Roku Ultra vs Roku 4

Hi Folks,

I want to get a Roku for the TV in my basement which does not pass thru 5.1 to optical audio thru HDMI. So I am thinking of getting either a Roku 4 (cheaper around $60 on NewEgg) or Roku Ultra (around $120 on Amazon). The question I have was is there a major or any difference between the 2 or was it just rebranding exercise done by Roku? If no major differences, issues or bugs I’d rather get the Roku for due to the cheaper price.This way I can get the 5.1 surround sound by connecting my sound system to Roku for Netflix, Amazon etc. Don’t get me started on Tablo not supporting 5.1 :grin:

Hope my question makes sense. Yes I did do a search but could not really find a good direct comparison that answered my questions.


One weakness of the older Roku 4 is that it has a fan. The new line of Rokus do not. I didn’t own a Roku 4, so I am not sure how loud it is.

Have you looked at the Premiere and Premiere + models as well? Here a comparison of the new ones:

The Roku 4 is similar, and it has voice search and remote find. It will not do HDR like the Premier + and Ultra, and it doesn’t have the optical port like the Ultra.

I have the Premiere + (along with two Roku 3 boxes) and like it a lot.

My Roku 4 fan is whisper quiet.
However, I did have to send 2 others back, cuz they sounded like jet engines a majority of the time.

Thanks for the info about the fan. My TV is an older (~5yrs) 52 inch Sharp, so no 4k. The roku ultra is really overkill, BUT, I do want the 5.1 surround sound. So the only reason I am looking at these 2 models is for the optical audio output.

Did you mean, you had to send 2 other Roku 4 back? I am planning buying a refurbished one from newegg, so I am not sure if I have too many option if I get bad egg (pun intended)

Yes, I had to send them back to as faulty.
Same reason for both.
Excessive fan noise.

My Roku 4 is pretty much silent as well…and I didn’t have to return any to get one that way. Soon after the Roku 4 release, Roku recalled a batch of Roku 4s due to excessive fan noise. Mine was purchased very shortly after release, but wasn’t part of that recall.
That being said, I’d still prefer a fanless solution, as the fan will one day either get noisy or just quit.

Thanks for the replies and info. I think will roll the dice with the refurbished Roku 4 for $60…

I have both and like the Ultra much more. Major changes are:

  • Converts Dolby Digital Plus to standard Dolby Surround.
  • No Fan
  • Less Power Consumption
  • Remote has less dropouts / disconnects (Really noticeable if using the headphone Jack)
  • Remote has Both the Voice Search Button AND the 15 second skip back button

The top bullet is the main reason I got the Ultra, I have an older surround sound that does not do DD+. Roku indicated right after the 4 came out that it would be able to convert DD+ to DD via firmware update but they never followed through with that.

The Ultra has it out of the box.

In other words, with the 4, I would only get stereo sound for any videos only offering DD+,which includes almost everything on Amazon & Netflix. With the Ultra, my older surround sound system works perfectly.

The Ultra did have some quirks at the beginning, it did not play well with my media server, but working with Roku support I was able to provide examples and they corrected that in the most recent firmware. It also doesn’t offer Screen mirroring yet but I rarely use that and can get around it with other features / software anyway.

Thanks very much, this is exactly the type of comparison I was looking for. The reason I am even considering a Roku 4 (or Ultra) is only for the surround sound from sources such as Netflix, Amazon (and Tablo if it happens anytime soon) etc using the optical audio out from Roku instead of the TV. I do have a new Vizio SmartCast 5.1 Soundbar System (SB4551-D5).

Do you know if the fact that the Roku 4 will not convert DD+ to DD will be a problem for my setup? Or is it only an issue with older sound systems? Sounds like I may be ok with a newer sound system, but just want to make sure.

According to this link:

Page 27, 7th Row. That Sound Bar system can only do DD+ across HDMI, so it DOES appear that you may have an issue with trying to use the optical out on the Roku 4…

Text reads: “Dolby Digital and DTS are available on the Coaxial In, HDMI ARC, HDMI In, and
Digital Optical Audio In inputs. Dolby Digital Plus is only available on HDMI
In input. When a Dolby Digital or DTS signal is detected, the Dolby Digital Plus
(White) / DTS (Amber) indicator LED will light up for 5 seconds before fading away.”

Thanks, shame on me for not reading the manual :blush:

Since my refurbished Roku 4 is on the way, I’ll give it a try. Maybe I can use HDMI instead.

1 Like

@Daniel454 thanks for the help on this so far. Good news and bad news, the refurbished Roku 4 I ordered does not work, so I will be returning it and probably getting the Roku Ultra… If I do get the ultra and I can connect my vizio sound system to the roku via the digital audio cable and I will get surround sound right, since it can convert DD+ to DD?

Yep, answered my questions too, Thanks.

Sorry for the slow response, busy weekend.

Yes, that is correct, the Roku Ultra SHOULD auto detect and convert, but if it doesn’t, you can manually set it to do so in the Audio setting menu.

Bottom line though, if your audio system can not do DD+ on optical, and you wish to use optical, the Roku Ultra will make the conversion and you WILL have DD 5.1 surround.

One quick update…

The Good news:
Roku has added a few features and smashed some bugs with the latest firmware (7.5.1) for the Ultra (and likely most if not all of the new line, I don’t have the others to say for sure).

  • Added Screen mirroring. (Android devices and Windows Miracast)
  • Fixes some minor quirks with DLNA local streaming
  • Adds support for vision impaired (screen reading, text-to-speech Audio Guide)
  • Added CEC control of volume… Allows you to change the volume of your TV / Audio receiver with the side volume buttons on the Roku remote… (Only works on SOME models following very strict official CEC standards. Many brands (LG / Samsung) use their own version and may not work)
  • Corrects some flaws in the 4K HDR for some 4K TVs (Down converts 12 bit to 10 bit)
  • And finally, corrects some audio sync issues for newer Audio systems using DOLBY ATMOS

I had none of those issues other than the DLNA media issue but since they were discussed on the Roku forums I thought they may be worth mentioning here.

! EDIT ! - The BAD news I had previously mentioned (firmware not retaining update) has been fixed as of 10 minutes ago. My ultra is running and staying…

Thinking about upgrading HD tv… besides cost -thoughts on the best service from the above ----4k Ultra OLED Curve …



Generally speaking, with regards to “4K” (today’s 4K and not yesterday’s 4K or the 4K before that, or the one before that)…

4K (Ultra, Mega Ultra, Mighty Stupid Insane Mega Ultra) is still a moving target. And ATSC 3 is coming, so even more changes that will make you throw away your $80K laser projector (exaggeration).

My point, if you need a 4K TV now, I’d plan on something you’re “ok” replacing in 2-5 years. In other words, if you’re a 7+ year person, changes happening in the next year or two or possibly three will begin to frustrate you. IMHO

I own a (can’t buy this anymore) 1080p OLED TV. Why? For the reasons above. Timing for all of this couldn’t have been worse. I mean, they are forcing everyone to buy a 4K TV and if yours isn’t already (roughly) obsolete technology wise, it’s going to be. And that really hurts when you have the advent of technology like affordable OLED, affordable being on the high end fringe of affordability for most. Most people want the “best”, but the best isn’t really achievable when the target moves from year to year (that is quickly).

If you have the cash to burn, get an OLED. You’ll love it. And in three years, I’m sure you’ll love the OLED you will replace it with :slight_smile:

My OLED already has over 2 years of age on it. I won’t be feeling nearly as much pain when ATSC 3 becomes the thing everyone wants (noting it also means a new Tablo device, and there’s nothing saying that will cheap in any way) in two to three years.

If I were forced to buy now, I’d buy a reasonable cheaper LED/LCD TV so I don’t feel quite as sad chunking it in a few years.

With that said, there’s nothing saying that the wave of fast paced changes is about to stabilize in 3 - 5 years. It might not… then of course, we’re all sad :frowning:

Not trying to paint a really bleak picture. But it certainly helps if you’re comfortable spending a couple of thousand on a device that might frustrate you in as little as 3 years. Otherwise, I’d probably play it safer and go with a more affordable TV and do a bit of waiting yet. You know the world changes for sure post ATSC 3.0 (and again, it will mean a new Tablo as well).

If you can wait, wait. If not, hope you get something you can live with.

(I really like my LG 55eg9100 TV btw, more than enough for my house. I paid $1300 new, over two years ago. Set is on for at least 12-14 hours every day.)


Thanks cjcox

If what you are looking for primarily is 4K/HDR to be able to watch some of the newer content, I’d go with something like a TCL Roku TV. Right now they are the performance vs price leader.

I wanted to dabble in 4K content but not spend a ton and was able to grab a 49" 2017 mid-range TCL Roku TV (49S405) for $300 and have been very happy with it. The TCL P series is a step up but with everything in flux right now $300 is really all I wanted to drop for something that like @cjcox said may EOL in a couple of years.