Review: Roku Ultra (2022)

Roku’s latest and most powerful streaming device is here. And this version has a couple of interesting things going for it that may make you shell out $129 Canadian for it. The player in question is the 2022 version of the Roku Ultra. Here’s what you get in the box:

You get the player, a HDMI cable which is a nice touch, a USB-A to Micro USB cable to charge the remote, a pair of headphones with different earth sizes, the new Roku Voice Remote Pro, the power adapter and some documentation. About the only thing that I could be critical of is the fact that while it’s great that the Voice Remote Pro is rechargeable meaning that you don’t have to put batteries into it frequently, it charges via Micro USB rather than USB-C seeing as this is a USB-C world. But that’s a minor gripe that I got past quickly.

The back of the Roku Ultra has a USB-A port, an HDMI port, Ethernet, and power.

As usual, setup of this Roku device is laughably easy:

  • Connect the HDMI cord to the Roku Ultra and TV
  • Plug the Roku Ultra into the power outlet using the provided power adapter
  • Change your TV to the input that the Roku Ultra is on and follow the instructions to pair your remote, create your account, and pick your channels and perform software updates on the device if required.
  • Done. Declare victory and have a beer!

One thing that I didn’t mention is that the Roku Ultra has the ability to connect over WiFi 5 as well as Ethernet which is 10/100 Mbps (which may strike you as odd, but you only need 25 Mbps or so for a 4K HDR stream so it’s fine). That’s great as that gives you a second option if your WiFi sucks for whatever reason. Which of course will affect the quality of the streams that you watch. And as usual, the selection of channels is impressive. Roku has pretty much anything and everything that you could possibly want. And navigating through the user interface is dead easy.

So, this all sounds like every other Roku review that I have done. Well, there are some things that stand out with the Roku Ultra that I would like to highlight:

  •  Dolby Vision is on board along with HDR10+. That means that if you have a TV that supports HDR generally, or either one of those standards specifically, and you use content that is encoded in either one of those standards, colours will just pop and in the case of Dolby Vision, the picture will be as accurate as it would be at your local movie theatre. Especially if that TV has a mini-LED or OLED display.
  • Dolby Atmos is on board this time around which means that if you have an audio system that supports this, audio will simply be top shelf.
  • The remote is a serious step forward for Roku as you can use hands-free voice commands, set personal shortcuts for your favorite channels, control your TV, and the like. And if you lose the remote, you can find it using the Roku Official Remote Control App a sonar sound that comes out of the remote’s speaker. Plus I could also listen to shows and music through the Roku Ultra through the pair of provided headphones.

But the main thing that I noticed about this iteration of the Roku Ultra is how fast it was. This is unlike a lot of its competition where switching from menu to menu can often be a jittery experience. One last thing that I would like to point out is that the Roku Ultra ships with Roku OS 11.5. I wrote about the fact that this brings Apple Fitness+ integration here, which means that you also have one less reason to buy an Apple TV. Especially since it supports HomeKit and AirPlay. Though I will also mention that it also support Google Home and Amazon Alexa.

So, at $129 Canadian when I checked on Amazon, is this worth it? Hands down, the Roku Ultra is one of the best streaming device solutions on the market today. It offers one of the most powerful devices on an easy to use platform with integrated functionalities, such as the ability to connect over Ethernet or WiFi, and control the device with your voice. Combine that with the addition of HDR10+ along with Dolby Atmos and Dolby Vision, and the return of smart home support makes this streaming device a compelling value. If you’re in the market for a streaming device, the Roku Ultra has to be on your list.

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