THE Roku officially landed in Brazil in January 2020 on AOC smart TVs. After preparing the ground, the North American company started to expand its portfolio for our market. And to start, they launched the Roku Express, a more basic streaming box, which is also a TV Box, and is a direct competitor to the Amazon Fire TV Stick and Google Chromecast.
The Roku Express can be connected to any new and old TV, brings a remote control, integration with the brand’s app and displays content in Full HD. For R $ 349.90, is it worth opting for this gadget? And what are the differentials? I have tested Roku Express in the past few days and will tell you all the details in the next few minutes.
Video Roku Express review
THE Tecnoblog is a technology-independent journalistic vehicle that helps people make their next purchase decision since 2005. Our product reviews are opinionated and have no advertising intent. For this reason, we always transparently highlight the positive and negative points of each product.
No company, manufacturer or store has paid the Tecnoblog to produce this content. Our reviews are not reviewed or approved by external agents. The Roku Express streaming box was provided by Roku by donation. The product will be used in future content and will not be returned to the company.
Kit and installation
The Roku Express is a compact and straightforward device, contributing to a simple installation without much secrecy. So much so that the product has only two ports: HDMI and micro USB. Next to the latter, there is a reset button. All of this means that the company’s proposal is to prioritize convenience, since transporting it and installing it on another TV ends up being quick and easy.
In addition to the box, Roku sends to the installation an HDMI cable of only 60 centimeters, which is connected to the TV and Express; and there is another micro USB cable, responsible for energizing the device.
Adhesive tape has also been sent and allows you to attach the set-top box to the television if you prefer. If you choose to secure it, the box cannot be hidden, as it works with infrared and there is no Bluetooth, unfortunately.
Simplicity is also seen in the remote control – a differentiator from Google Chromecast -, which requires the use of the cell phone. The control sent here follows the proposal to be compact, with few buttons and some dedicated ones that change in each region. For Brazil, there are buttons for Netflix, Globoplay, HBO Go and Google Play, the latter is used to open Google Play Movies.
For comparison, in the United States the same control brings buttons for Hulu and ESPN +.
Also note that there is no way to turn the TV on and off for him, which I found very bad, I confess; shutdown is done at the interface. Voice control is another feature I missed here, as well as the volume buttons.
With everything connected, the setup step is very easy and intuitive, but get ready for about 10 minutes of adjustments, especially if you don’t have a Roku account. When I installed the streaming box for the first time, it advanced a software update that took less than 2 minutes. In addition, the system performs an analysis of the HDMI connection to define the best type of screen.
Software and performance
Despite not sharing many details, Roku Express works with its own operating system and the interface comes very clean, so much so that Globoplay is the only application that comes pre-installed. And that has an explanation: both companies are partners; it is not for nothing that the Globoplay button is on the Express control and can appear in the next Roku products.
Still on the interface, note that it keeps everything organized without much information: the menu with home screen, search, streaming channels and settings is positioned in the left corner, while in the middle it is possible to see the installed channels. Ah, Roku prefers to call streaming channels platforms.
The software runs very well and I didn’t notice crashes and other problems, however, the time to start the system bothers me. In my tests, I was only able to access the main screen after 18 seconds. It seems like little, but in practice, you may find it strange, too.
Roku Express fulfills the agreement of being a product focused on streaming. After all, the main services are included in the system: Netflix, Prime Video, Telecine Play, Looke, Danz, CrunchyRoll, Vix, Apple TV, in addition to others already mentioned. Reinforcing that some of the products mentioned here require paid subscription.
A really cool thing about Express is the advanced search that makes it possible to find movies on various streaming services. For example, when searching for “The Avengers”, the platform showed that the feature is available for purchase on Apple TV and Google Play Movies. The purchase can be made quickly, since it is possible to register a credit card with Roku.
Even with a wide catalog, Roku Express may not be so advantageous for those who seek extremely high quality when watching streaming content. It displays content in up to Full HD, but it can still be connected to a 4K television normally.
It is important to note that this is a more basic streaming box from the American company, which explains the absence of 4K. If you want something more complete and with 4K built-in, you will have to resort to the Roku Premiere, but it has not yet arrived in Brazil.
The display in Full HD until I like it. During the evaluation, I connected the Express to a 48-inch television and I did not have such vivid images, of course, but the quality does not disappoint.
Other features worth mentioning are the mirroring and screen saver available. The first allows the user to share songs, photos and videos on the phone on the TV, while the second displays an animated wallpaper with suggestions of what to watch; other options can be activated.
Roku Express can be easily controlled by the brand’s official app, which is available for both Android and iPhone (iOS). Using it was essential, being viable to type to search for a channel, movie and series, in addition to mirroring smartphone content. In the app itself it is possible to open a channel without searching for it on TV, because the phone already displays those installed services.
Private listening, on the other hand, I consider as one of the best features present in Roku Express. As the controller does not have a P2 input, I was able to hear what was shown on TV by the Roku app, with a connected headset.
Even if it turns any TV into a smart TV, I see and recommend Roku Express for those who consume a lot of content in streaming, because the gadget will really surprise that consumer who has a subscription to Netflix, Prime Video, HBO Go and other popular platforms on the market.
But if the configurations of this one did not please, it may be worthwhile to purchase a more complete model from Roku, which should land in Brazil soon. On the other hand, if you are looking for something closer to smart TVs, then I recommend going to the competition: Chromecast 3 or maybe the Fire TV Stick, or Xiaomi models.
I believe that one of the main cons of Roku Express is the limited control without Bluetooth. In addition, the short HDMI cable is more of a hindrance than it helps to install and, most likely, you will have to use tape to secure it to the TV. Apart from all that, the streaming box brings a fluid and complete interface for the streaming fan.