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While Roku has been the go-to streaming platform for many people over the past decade (myself included) and is found on millions of televisions today, there hasn't actually been a Roku television until this year. However, The company has finally ventured into producing sets with a threefold lineup -- the Select Series HD, Select Series 4K, and Plus Series QLED.
Televisions among the whole lineup range from 24 inches to 75 inches and start with a price as low as $99. The highest quality of the bunch, the Roku Plus series of TVs comes in 65, 75, and 85 inches. For the sake of this review, I tested the 65-inch Plus Series.
We know that Roku makes good quality streaming sticks, streaming boxes, and streaming platforms for other television, but does that mean it can make a good TV? Let's dive in.
Right out of the box, I was impressed with the look of this set. It's intended to be a mid-range entry, but I thought it looked more on the premium end. There's a very minimal bezel, and the brushed metal casing made this TV feel expensive. This TV does have a wide footprint with the legs pretty much all the way to the set edges -- 53 inches apart. It actually didn't fit atop my entertainment center, meaning I had to test it on the floor. If I could offer a small suggestion here, it would be to make the legs multi-position like alot of television do today.
Four HDMI ports are available (three HDMI and one HDMI eARC), but none of them are HDMI 2.1, meaning you won't get the most out of a next-generation video game console or high-end sound bar, but there is enough room for all your devices. Small quibble here… these ports were a little too close to the middle of the TV for my liking, and if I were trying to insert an HDMI cable after I had this flush-mounted on a wall, I could see it being troublesome.
The Plus Series of Roku TVs comes with the Roku Voice Remote Pro, which has voice-enabled control by saying, "Hey Roku," and a 3.5mm headphone jack for private listening. While I usually avoid voice navigation on remotes because it can be unreliable, I found the Roku Pro remote performed very well, nailing my request each time.
It's also rechargeable via a USB-C port on the bottom. Perhaps my single favorite feature on this remote though is that if you ask "Hey Roku, where's my remote?", the remote lets out a shrill chirp to help you track it down. As someone who has purchased multiple Roku remotes to replace lost ones, this is something I appreciated.
When I fired up the TV for the first time, I was immediately surprised with how fast it ran. From menus to apps loading, everything was lightning-quick and significantly faster than I was used to. I'd chalk that up to my main television being a few years old, but I've tested several televisions in recent months that ran on the Roku system, and none were this fast.
As I usually do when I test a new television, I headed over to Netflix first and queued up an "Ultra HD" title with Dolby Vision. The Black Mirror episode looked exactly like I thought it would -- and that's not a bad thing. I have a general expectation of what the quality should be for such content, and this TV looked pretty much exactly like most expensive sets these days.
It had ample brightness, even in my sun-lit living room, and colors popped like they should. The local dimming, which lessens brightness in certain areas when needed to improve contrast, gave impressive clarity to dark space scenes in the content. Along with a 60Hz refresh rate, there's support for HDR content in HDR10, HDR10+, and Dolby Vision. I can't say that the visual aspect was noticeably better than any other television, but landing right alongside its competition is a good thing here for Roku.
When I pulled up older content to test the upscaling, I was also pleasantly surprised. I've seen better upscaling on more expensive sets, but the Plus Series QLED handled the task just fine. It's still clear you're watching content that's a lower resolution, but that's honestly the way I like it. I've also seen sets that do too much upscaling, leaving content looking unnatural.
I was more than impressed with this TV. On more value-friendly sets, audio is often the first area where quality is cut. I've got firsthand experience with this, as my main television in my home, a Black Friday store brand special, isn't even loud enough to hear without a sound bar. But dialogue was clear here, the stereo was more impressive than I thought it would be, and the bass was more than I expected. There aren't any super-fancy audio tricks and features some premium sets deploy, but I could hear things just fine.
ZDNET's buying advice
Since this is a value-focused television, it's worth noting that you won't find some features that are present on high-end options. There isn't the level of visual customization you'll get on a more expensive set (admittedly, that's something most people don't tinker with too much anyway), and there's no gaming menu that lets you dive deep into video game settings (there is a game mode however.
But if you're the type of gamer to utilize those options, this probably wouldn't be your first TV choice because of the lack of HDMI 2.1. For casual gamers though, this is a solid option. The set is exclusive to Best Buy and prices start at $500 for the 55-inch, with the 65-inch coming in at $600 and the 75-inch at $800.
For a first effort, this feels like a very solid entry from Roku and a great value. A lot of corners could have been cut that weren't, meaning it's squarely on par with its competition in most areas (TVs from other makers that run on the Roku platform) and surpasses them in a few. For the vast majority of consumers who might not notice the missing extras anyway, this is an excellent mid-range television with outstanding value that does the basic things well.