. Also, the remote contains directional arrow buttons, a back, and home button, and also has reverse, fast-forward, and play buttons. The Ultra will also automatically detect your TV through the HDMI connection and program your remote with the correct IR commands to turn your TV on and off and even control volume.

One of the upgraded features is the “Find my remote” feature which allows users to literally do just that, find your remote which as we all know can sometimes be quite the difficult process. Also featured on the remote control is a headphone jack to privately listen to your cord-cutting content. Ultra comes with a pretty solid pair of JBL earbuds, which if sold alone, would likely retail for over $30.

The remote also includes four shortcut buttons at the bottom that allows you to go directly to a cord-cutting service app such as Netflix or Sling TV. Depending upon where you get the streamer streaming stick these four buttons may be different. The company also offers the mobile app which allows you to use your smartphone as the remote, which also offers some advanced capabilities such as voice search and private listening which is great for when you don’t want to wake your kids or roommates.

Ultra Front

Roku Ultra Performance

Ultra’s performance is top-notch, but many consider it to only be slightly better than the Premiere+. The Ultra delivers outstanding Ultra 4K HDR and HDR10 video and is also capable of delivering 1080p picture quality. Loading video is a seamless experience with load up times and navigating menus in the blink of an eye. One downside is that Dolby Vision is not supported.

The performance of the streamer is largely determined by your Internet connection, processor, and platform. All of which have the best that the company has to offer, including a quad-core processor and Ethernet port.

In terms of audio users get optical digital audio support over HDMI. The device supports digital stereo, DTS Digital Surround, and Dolby Audio, and Dolby ATMOS pass through over HDMI. It also features a night listening mode. For the average cord-cutter, this is typically more than enough to enjoy high-quality sound but may fall short for the super audiophile.

Ultra Back

The platform is where the company absolutely nails it. It’s lightweight and fairly minimalist. The platform is not cluttered making scrolling smooth and quick with very little hints of lag. Users are able to stream content from the most popular streaming services and applications with ease.

Some of the top features offered are:

  • Compatibility with both 4K and HDR streams
  • Point-anywhere instead of having to aim, allowing you to stash the box out of sight
  • Connect headphones for private listening
  • Finder function to locate the clicker if it goes missing
  • Search via voice with Google Assistant or Amazon Alexa
  • microSD card slot that (when you insert said card) can help apps load faster
  • Ethernet port for wired connections, which can be more stable than Wi-Fi in most situations
  • USB port for playback of video files from connected drives
  • Optical digital audio output

Roku Ultra Set Up

Getting set up with the Ultra is very easy. Simply plug in the device, connect the HDMI to your TV, and follow the on-screen instructions. The device will ask you to connect to your Internet, either through the Ethernet port of Wi-Fi, and then it will check for firmware updates and will optimize the resolution. The resolution may start out fuzzy, but do not worry because the device will automatically adjust to your television’s proper resolution settings.

After you have connected to Wi-Fi and run the initial setup you will be asked to go to the company’s website to register the device. Pick and choose which apps you want to download to your streamer. Users can go back and change this at any time. You will start 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 Ultra Channels

The platform gives 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 Channel Store.

Mainstream content includes cord-cutting 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 mobile app gives users extra features. Use your iOS or Android device to enhance your cord-cutting 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.

Ultra Technical Specs

Roku Ultra
Networking802.11ac MIMO dual-band wireless, 10/100 Base-T Ethernet

TV CompatibilityHD TVs – Up to 1080p (1920 x 1080) with up-scaling from 720p, 4K UHD TVs – Up to 2160p at 60fps (3840 × 2160) with up-scaling from 720p and 1080p. TV must have an HDMI input that supports HDCP 2.2, 4K UHD HDR TVs – Supports HDR10. TV must have an HDMI input that supports HDCP 2.2
PortsPower, HDMI 2.0a, Ethernet 10/100, microSD, USB
AudioDigital stereo over HDMI®, DTS Digital Surround™ pass through over HDMI, Dolby Audio™ and Dolby ATMOS® pass through over HDMI, Night listening mode
Size4.9 x 4.9 x 0.85 inches
Weight8.0 ounces
Hulu Plus Live TV

Compare Roku Ultra To Other Streaming Devices

Wondering how this streaming media player stacks up vs other devices? Compare our Roku Ultra review to other popular cord-cutting TV devices reviews. We have reviewed the most popular devices on the market including brands such as Amazon, Apple, Roku, and more. Check out our full list of device reviews here:

  • AirTV – Dual network tuner that transmits OTA signals to a device connected television. Rating: 7.0; Price: Discontinued.
  • AirTV Player – Unique device that combines cord-cutting television with over-the-air antenna local channels in one platform. Rating: 6.4; Price: Discontinued.
  • Amazon Fire TV Cube – Central hub for connecting and controlling all of your home theatre equipment including TV, cable box, and even audio equipment by using the Amazon Alexa voice control technology. Rating: 8.6; Price: $119.99.
  • Amazon Fire TV Stick – Amazon’s budget streamer for cord-cutters looking to for 1080p resolution. Rating: 8.4; Price: $39.99.
  • Amazon Fire TV Stick 4K – Amazon’s 4K streaming stick. Great value. Rating: 9.0; Price: $49.00.
  • Apple TV – Original set-top box by Apple. Rating: 8.4; Price: $149.99.
  • Apple TV 4K – One of the most powerful set-top boxes on the market. Apple’s 4K version. Rating: 9.2; Price: 32G $179.99 and 64G $199.99.
  • Google Chromecast Dongle that allows users to cast from a separate device. Rating: 6.4; Price: $35.00.
  • Google Chromecast Ultra – Google’s 4K version of the dongle. Powerful but awkward. Rating: 7.4; Price: $69.00.
  • Roku Express – Ultra budget 1080p set-top box. Rating: 7.6; Price: $29.99.
  • Roku Express+ Tiny set-top box for older televisions. Rating: 7.8; Price: $35.00.
  • Roku Premiere – Inexpensive 4K and HDR10 set-top box. Rating: 8.6; Price: $39.99.
  • Roku Premiere+ Upgraded version of the Premiere. Rating: 8.6; Price: $49.99.
  • Roku Ultra Top-of-line 4K and HDR set-top box. Rating: 9.6; Price: $99.99.
  • Roku Streaming Stick Non-4K streaming stick for budget cord-cutters. Rating: 8.6; Price: $49.99.
  • Roku Streaming Stick+ Very powerful 4K streaming stick for power cord-cutters. Rating: 9.6; Price: $49.99.

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