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What is a Roku TV? What you need to know about TVs with Roku built-in
Smart TVs are ubiquitous these days, and while big brands like Samsung and Sony occupy significant market share, other options exist. Roku might be known for its streaming adapters, but it also has smart TVs. Here’s a rundown of what a Roku TV is and the models available.
What is a Roku TV?
To put it simply, a Roku TV is like any other smart TV, meaning it’s a TV that lets you use internet streaming services, apps, and other features, such as voice controls, without having to use any external devices. Roku licenses other manufacturers to make Roku TVs, including Onn, Sharp, RCA, Hisense, and others. What sets Roku TVs apart from other brands is that they run Roku OS. The OS is what makes it possible to use those apps, streaming services, voice controls, and more.
A Roku TV is a TV that runs the Roku OS.
When you first turn on a Roku TV, you’ll see the home screen. From here, you can access streaming apps like Netflix, Disney Plus, and others, watch conventional broadcast or cable television, change settings, and more. Depending on your model of Roku TV, you can also adjust certain picture settings. And if you have audio products marked with the Roku TV Ready logo, you can integrate them into your home theater setup as well.
How is Roku TV different from a Roku Streaming Stick?
While this guide is about Roku TVs, Roku might be more famous for its Streaming Sticks and boxes. These are separate adapters you can attach to any TV to use Roku services.
If you already like your TV, this option may be best for you, but if you’re in the market for a new TV and like Roku, a Roku TV might better fit the bill. On the other hand, a Roku Streaming Stick has the advantage of working on nearly any TV with an HDMI port. Plus, a Streaming Stick is much cheaper than an entirely new TV.
But it does have some downsides. For instance, you will have to keep track of two remotes: the Roku remote and your TV remote. Furthermore, the integration between your TV and the content you play won’t be very tight.
The difference between Roku TVs and other smart TVs
As we mentioned briefly earlier, what sets a Roku TV apart from other smart TVs is Roku OS. Roku TV works like most other smart TV operating systems.
Perhaps the most notable thing about Roku OS is how it can work with other ecosystems. Instead of locking you into one voice assistant, you can use Google Assistant, Amazon Alexa, or Apple HomeKit. And because Roku has been in this business for a while, things tend to run smoothly. That’s not to say things don’t go wrong, but the overall experience is usually pretty consistent.
Roku TVs work with multiple other smart assistants, unlike some other offerings.
Some Roku TVs also tend to support picture standards like Dolby Vision and 4K HDR (depending on the specific model). That means you get an improved picture and the convenience of built-in streaming services.
Roku TV vs. Samsung TV, Apple TV, Fire TV, WebOS, and Google TV
Now that you know what Roku TV is and how it stands out against other smart TV platforms, you might wonder how it compares to some other options. One thing to note generally is that not every platform will have every streaming app available. Furthermore, proprietary smart TV operating systems tend to lag behind Roku regarding new apps and features. With that in mind, here’s a quick rundown of other smart TV options compared to Roku.
Samsung Tizen TV
Samsung uses an operating system known as Tizen on its smart TV offerings. This creates a tightly-integrated experience with other Samsung products and Bixby, but third-party devices may not slide in as cohesively.
Samsung TVs tend to have simple user interfaces and a decent selection of apps. It’s not as extensive as other options but still varied enough to contain YouTube, Prime Video apps, and others. You also get Samsung TV Plus, which offers free TV and some movies.
However, some people may find the simple user interface of Tizen downright limiting. Additionally, quality control can sometimes be spotty, and the search feature isn’t as robust as on other smart TV operating systems.
Apple doesn’t manufacture TVs, so you must purchase a separate Apple TV device to use their smart TV options — not to be confused with the streaming service Apple TV Plus.
If you’re counting on the ease of use and integration that a smart TV gives you, then using a set-top box like Apple TV may not be for you. But Apple TV might make sense if you’re immersed in the Apple ecosystem.
You can choose the Apple TV 4K or Apple TV HD, depending on what your TV supports and how you want to watch content. One notable feature of the Apple TV 4K is Apple Arace, which lets you browse an extensive library of games.
Amazon’s offering in the smart TV world is Fire TV. Like Roku, you can buy Fire TV Streaming Sticks or televisions with Fire TV built-in. As expected, it lets you use Alexa for voice commands but not other assistants. As for apps, you cannot access the entire Google Play Store even though Fire TV is Android-based, but you can install some additional apps.
A Fire TV will likely fit in with your lifestyle if you’re already a fan of Amazon’s services. You can also access cloud-based gaming services like Apple TV 4K.
LG’s smart TVs run WebOS. It has an interface that occupies the entire screen and works with Bluetooth accessories like keyboards. You can also choose to use Google Assistant or Amazon Alexa as your voice assistant.
WebOS lets use live apps, which let you pause content in one app, then come back later and resume where you left off. This could come in handy if you’re a multitasker and want to save your progress in a show or movie. However, you don’t get as many apps to choose from on WebOS compared to some other options.
Android TV and Google TV
Android TV is quite prominent, but you may not notice this at first. Just like Android phones, manufacturers put their own spin on Android TVs, so the experience is less consistent across bands. This could mean a less-than-seamless experience but also one that feels more tailored to your specific TV.
Android TVs can also stream from Chromecast, which makes it convenient to stream content you might not have access to using built-in apps. And as expected, Google Assistant is your voice command option.
Google TV is the latest iteration of Android TV. It uses algorithms and suggestions to show you new content. You get access to many streaming services, including 43 of the most popular such as Peacock, Discovery Plus, Crackle, and many more.
Should I buy a Roku TV?
If you’re considering a Roku TV, it could make sense for you if you want a fully-integrated device with one remote to keep track of. Roku works with other smart device ecosystems, too, making it easy to integrate into existing setups. Plus, the interface is easy to use, and you have a decent selection of apps to browse.
Roku also tends to update its OS and add new features faster than proprietary smart TVs, which could be handy if you demand the latest and greatest.
However, you lose flexibility if you choose a TV with Roku built-in. You’ll be tied to Roku services unless you buy an adapter or set-top box from another brand, which introduces the hassles of buying a separate device.
Frequently asked questions about Roku TV
Roku TVs come in HD, 4K, and 8K resolutions and range from 24-inches on up.
No, Roku licenses its OS and name to manufacturers like Onn, Sharp, and others who make the TV itself.
No, Roku TV is the name applied to smart TVs that run Roku OS as built-in software.
A Roku TV is a type of smart TV A smart TV that uses a built-in Roku operating system connect to access apps for streaming services like Netflix, Hulu, or Amazon Prime Video.
There is no monthly fee to use a Roku TV itself. However, while many channels and apps are free, others, like Netflix or Hulu, require their own monthly subscription fees.
The purpose of having a Roku TV is to access a large variety of streaming services and apps without needing a separate streaming device. With a Roku TV, you can watch content from numerous sources, like Netflix, Amazon Prime Video, Hulu, and many more, all in one place.
Yes, you can watch regular TV on a Roku TV. Roku devices have tuner inputs that allow you to connect an antenna to watch over-the-air television broadcasts. Additionally, many cable providers offer apps that let you stream live TV directly through the Roku interface.
Yes, ABC, NBC, and CBS all have apps available on the Roku platform, allowing you to stream their content. However, live and local content may require a subscription to their respective streaming services. Also, for live broadcasts, it depends on the market and whether these channels have agreements with Roku in your area.
All Roku devices come with the free Roku channel, which offers over 250 live channels, Roku Originals series, popular movies, children’s programming, and more.