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Roku Express Gets Better Wi-Fi, Remains Affordable at $30

In its first refresh in three years, the entry-level streaming device doesn't change a whole lot.

A Roku Express box with the device in the foreground.
The 2022 Roku Express will be released in October.
Roku

Roku is updating the tech in its cheapest streaming device, the Roku Express. The refreshed Express, coming in mid-October, adds dual-band Wi-Fi for enhanced internet speeds, along with a new processor and more storage so that channels can launch more quickly. The streaming device will cost $30 and is available to preorder now through the Roku, Walmart and Amazon websites. The company expects general availability at major retailers to begin on Oct. 16. 

This marks the first update to the Roku Express in three years. The Express was last updated in 2019, when it also launched for $30. It has since hovered around $25, but has hit a low of $18 during holiday sales. 

The 2022 Express retains the bare-bones features of the previous model, including its basic infrared remote you have to aim at the TV and the ability to play video at 1080p resolution. Those who want the best picture out of their 4K TVs, or who want a better remote, will have to opt for a (slightly) more expensive Roku. 

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The Roku Express 4K Plus is the next step up in the lineup and gives you 4K HDR playback along with a remote that supports voice commands, doesn't have to be aimed at the TV and can control TV volume and power. That model is one of CNET's top picks because it's one of the least expensive ways to get 4K HDR on your TV.  While it's normally listed at $40, the Express 4K Plus is often available for $30 or less.

While we'll have to wait to review the new Express, our general advice is that the Express 4K Plus tends to offer most people the best overall value. In other words, it's worth an extra $10 for the remote and 4K in our book.

Meanwhile, CNET's favorite budget streaming device is currently the Amazon Fire TV Stick Lite. We prefer Roku's menus and search results to those of Fire TV, but the Lite's superior point-anywhere voice remote with Alexa makes it a better buy if you just want a cheap HD streamer.

Separately, Roku also announced a new $130 called the Roku Wireless Bass, as well as the latest software update for its streamers and TVs.