Roku Extremely 2020 evaluate: If it ain’t broke, do not repair it

The Roku Extremely has all the time been a high quality 4K HDR streamer. Because the flagship in Roku’s intensive line of sticks and gamers, its bag of nifty methods features a distant finder, programmable distant buttons and an Ethernet port — which is perhaps particularly welcome now when dwelling Wi-Fi networks are extra careworn than ever. For 2020 it provides higher Wi-Fi, a sooner processor and the power to stream in Dolby Imaginative and prescient — a long-awaited function that enables it to raised compete with one of the best streamers from Amazon, Apple and Google. 

LikeSupports Dolby Imaginative and prescient 4K HDRRemote finder is awesomeCan join by way of Ethernet

Do not LikeTwice the value of Streaming Stick PlusWeaker voice assistant than Amazon and Google streamersNo HBO Max

All of these options are good additions, making the 2020 Extremely a worthwhile improve for many who worth the additional conveniences, desire connecting the gadget by way of Ethernet or need Dolby Imaginative and prescient. However its important options, particularly entry to our favourite streaming platform in 4K HDR, a voice distant that may management a TV and Apple AirPlay help are additionally accessible within the Roku Streaming Stick Plus for half as a lot cash. The Roku Extremely does not do sufficient to push the capabilities of what a streaming participant can do, making it a tricky promote over the Streaming Stick Plus for most individuals.

Learn extra: Roku Extremely vs. Apple TV 4K: Battle of the high-end streaming containers

Small tweaks to a well-recognized design

The Extremely is the one Roku that may hook up with wired Ethernet.

Sarah Tew/CNET

On the floor, Roku made a number of modifications to the look of the field. Gone is the shiny plastic across the sides, changed with a brand new tapered matte-like plastic. Neither design was going to win any awards however the smaller field ought to nonetheless match high quality in a cupboard or on a stand below your TV. 

The distant finder button has been moved from its location left of the Roku identify on the highest of the field to the correct facet of the gadget, and the microSD card slot that was current on final yr’s gadget has been eliminated. The USB-A port has additionally moved from the right-side of final yr’s Extremely to the again on this yr’s mannequin. 

The DC energy continues to be proprietary, which can be high quality however it could’ve been good to see USB-C in case you lose the adapter. 

The distant nonetheless contains the identical plastic end and rubber buttons as different Roku units, with quantity controls on the correct facet and a 3.5mm headphone jack for personal listening on the left. In contrast to final yr’s Extremely, the streaming maker does not tout that the included buds are “premium JBL” headphones (they’re as an alternative Roku-made ones), however they get the job achieved. 

The Extremely contains headphones that may be plugged into the distant. 

Sarah Tew/CNET

There’s Bluetooth on the Extremely, however this will solely be used for streaming audio from a telephone, pill or laptop and never for pairing Bluetooth headphones. I am undecided how helpful the function is, given how Roku has apps for plenty of music companies together with Pandora, Spotify and Amazon Music, to not point out the YouTube app. Maybe it might assist YouTube Music or Apple Music customers who cannot join in any other case to their sound methods. 

The distant finder function stays one in all my favourite options in regards to the Extremely and one which I want each streaming gadget would incorporate. 

The distant additionally has two programmable shortcut buttons along with the Roku preloaded choices for Netflix, Disney Plus, Hulu and Sling TV. Similar to final yr, you’ll be able to have it set to no matter your final voice command was, equivalent to opening an app like Peacock or ESPN or doing a activity like looking for a favourite film or TV present. 

A formidable interface however a weak voice assistant

The distant appears just about precisely prefer it did final yr.

Sarah Tew/CNET

As you’ll anticipate, Roku’s interface works nice on the Extremely’s quad-core processor. Apps, films and reveals opened rapidly and playback regarded good for 4K, 4K HDR and common HD content material on my TCL P605 TV, the 2017 model of TCL’s spectacular 6-Collection.

Though you’ll be able to management the Roku with Google Assistant or Amazon Alexa, neither voice assistant is baked immediately into the gadget, one thing that turns into far more obvious when evaluating it to Amazon and Google’s newest units. Google’s new Chromecast with Google TV shines largely because of Assistant, and I actually missed the power to simply say “play The Tonight Present” or “go to the World Collection” and have the Roku routinely change to the right app. Google does this integration properly with YouTube TV and Amazon does it with Sling TV. 

The Roku interface has remained the identical for years.

CNET employees

Roku’s voice assistant can be dumb on the subject of realizing when occasions are taking place and could not reply primary questions like when the Giants and Eagles recreation was or what time was the presidential debate. Because it already works with each platforms, it could be nice to see Roku add help for Alexa or Google Assistant immediately into the software program sooner or later. 

Relating to playback, the Extremely is quick when asking for particular titles. Asking the Roku to play Avengers Endgame from the house display took roughly 35 seconds on my previous Roku TV in comparison with simply 18 seconds on the Extremely, which advantages from having sooner Wi-Fi chips and a greater processor than the 2017 TV (although the Extremely doesn’t embrace help for the brand new Wi-Fi 6 customary).

Asking to play The Boys on Amazon Prime video took about 26 seconds on the brand new Extremely, in comparison with roughly 39 seconds on my older Roku TV.   

A part of the pace on playback might come from these improved Wi-Fi capabilities. Roku touts the brand new Extremely as having 50% extra vary in comparison with final yr’s mannequin. Whereas I could not check that a lot in my New York condo, the sooner playback of reveals and films in comparison with my Roku TV bodes properly for a efficiency increase. 

One factor that was sluggish on each the TV and the brand new Extremely, nonetheless, is asking the Roku assistant to do duties past title searches — from wanting up a film to switching apps. This takes a bit extra time than both Alexa or the Google Assistant, with Roku having a default pop-up and seven-second countdown clock simply in case you need to keep within the app you might be in. I want there was a technique to take away or shorten this countdown however no such choice exists in Settings.

Peacock is on the market on Roku however the platform continues to be lacking HBO Max.

David Katzmaier/CNET
Sturdy app help with the welcome addition of Dolby Imaginative and prescient and Atmos 

As for apps, Roku continues to impress with help for almost all main streaming companies with the notable exception persevering with to be HBO Max. Help for Apple AirPlay is a pleasant perk and a minimum of permits Apple customers to stream the app from iOS and Macs, however that is not as handy as a local HBO Max app.

Streaming service help




Apple TV Plus





Hearth TV




Chromecast with Google TV




Apple TV




On the brilliant facet, apps equivalent to Disney Plus help Dolby Imaginative and prescient and Atmos (which is smart as appropriate Roku 4K TVs have had Dolby Imaginative and prescient help for some time). Netflix, Vudu and Apple TV Plus even have reveals and films accessible in Dolby Imaginative and prescient and Atmos, although there isn’t any simple technique to see a full listing of which apps work with the premium HDR and sound format. 

Lack of help for Dolby Imaginative and prescient was notable on final yr’s mannequin, so it is good to see it current right here. Whereas my Sonos Beam does not help Dolby Atmos, Dolby Imaginative and prescient content material appeared to play high quality on my TCL. As did common 4K HDR content material together with The Boys on Amazon Prime Video and the Kansas Metropolis Chiefs versus Buffalo Payments recreation on the Fox Sports activities app. 

As with different Dolby Imaginative and prescient units, in case your TV helps Dolby Imaginative and prescient all menus and content material are acknowledged by the TV as that customary no matter whether or not the precise service, film or present is within the premium viewing format. This wasn’t an issue and non-4K HDR content material (equivalent to SportsCenter on Sling TV or YouTube movies) nonetheless regarded high quality. 

Yet one more factor about apps: I want Roku made it simpler to improve from one participant to a different. Establishing the Roku is easy, however when you’re upgrading from an older gadget it could be nice if the system preloaded your apps and logged you in versus having you undergo the method of logging in once more. It is a small gripe, however one which ought to be fastened in 2020.

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