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Should You Upgrade Your Roku Model for a Better OTA Experience?


A large majority of Tablo customers use a Roku as their primary streaming device. And for good reason! Roku streaming set-top-boxes, sticks and Roku-enabled Smart TVs are easy-to-use, come in a variety of price points and are available in most electronics and ‘big box’ stores in Canada and the United States. However, if you’ve been rocking a ‘numbered’ Roku – or an even older model – as your preferred TV viewing device, it may be time for an upgrade.

tablo upgrade roku cord cutting

Keep reading to find out why…

How Old is Your Roku?

Roku XD S model image with remote

A decade ago, Roku launched its first streaming device. It has since shipped seven different generations of boxes and sticks, with varying configurations.

Between 2011 and 2015, streaming TV popularity increased dramatically and many cord cutters purchased 3rd and 4th generation streaming devices (Roku 1, 2, 3 and 4), as well as the original ‘purple body’ streaming stick.

Roku Streaming Stick model

While some of these Rokus – notably the Roku 3 and Roku 4 – are still powerful enough to be great ‘daily drivers’ for most cord cutters, other models are likely starting to show their age.

Not sure which model of Roku you have? Go to your Roku’s Home screen and select SETTINGS > SYSTEM > ABOUT > OK.

How to check your Roku model number

The model number will be listed at the top.

If need be, you can cross check the model number with this list.

Why should you upgrade your Roku to a newer model?

Roku Premiere+ and Ultra models

Streaming TV technology has advanced significantly over the past 5 years. Device manufacturers can now pack better and faster tech into smaller spaces, for lower prices.

But there are a few key differences that most newer Roku models bring to the table including:

Better Speed, Performance and Memory

Roku Ultra model with remote

Onboard graphics acceleration on newer, higher-end Roku models allows the devices to perform display functions like drawing menus and showing video at the same time as basic tasks like sending and receiving data. As apps (which Roku calls channels) become more complex, a lack of graphics acceleration can result in sluggish menu navigation at best, or at worst some features being disabled.

Older and lower-end Roku models will have slower WiFi connections (single-band a/b/g/n) which can result in buffering, especially on higher-quality video streams. Look for Roku devices with the current dual-band a/c WiFi standard, especially if you’re not planning to connect your device to your home network via Ethernet.

Lower amounts of onboard memory can also cause slowdowns, especially if you have a significant number of apps/channels downloaded. Low onboard memory can also degrade the performance of features such as the amount of time a live TV stream can remain paused.

If your older Roku streaming media device has an SD card slot, adding memory in this way may provide a performance boost, especially when launching apps.

 Advanced Remotes

Roku remote functions

Several newer Roku models also come with enhanced remote controls designed to make cord cutting even easier with power and volume controls that work with most TV sets. For those with family members easily confused by juggling multiple remotes, this can be a huge game-changer.

If you’re upgrading, you’ll also want to pick a Roku streaming media player that offers an ‘infrared’ or IR option on the remote. While the range on IR remotes is shorter, some folks have reported that WiFi-only remotes have caused significant interference with other WiFi-connected devices when the Roku device is also connected via WiFi.

Rokus to Toss, Keep, & Get

Here’s a quick cheat sheet of the popular Roku models you should either toss, keep for the time being, or get if you’re shopping for a new model.


tablo roku toss keep get

Roku Set-Top-Box or Stick vs. Roku Smart TV

Roku 4K HDR Smart TV

Today 1-in-4 TVs sold in the United States uses Roku as its operating system, so if you’re also thinking that it’s time for a new TV, you might want to consider this route.

While the ‘smarts’ will eventually become obsolete, you can always ‘upgrade’ the television at a later date by connecting the latest Roku set-top-box or stick via HDMI. (Yes, this actually works and won’t cause the TV to go into an ‘Inception’-style loop.)

Roku Smart TV with Tablo OTA DVR 

Long story short, when you consider that cable and satellite customers are paying on average $231 every year to simply RENT a set-top-box, it makes financial sense to spend $60-$100 every 2-3 years to purchase a new streaming media device.

In order to maximize your cord cutting gear budget, try to choose a higher-end model with the latest technology. The longevity of these devices is worth the extra $20-$40 up front, especially if you rotate your older device to a secondary TV as you purchase newer gear for your primary television.

Liked this article?

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How to restart your phone/tablet

Sometimes, just restarting your smartphone or tablet can clear up issues with apps. The links below will provide detailed instructions on how to force close your Tablo app. 

Apple iPhone

Android smartphones 

Most Android smartphones and tablets can be restarted by holding the POWER button and then selecting RESTART or POWER OFF and RESTART from the POWER OPTIONS menu.

NOTE: Newer Samsung devices require you to hold the POWER/SIDE button and VOLUME DOWN to make the POWER OPTIONS menu appear. On the Google Pixel 6, hold the POWER and VOLUME UP buttons.

How to force close your Tablo app?

Sometimes, just restarting the app can fix things. The links below will provide detailed instructions on how to force close your Tablo app. 

Apple iPhone/iPad

Android smartphones/tablets 

Need help with the final steps?

Don’t worry, we’ve got you covered.  Follow the steps in the video below for a full walkthrough of the remaining parts of the Tablo setup process.

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