Roku Express 4K+ As A Travel Streaming Device
Roku just announced their latest device, the Roku Express 4K+. This new device is making waves for a substantial reason. It’s relatively small, can stream in full 4K and in really inexpensive. For us here at Go Connect this criteria means it may make a great travel streaming device.
In fact, it caught our eye because the latest edition of the Roku Streaming Stick+ costs $50, while the new Roku Express 4K+ costs only $40 yet has better performance overall.
At a high level teh new Roku Express 4K+ offers a number of benefits:
- Faster processor
- Dual band WiFi
- Voice control
- Airplay support
Roku Express 4K+ For Travel
We like the idea of the Roku Express 4K+ as a travel device a lot. The original Roku Express was pretty similar in size to the Roku Steaming Stick, and we expect the new device to be similar. In addition the Express is slightly more powerful, and the new Roku Express 4K+ plans to build on that.
There are a few downsides. While the Roku Express physically wasn’t much larger than the Streaming Stick, it did require a separate HDMI cable. The Roku Streaming Stick plugs right into the TV. It’s a small thing in larger scale but it’s one more thing to carry and potentially lose.
While 4K and HDR support is fantastic you may find the use for these while traveling limited. While HD TVs are finally common place in most hotels and Airbnbs, 4K TVs are pretty limited. TVs that support HDR are even more rare.
Also, given the notorious poor hotel WiFi and Airbnbs, which often struggle to keep up witih HD streaming, it’s not highly likely you’ll find WiFi good enough for a 4K with HDR stream. In fact, most 4G LTE cellular hotspots will struggle to provide a reliable 4K HDR stream with requires 25mbps to stream.
Still, given that the Roku Express 4K+ clocks in at $40 which is comparable to the Amazon Fire TV Stick and Google Chromecast, and less than the Roku Streaming Stick+. That means even if you don’t get to take advantage of the 4K or HDR on the road it’s still a great value as a travel device, whether dedicated or shared.
What You Need To Travel With Your Roku
If you don’t currently travel with a Roku, or use a different brand of streaming device for travel, here are some things to know. Taking a Roku with you when traveling is pretty easy. There are a few features you should know about.
What are captive portals? They are the popups you get that prompt you to login or provide additional information prior to using the Hotel, AirBnb or other locations WiFi. For regular hotel travelers they are a primary feature for sure. Very few hotels allow you to use their WiFi without accepting terms and conditions, entering a room name, an additional password screen or other consideration.
All Roku devices have a special feature to deal with captive portals. When connecting to WIFi you can let it know you are in a hotel or dorm room. It popups and gives you a code you can enter on your phone where you can then complete the captive portal login there, rather than on the Roku.
A travel router can help you avoid this extra step. With a travel router once you pass the captive portal on one device, usually your phone or laptop, any additional devices you connect will work normally.
Automatic Remote Config
Something rarely discussed by non-travel sites is the automatic remote configuration, a feature of many streaming devices. While at home setting up your remote is a one time need, at least until you buy a new TV. When traveling each new location has a new TV. If you want to be able to use a single remote to control the volume and power on your TV and your streaming device, you’ll likely want a device that can automatically detect the TV.
For the devices that have this feature, all you need to do is connect via HDMI to a newer TV. Most TVs since 2016 support identification via HDMI that the supported devices can use to configure the remotes.
All Roku’s support this feature, and we’d expect the Roku Express 4K+ to be no different.
Travel WiFi Performance
In our recent comparison of Streaming Stick WiFi Performance, the Roku was tied at the top. Given the new Roku Express 4K+ improved processor and WiFi performance we expect it to remain at the top. The Roku Express 4K+ should outperform the Roku Streaming Stick even in travel situations.
Roku When Traveling vs. Provided Internet TV
Streaming App Selection
While many hotels and Airbnbs are beginning to provide smart TVs, you may find the available streaming app selection limited. Most hotels only offer between 4-6 streaming channels. Also, in order to use the popular services like Netflix or Amazon you’ll need to enter your own account username and password.
Airbnb’s often include a streaming device with your stay. Many even include services like Netflix or Amazon. However, if they do not or if you want to use a service that is not included with your stay it is a much better idea to bring your own streaming device.
Security should always be a concern. Anytime you have to internet a username and password into any app, TV or web page you should ensure they are secure. Many hotels and Airbnbs “provide” smart or internet TVs with your stay. However, in order to access all of your favorite streaming channels you may need to enter your username and password. We do not recommend this, and instead recommend you bring your own streaming device when traveling so you do not need to enter information into someone else’s TV or device.
In addition to concerns about entering your password into those systems, and whether they will truly be cleared at checkout, its a hassle to enter a username and password with each stay. If you travel for business where you are in a different location almost every night, this becomes a huge burden in addition to a substantial safety concern. Each time you stay and enter your password you increase the odds your account will still be active for the next guest.
What Do You Need To Travel With A Roku
In addition to the travel specific features of any streaming device you’ll also need to make sure you can get access to three things.
- An HDMI port on your hotel or Airbnb TV
- A power source
- Agility to the connect to the WiFi
Common Problems and Solutions
Finding Power For Your Streaming Stick In A Hotel – Many hotel rooms don’t make it easy to find power sources for yor streaming stick. Here are a few tips and tricks that may help you.
Changing Input On Hotel TVs – many hotel TVs don’t make it easy or obvious how to change the input on the TV. This guide will provide a few tips and tricks.
Dealing With Captive Portal Issues – if you do have a problem with the captive portal at your hotel or other travel location this guide provides common solutions and work arounds.
Lost or Forgotten Remote or Dead Batteries – it stands to reason if you travel regularly with your Roku device at some point you may lose or forget your remote, or the batteries will die. This guide will offer some solutions and work arounds.