Are you ready to cut the cord in your television entertainment life? The Roku Express may be the most cost-effective answer to many of your concerns about leaving your cable or satellite television provider for good in 2022.
As reliable and affordable streaming options continue to refine their product offerings, leaving traditional television media behind is as viable an option as ever.
Should You Buy a Roku Express? Team Clark’s Review
Roku, which originated in 2008 as a way to stream Netflix content on a television, has become a leader in producing devices that make going from cable to streaming as easy as possible.
The Roku Express, which retails at $29.99, is a great entry-level option for the rookie streamer.
“I love Roku because it gives you the whole world of television all in one simple platform to watch,” says money expert Clark Howard. “No one has ever come up with a method to watch TV with such simplicity and ease as Roku.”
The purchase of a Roku Express includes the streaming device, an HDMI cable and a remote. In this article, we’ll review everything you need to know before you buy one.
1. How Roku Express Will Save You Money vs. Cable TV
First, let’s take whatever you’re paying to your local cable or satellite provider for television each month and put it right back into your pocket. From there, I think we can help most of you find a lower monthly cost for your television needs via the use of Roku Express.
You’re going to need high-speed internet to stream on a Roku Express, so keep that in the monthly budget.
As I mentioned earlier, the $29.99 price tag makes the Roku Express a true bargain. The inclusion of an HDMI cord, which can be pricey if purchased at your local retailer, is a nice bonus.
Personally, I was able to secure my Roku Express on sale at Best Buy for $24.99. Keep an eye out for opportunities to get an even better deal. It was available for $19.99 during a holiday sale in December 2021; it seems that deals pop in and out from various retailers (Staples, Walmart, etc.) all the time.
If you buy a Roku Express, gone are the days of renting a cable box for a monthly fee. You can purchase one of these for each of your televisions or share it between multiple TVs.
Comparing it to a $10 monthly cable box fee, your Roku Express will pay for itself within three months.
Roku Express offers access to both free and paid streaming services and channels. You will be able to pick and choose your entertainment offerings. The hope is that you’ll find the total of these costs to be below what your cable company charged you.
I’ll cover some of the options later on in the article.
2. Roku Express Is Priced Well Compared to Competitors
If you’re seriously considering streaming or have done it before, you likely are aware that Roku Express isn’t the only option. In fact, it’s only one of many options from Roku.
The Express is considered to be the “entry level” device for Roku at $29.99. The complete offering for Roku devices in 2022 looks like this:
- Express: $29.99
- Express 4K+: $39.99
- Streaming Stick 4K: $49.99
- Streaming Stick 4K+: $69.99
- Ultra: $99.99
- Streambar: $129.99
- Streambar Pro: $179.99
You can comparison shop those here.
Major competitors in the space include tech giants Amazon, Apple and Google. Amazon offers the Fire TV Stick and Google touts the Chromecast with Google TV. Both are priced in the range of the Roku Express but don’t come with the same perks.
Here’s a look at the purchase cost of some popular competitor streaming devices for 2022:
- Chromecast with Google TV: $49.99
- Amazon Fire TV Stick: $39.99
- Apple TV HD: $149
You also may want to consider purchasing a smart TV that has Roku functionality built in.
3. Setup Is Easy With the Roku Express
In my experience, what stops many people from taking the leap into streaming television is the fear of a new setup. Don’t be afraid. This process is mostly painless.
Roku Express sets up in minutes, and most of the process is automated. You’ll need an active high-speed internet connection to get things started. You’ll also need a power source for the Roku and a television with an available HDMI port.
Here is a video with five easy steps to get your Roku Express set up.
4. Roku Has a Robust “Featured Free” Content Section
Are you leery of paying for a streaming service such as YouTube TV, Sling, Hulu or Netflix? Roku Express actually offers enough free content to keep the casual television watcher satisfied.
Once set up on your television, the Express offers access to Roku’s “Featured Free” section that will allow you to consume content at no cost.
The no-cost options include news channels, select movies and popular network television shows. A trip to the Roku channel store via your remote will reveal quite a few free channels for download. Team Clark has reviewed many of the free television services, and we have a roundup of the best offerings available here.
The device also offers its own free channel called The Roku Channel, which gives you access to a collection of popular movies and TV shows.
Here’s a look at some of the popular free content offered (subject to change):
- ABC News
- CBS News (Live 24 hours)
- Yahoo! News & Finance
- Newsmax TV
- Stuart Little
- Dr. Doolittle
- Happy Feet
- Charlotte’s Web
- Baby Sitters Club
- My Girl
- Bachelor in Paradise
- House Hunters Renovation
- America’s Got Talent
- The Masked Singer
- Family Guy
- Forensic Files
Video platforms like YouTube also are available on the Roku Express free of charge.
5. Roku Can Stream Most Popular Paid Subscription Services
You can connect streaming subscriptions to the device.
Netflix and HBO Max are two very popular content subscription services. Both have channels available for download. Disney+ also is a popular video streaming service available on the device.
Live TV subscription services that have Roku channels available for download include:
Sports fans also will like the variety of subscription-based channels available including:
- NFL Sunday Ticket
- Fox Sports Go
- WWE Network
6. Tips and Tricks for Your Roku Express
While the ins-and-outs of the Roku Express are pretty easy to learn, we have a few pointers that may help you get comfortable quickly.
Download the Roku App on Your Cell Phone
Losing the remote is a real couch-potato problem, but fear not. You can use your cell phone as a remote when you download the Roku app. And that’s just scratching the surface of what you can accomplish on the app. You can search and browse channels, as well as launch movies and shows. It’s free and is available through both the Apple App Store and Google Play.
Use the Fandango Options on the Roku
The Roku Express comes pre-loaded with movie and television purchase options via Fandango. Think of this as your “pay-per-view” option that you may be missing from your cable subscription. You can rent or buy movies in HD right from the app. The cost to rent a “new release” film hovers around the $5.99 price point.
Fandango also offers the option to rent movies in bundles. This is an easy way to watch series like the Superman or Batman collections. Television shows are offered for purchase by the season or episode.
Set Up Your Home Screen With Your Most Used App Tiles
I’ll leave you with perhaps the most understated tip on the list. Roku has a default method for dropping tiles onto your home screen after they have been downloaded, but in most cases that’s not the most convenient way to browse them.
You can rearrange these tiles in any way you like by using your remote. While hovering over an app, push the options button on your remote. You should see the option to “Move Channel” from there. There also is the option to remove a channel from your menu on this screen.
Final Thoughts on Roku Express
We’re always looking to maximize our entertainment dollars, and the Roku Express offers a great way to do that. At an affordable price point that offers more than just your basic options, it makes sense for an entry-level streaming device.
If you’re a more advanced streaming consumer, the Express still may have a place in your life. For example, households with four or five televisions in the home could make good use of this product.
Having a couple of these on secondary televisions is a great way to maximize the savings of cord-cutting.