Welcome to The Esquire Endorsement. Heavily researched. Thoroughly vetted. These picks are the best way to spend your hard-earned cash.
Sometimes, you just want to watch some TV. Just grab a remote, body-flop onto a lumpy couch, and dedicate the remainder of your day to aimlessly clicking through your video libraries—be it Netflix, HBO, Amazon Prime, or all three plus fourteen others—until you finally land on the same old movie you rewatch at least once a month. (Independence Day, anyone?) Roku’s latest streaming device is all you need to make that happen. Whether you don’t yet own a streaming device, the device you have is a complicated nightmare, or you’re simply ready to upgrade from a previous Roku model, you should give the Roku Premiere your attention. And then you can go back to watching TV until your eyes cross.
It’s astonishingly easy to use.
Roku’s main selling point is simplicity. For good reason. The main Roku menu appears on your TV screen in an easy-to-digest fashion. All the video subscription services you pay for will be up there, like Hulu, Netflix, Prime, CBS All Access, ESPN, Sling, and more. There’s a Roku Channel too, and before you scoff, let me tell you: The TV shows and movies on it aren’t half bad, and all of it is free. This thing’s interface is incredibly simple to navigate. It’s intuitive. It won’t feel like you have to learn a new language to get the hang of it. And as you can very obviously see from the Roku remote, there are a mere spattering of buttons to master, none of whose functions are at all mysterious. Those shortcut buttons to Netflix and Hulu are especially clutch, trust me.
(If you’re an Apple person, the new Apple TV app will likely be added to Roku this year.)
The streaming quality and features are great.
Like most new televisions these days, the Roku Premiere supports 4K Ultra HD and HDR streaming, as well as less-intense 1080p streaming, if you haven’t made the picture upgrade yet. The Roku app adds more features. You can use it instead of the remote. You can activate voice control. And perhaps most conveniently, you can switch on private listening, so that the audio that’s playing on the big screen can only be heard through earbuds connect to your phone. That way, you blast your housemates or partner out of bed when the aliens obliterate the White House in Independence Day—just your own eardrums.
The set-up is—you guessed it—very easy.
And here we are, back at simplicity. To set the Roku Premiere up, you need a TV with an HDMI port and a nearby outlet for power. You turn it on, connect it to your Wifi, and go. That’s it.
And there’s just a one-time price (no subscription fees or anything like that) of $39 for all this. For reference, a 4K Fire from Amazon if $50, and you have to really be an Amazon person to like it. An Apple 4K TV is…$179.