Roku Express+ Full Review

Roku Express+ Full Review

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The Roku Express+ is a dynamite little (and we emphasize little) media player aimed at beginners in the streaming world and more specifically Walmart shoppers. The device sports all of Roku’s hallmarks including the multi-channel content search, thousands of available streaming channel options, an organized and categorized channel store, simple vertical interface and even more, a system that does not favor one content provider over the other which differentiates it from all of its other competitors Apple TV, Amazon Fire TV. and the Android TV platform which all push content from their own properties. Continue to see our Roku Express+ Full Review bellow.

Roku uses a simple grid to organize channels.
Roku uses a simple grid to organize channels.

What differentiates The Roku Express+ from other Rokus
First of all, the Roku Express+ is available exclusively at Walmart. It’s not even for sale on the Roku website. The device is obviously focussed on value shoppers who are looking for a strong branded product but not looking to part with too much money.

2 different connection cables included
Something else that sets the Roku Express+ is that it ships with an HDMI cable and an AV cable. Until this point. none of the Roku’s came with a free HDMI cable. The one that ships with the Roku Express+ is small, about 2 feet long. So for those looking for a value proposition the savings of not purchasing an HDMI cord can save between $15.00-$70.00.Yes there is that large a disparity

Hulu is one of thousands of apps available for Roku Express+.
Hulu is one of thousands of apps available for Roku Express+.

between some cables.

By shipping with AV cables, the Roku Express+ can attach to an older/CRT (square) tube TV provided it is not so old that it does not even have AV ports. Just for review “AV” or “RCA” cables are the ones with the red, yellow and white ends that dominated the consumer video industry for decades. The Roku Express+ is the only Roku that currently ships with AV cables.

Size
The Roku Express+, like the Roku Express+ is only slightly larger than a Roku Streaming Stick. It’s about as wide as a credit card. It’s also a very lite device and all fits in one tight little package.

Attachable
Unlike a dongle, which plugs into a TV directly via an HDMI port, the Roku Express+ will not automatically be anchored to a TV. On the other hand, because it is small and lightweight, it can be

Roku allows users to search across numerous apps to find what they want all at once.
Roku allows users to search across numerous apps to find what they want all at once.

attached to a TV via an included adhesive strip. The product even comes with directions for doing so as part of its tight packaging.

What does the product come with?

  • IR/Directional Remote (batteries included)
  • 2 foot HDMI Cable
  • AV Cable/RCA Cable
  • Adhesive Strip (to attach the Roku Express+ to a television)
  • Power adapter so that it can be plugged into an outlet
  • Simple setup manual
  • USB cable to power the device via either the power adapter or via a USB port available on the TV

Hardware

Dual core processor
This is a less powerful CPU than The Roku Stick and boxes starting with the Premier but powerful enough to handle the basic functions of most apps.

Large infrared receiver

The CW app for Roku lets users watch all of its shows for free.
The CW app for Roku lets users watch all of its shows for free.

The entire front of the Roku Express+ is an IR receiver. This is helpful considering that the Remote must be pointed at the IR strip in order for it to respond. The strip side is sleek and smooth and is almost unnoticeable on a TV set since almost every single one is black.

Remote
On the surface, the remote looks and feels like any other Roku remote. It has minimal buttons. The full gambit includes a home button, a back button, 4-way directional buttons, skip back 10 seconds, the asterisk (used for settings and accessing channel options) scrub forward, scrub back, play/pause and at least with this edition of the remote, quick launch buttons for Netflix, Sling Television, VUDU (Walmarts video service) and Amazon Video.

Can’t be hidden
As stated earlier, the Roku Express remote requires line of site with the device itself. This means that the Roku Express+ can not be hidden or mounted behind a TV like the Streaming Stick and various Roku models which use a different technology. The Wireless app for IOS and Android will allow users to communicate with the device without line of site because they communicate over the Internet.

Performance

Navigation
This device is not the most powerful one on the market. This shows in its speed when navigating menus and launching channels. There is a noticeable lag when switching from one section to another which is typically instantaneous on the quad-core models. This is not unlike the original Roku HDMI Streaming Stick, otherwise known as the “purple one”. New users may not even notice the navigation issues, but for someone used to the Roku Ultra or Roku 4 this was very noticeable.

Launching Channels/apps
Like navigation, this can lag compared to faster models and Roku’s competitors. I launched Netflix and it actually took over a minute to open in the first place in order to boot and let me sign in. Once the process was finished, Netflix loaded quickly but still took quite a bit of time to launch videos. For a true apples to apples comparison, I launched Amazon Video and Hulu. I also launched Bloomberg news live stream in just seconds as well as clips from NBC Sports. The other apps loaded all of their videos quickly.  Sling TV also loaded live TV with no problem at all.

Setup
Setting up the Roku is simple enough, but you will need a computer or a wireless device capable of

Once you have signed in to your WiFi you are ready to get your streaming on.
Once you have signed in to your WiFi you are ready to get your streaming on.

browsing. This is because once the device is on your network you must link a Roku account to the device itself, or create one and this requires logging in to Roku’s website.  Roku will offer to help set up some of your first channels by suggesting popular options. One nice option here is to sign into Amazon Video ahead of time (if you are an Amazon Prime member) so you can skip it once the device is ready. No other apps seem to have that option. The process is not too difficult as the device prompts you for each step. The longest part of the setup is when the Roku adds existing channels. If you already have an active Roku account with a number of channels the device will take much longer to load the first time then a new account.  This is something to keep in mind if you pick up an Express+ in a household that has owned a Roku device for some time. With relatively few channels it is much faster. In fact we recommend you add the majority of channels through the Streaming Channels Store to save time.

Special Tip
The performance can be affected if it is not close enough to the WiFi router. A lot of people seem to set up routers in offices because that is where their computers are. But if the router is far away from the Roku Express you will have issues updating it and setting it up. This can be fixed with signal extenders.

Overall, the Roku Express+ is a solid addition to the Roku family of products. It is affordable at $40.00 and the inclusion of all of the necessary cords and adhesive strips to set it up can not be ignored. No, it is not the most powerful of all of the Roku devices, but it will work for nearly any household. On sale it will be an even more impressive deal.

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