Should You Buy a Roku Box or a New Smart TV?

Roku has become the most popular method for turning a regular TV into a smart one complete with Netflix, Hulu and hundreds of other apps and games. Starting at only $29.99, price is a clear advantage to buying a Roku box.

Is a Roku set-top box enough or is a new TV a better long-term investment? | Photo: Steve Johnson
Is a Roku set-top box enough or is a new TV a better long-term investment? | Photo: Steve Johnson

But depending on how old your current TV is, you might be considering just buying a brand new TV. Many smart TVs these days have software of their own with plenty of apps. Either that or they include Roku preloaded in which case you don’t need a separate set-top box. But which option is the best long term: a new TV with Roku already ready to go or a Roku set-top box for your current TV?

Consider the Age of Your Current TV

Photo: Shutterstock
Photo: Shutterstock

If you’re TV is working just fine now, I would not recommend buying a new TV.

The fantastic aspect of buying a television is the great longevity. Some people keep their televisions for north of 10 years. It’s understandable especially if you’re spending thousands of dollars on one.

However, if you feel like your picture quality is starting to suffer compared to newer TVs or you notice issues beginning to develop with the function, it might be time for a new one. If that’s the case, definitely spring for a smart TV. They often aren’t much more than regular TVs but they unlock a plethora of new features to enjoy, especially those with Roku.

Realistically though, if your TV is working just fine now, I would not recommend buying a new TV. This is so different from smartphone upgrades because usually after two years I recommend anyone upgrade regardless of how their current phone is working. But TVs don’t change very much in two or even five years. You shouldn’t have to shell out hundreds of dollars just because you want some apps.

Roku Box is Portable

Photo: Mike Mozart/Flickr CC
Photo: Mike Mozart/Flickr CC

One of the primary benefits of opting for a set-top box over a TV besides the price is the portability. If you’re going on vacation or even just going to someone’s house without a Roku, you can just bring yours. The Roku is small and light enough to bring pretty much everywhere. Just don’t forget the remote and cables.

TVs, on the other hand, aren’t so portable. If you buy a smart TV, know that the apps on that TV aren’t going anywhere. They’re staying right there. You can move Roku boxes around the house, bring it on trips, or share them.

That said, if portability is a priority, stick with either the Roku Express, Express+ or the Streaming Stick. You’re in luck because these are the most affordable models at $29.99, $39.99 and $49.99 respectively. They’re also the smallest and lightest to carry around. Just know you won’t get the advanced remote or 4K compatibility with them.

What About a New Less-Smart TV?

Photo: Shutterstock
Photo: Shutterstock

Less-smart TV + Roku set-top box combination is likely the most money spent, but also the best long-term investment.

If you are in the market for a new TV, consider this: a regular, not-smart TV plus a Roku set-top box. This might be the most widely practical combination. TVs without apps and internet built in aren’t lacking in quality at all. They’re still perfectly capable of producing great picture and sound.

Buy a regular television and also a Roku box to hook up separately. That way, you have a new TV with any inherent improvements in technology plus the portability and flexibility of a Roku set-top box. This combination is likely the most money spent, but it’s also the best long-term investment.

ALSO READ: What’s the Difference Between 4K Ultra HD, Curved, OLED TVs and Do You Need Them?

George Tinari

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