Top-notch voice remote pro
4K/HDR and Dolby Vision
Fast, with wired internet
More expensive than streaming sticks
Updated October 21, 2022: This review has been updated with the most recent information available.
For starters, the flagship Roku box supports all the major streaming services in 4K, HDR (including both Dolby Vision and HDR10+), and Dolby Atmos. It also has Roku's Voice Remote Pro, which has a rechargeable battery (finally), lost remote finder, programmable shortcuts to your favorite apps, and the ability to use your voice to search for content—either in an always-listening mode or a more private push-to-talk. It also brings back a built-in headphone jack, allowing you to listen privately to whatever you're streaming, a feature we desperately missed.
Add it all up, and the Roku Ultra is the best streaming device money can buy right now.
About the Roku Ultra (2022)
- Resolution: 4K, up to 2160p at 60fps (3840 x 2160)
- HDR: Dolby Vision, HDR10+, HDR10, HLG
- Ports: USB 3.0, HDMI 2.0b, Ethernet 10/100, Power
- Networking: Wired Ethernet, 802.11ac dual-band MIMO Wi-Fi
- Audio: Digital stereo over HDMI, DTS Digital Surround pass through over HDMI, Dolby Atmos decode via HDMI, local playback over USB, Bluetooth
- Remote: Voice remote Pro with personal shortcuts, TV power/volume/mute, headphone jack for wireless listening
- Smart Assistants: Works with Alexa, Google Assistant, Roku voice search
- Video Codecs: H.264/AVC (.MKV, .MP4, .MOV); H.265/HEVC (.MKV, .MP4, .MOV); VP9.2 (.MKV); AV1 (.MP4, .MKV)
- Audio Codecs: AAC (.MKV, .MP4, .MOV); MP3 (.MP3, .MKV); WMA (.ASF, .WMA, .MKV); FLAC (.FLAC, .MKV); PCM (.WAV, .MKV, .MP4, .MOV); AC3/EAC3 (.MKV, .MP4, .MOV, .AC3); DTS (.MKV, .MP4, .MOV); ALAC (.MKV, .MP4, .MOV, .M4A); HEAAC (.MKV, .MP4, .MOV, .AAC); AC-4 with Atmos (.MKV, .MP4, .MOV, .AC4 ); DD+ (EAC3) with Atmos (.MKV, .MP4, .MOV)
- Size: 4.9 in x 1.0 in, 5.0 in (W x H x D)
- Weight: 5.9oz (167.2g)
The Roku Ultra's default model number is 4802R (a change from the 4800R of the 2020 model). The model we reviewed has an MSRP of $99.99 and comes with buttons for Netflix, Disney+, Apple TV+, and Paramount+. As with previous Roku Ultra models, we expect to see updated editions at specific retailers like Best Buy and Walmart that may come at different price points and with different features (like a different remote). It can be confusing to tell the difference between the different Ultra models since they look so similar, but the 4802 models should all be 2022 or later.
What we like about the Roku Ultra
The new remote is our favorite one yet
Though Roku released the Voice Remote Pro as a separate purchase last year, it's great to see it included as standard equipment on Roku's best streaming device. Roku already had arguably the best remote with the previous Ultra, but the Voice Remote Pro puts those arguments to rest: the addition of a rechargeable battery, the return of the headphone jack, built-in TV controls for volume and power, and the voice searching capability make it second-to-none.
Is it as elegant as an Apple TV remote? No, but you're not buying a statement piece, you're buying a remote that will be your primary input device for your entire content library. Roku still lets you do that better than most, with four included shortcut buttons, two additional ones you can program to any app you want, a proper (clicky!) directional pad, and simple controls for play, pause, back, details, etc. It's just a great remote.
The rechargeable battery is the real star of the show here. Only Apple has included that on its streaming remotes, and it's really a no-brainer. My Roku remote goes through more AA batteries than my kids' toys, which is saying something. It is especially power-hungry when using it to power headphones for private listening, a feature every streaming device maker should've stolen five years ago.
Support for every major streaming service
If you use your streaming device to access more than one or two apps, it's actually a bit of a pain sometimes to switch between them on certain streamers. If you make a streaming device and operate a streaming service, you tend to show off your content above others. Roku has inserted quite a few ads for its free Roku Channel in the Roku interface, but when you boot up the Roku you're pretty much just shown your favorite apps. It's simple, easy to understand, and difficult to get lost.
Fortunately, we've moved past the days when half the streaming devices were missing at least one streaming service—remember when you couldn't get Netflix on Apple TV?—but Roku still supports every major streaming service, Apple TV+ included. It also supports most of them in both 4K and HDR, now with support for both HDR10+ and Dolby Vision depending on what your TV supports.
If you need to stream it, chances are Roku has you covered—at least for now. Roku only recently was able to work out its issues with Google's YouTube TV to provide a native app experience, so there's always a possibility those issues come back. But for now, there's peace in the land of streaming.
Roku has a need ... for speed
Since Roku's don't tend to be used for things like gaming they're not very powerful compared to some other streaming devices, but Roku seems to have paid special attention to speeding things up with this new Ultra. Everything felt snappy right out of the box, including downloading apps over Wi-Fi. I was up and running with 40-50 new channels in less than 20 minutes, and Roku even brought over most of my log-ins without me having to re-enter passwords (Netflix was the lone exception).
Roku is still including an ethernet port here, which helps if you have spotty Wi-Fi (especially for 4K content). It does support 802.11ac Wi-Fi, though it's dual-band and won't fully utilize newer Wi-Fi 6 routers—not that you'd need to if you're just streaming 4K HDR video.
What we don’t like about Roku Ultra
Far more ads than there used to be
Though Roku is nowhere near as big as the major tech companies it's competing with, it has become quite a bit larger thanks in no small part to its ability to throw more ads at users. Some of this is useful, supporting free content like its Roku Channel, but there are definitely more ads on the platform than there were five or six years ago.
For the most part, Roku doesn't put them in any obtrusive places. There are content ads included on some of the screensavers, which I mostly just find annoying, but there are screensavers that are ad-free. One semi-related note: Roku needs more high-quality screensaver choices. The screensaver channel is mostly filled with dreck and questionable content, while both Google and Apple TV use very high-quality photos and timelapse videos in their screensavers, giving the platforms a higher-quality feel.
Roku OS doesn't support any other types of apps
This isn't really much of a negative, since Roku is focused on providing a streaming experience first and foremost, but it's worth noting Roku doesn't support other kinds of apps. Using Android apps on the Nvidia Shield or Google Chromecast isn't ideal, but as we're moving into an era of console game streaming, in particular, Roku's OS simply isn't built to handle that kind of entertainment on these boxes.
You can already play some games on both Google Chromecast and Apple TV 4K, and we're already seeing Xbox game streaming on Samsung TVs. It's only a matter of time before the flagship-level streaming boxes will be expected to offer these options. The tech is just getting there, but it's an area we'd like to see Roku once again be at the forefront of, instead of risking falling behind.
Should you buy the Roku Ultra
Of course—it's the best streaming device for just about everyone
Making the case for the Roku Ultra isn't that hard—it has everything you could want, a bunch of features you can't get on other streaming devices, and it's from a brand we know and trust. These devices support just about everything (occasional contract spats notwithstanding), they're fast, and they integrate seamlessly into whatever TV setup you've got. The Roku Ultra has been great for years, and the 2022 is the best one yet.
At this point, it's more about why you'd choose anything else. If you're an Apple die-hard, then you will want to consider the Apple TV 4K. The interface is a little nicer, the remote is much worse (though better than it used to be), and it works better with other Apple devices like MacBooks and iPads.
If you want a little more flexibility, the Google Chromecast with Google TV is a good choice (with a bad name). It's smaller and easier to fit on wall-mounted TVs, supports Google Chromecast for easy screen-streaming, and it supports (some) Android apps. It's great, and cheaper than the Roku Ultra, though the smaller size and price puts it more in competition with the other streaming sticks than the heavy-hitting streaming boxes like this, the Apple TV, and the Nvidia Shield.
Ultimately, Roku's Ultra is still the top dog here. It does pretty much everything you could want a streaming device to do at a price that's still significantly lower than its closest competition. Simply put, it's the best streaming device money can buy. Why would you buy anything else?
Prices were accurate at the time this article was published but may change over time.
Meet the tester
TJ is the Executive Editor of Reviewed.com. He is a Massachusetts native and has covered electronics, cameras, TVs, smartphones, parenting, and more for Reviewed. He is from the self-styled "Cranberry Capitol of the World," which is, in fact, a real thing.
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