Roku today announced a whole bunch of new streaming media boxes, effectively replacing its existing hardware lineup. While the top-of-the-line, $130 Roku Ultra will appeal to early adopters who want both 4K and HDR video support, Roku's "cheap" box may just pique more interest.
The new Roku Express box, which replaces the old Roku 1, is a tiny streaming video box with double the processing power of the original box — and costs just $30. That puts it right in line with Google Chromecast ($35) and Amazon's Streaming Stick (around $40), and is even less expensive than Roku's own streaming stick ($50). The Roku Express doesn't support 4K video, and if you buy the version with composite cables it jumps up $10 in price, but it's still a competitive price for an HD video streaming box.
Even less expensive than Roku's own streaming video stick
The lower end of the streaming video market is one of the fastest growing segments for the company, Roku says, both in its line of relatively inexpensive Roku TVs and its separate streaming media devices. And according to data from research firm Parks Associates, streaming sticks accounted for 50 percent of all media streaming unit sales in 2015. So it makes sense that Roku would try to appeal to even more people with low-cost, entry-level hardware.
If anything, the Roku Express is certainly small enough to qualify as a stocking stuffer. We haven't had the chance to use it yet, so stay tuned for a full review.