When it comes to streaming players, one of the biggest would hands-down be Roku. They’ve been in the game for a while now and have since become synonymous in the world of set-top boxes, in the same way that Apple has with smartphone with their iPhone.

Back in the fall, Roku refreshed their entire lineup of boxes and gotten rid of their numbering system. And instead gave each line a specific name and certain features.

I’ve been testing out the Roku Premiere+ player and I would say it’s one of Roku’s best players to date.

Design & Hardware

The Roku Premiere+ is not a typical square-shaped player, it’s more rounded to give that extra Roku charm and quirkiness. You’ll find the Roku logo on the top with a glossy finish while the rest of the top has a matte finish. Meanwhile, the sides are glossy and the bottom is rubberized, so it won’t slip off of your shelf.

The Premiere+ is being powered by a fast quad-core processor which made using the player super responsive and easy to use without any slowdown.

For ports, the Premiere+ has an HDMI port, a microSD card slot, an Ethernet jack and the AC jack for power. The player’s remote has a matte finish with rubberized buttons. On the remote, you’ll find the typical Roku layout of buttons with a Home, Back, arrow keys, a skip back, options button and play/pause and fast-forward and rewind buttons. There is also dedicated buttons for Netflix, Spotify, Google Play Movies and TED. On the right side of the remote is a volume rocker and on the left side is a headphone jack for private listening through the included Roku purple earbuds (or your own pair). The remote for the Premiere+ takes two AA batteries which are included in the box.

 

Unlike the other new Roku players, the remote on the Premiere+ has Roku’s point-anywhere technology, so you don’t need to point it directly at the box. Overall the Premiere+ looks great and it blends in well on a media console and the remote feels great in the hands and has a good thickness. My only complaint, is that I wish that the remote was glossy instead of a matte finish like previous Roku models.

The Premiere+ is able to output up to 4K at 60fps with HDR support for a better range of colours and brighter whites and deeper blacks. Even if you don’t have a 4K TV yet, the Premiere+ is able to upscale 720p to 1080p on HDTVs and 720p or 1080p to 4K UHD TVs. So you’re still going to be getting great picture quality no matter what.

The Roku Premiere+ retails for $109.99 CAD while the cheaper Premiere is $89.99 CAD and both are available from Amazon.ca, Best Buy and Walmart.

Software

The player is being powered by Roku OS and the interface is very straightforward. Roku says there is more than 2,500 streaming channels which offer more than 100,000 movies and TV shows and that’s just for Canadian Roku users.

The homescreen is a simple grid of icons which can easily be rearranged using the options button on the remote. There is 5 sections to the OS, the first is Home which where you’ll find all your installed channels. The next is My Feed which is where you can find your bookmarked movies and TV shows and it will tell you which streaming channel you’ll be able to find it on. So it will search Netflix, Google Play Movies & TV, Crackle and the Cineplex Store and give you options of where to stream/purchase it.

The next section if Search, whereas you guessed it, is where you search for content. In Streaming Channels is where you’ll be able to add more channels for even more stuff to watch. Then the final section is Settings which is self-explanatory.

Roku OS also has features called Hotel and Dorm Connect, so users will be able to access public Internet networks when away from home. So if you’re staying at a hotel and it has a “I agree” or login page to use their WiFi, then you’ll still be able to connect to it on your Roku.

In addition to the private listening via the headphone jack on the remote, users can using private listening via the Roku app on Android and iOS which can also double as a remote including a keyboard, voice search.

Since the Premiere+ has a microSD card slot, you’ll be able to expand the storage of your Roku player for channels, so they can load faster. The microSD card can’t be used to play back media on your Roku.

Roku has done a great job with their Roku OS interface, the only issue is that it can sometimes seem to simplistic. And even though there are thousands of streaming channels available for Roku, there are some like Amazon Prime Video which are available in the US but not in Canada (yet), even though Amazon has brought their Prime Video service to Canada. But this could just be Amazon taking their sweet old time to try to bring their Roku app outside the US.

Final Thoughts

Roku has come along way with their players, they’re much more refined while still being powerful and offering great features. With the new lineup, Roku has a player that fits just every budget.

If you’re looking for one of the best streaming players out there that offers 4K & HDR support, a great selection of streaming channels, then look no further than the Roku Premiere+.

Pros

  • Great design
  • 4K and HDR support
  • Lots of content
  • Headphone jack on remote for private listening
  • Excellent performance

Cons

  • Some streaming channels aren’t available in Canada
  • No microphone for voice search (but is available via the app)

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