What is a Roku Smart TV? and How It Works


A Roku smart TV is a combination of both a smart TV and a Roku streaming device (also known as an external media streamer.) Simply put, Roku allows you to watch free and paid video content on your TV via the Internet. TV and movie streaming services like Netflix, Amazon,  Hulu, Sling TV, YouTube, and others download on to Roku devices, similar to how apps load onto a smartphone. While the majority of the content is prerecorded, services like Hulu allow a lot of content to be viewed just one day after its initial airing on television. Furthermore, apps like Sling TV enable content to be watched live as it airs.Roku Smart TV

This combination combines traditional TV functions with an operating system/platform. That allows viewers to access, manage, and view internet and network-based media content straight from their television set with no extra devices.

The Difference Between a Roku TV and a Roku Streaming Stick

A Roku streaming stick is a separate, handheld device that communicates wirelessly with a television set to connect you to entertainment from the internet. A Roku TV includes everything in the television instead.

How Does a Roku Smart TV Work?

Roku plugs into your TV using an HDMI cable connected from your TV to the Roku device. Roku connects to the internet via a wired or wireless connection to your home network. Roku Smart TV works via an internet connection. In the same way, you may stream YouTube or Netflix content on your computer or smart-phone, Roku streams to your television.

Roku devices attach to your television via the HDMI port. Once plugged in, select the Roku as a source much like you would a DVD player or set-top box. From there, you’ll be prompted to enter your Wi-Fi details and create a Roku account.

Roku works by downloading video from the Internet, you then watch on your TV. The video isn’t saved as it’s watched while Roku downloads or “streams” the video. Apps or “channels” are programs you load onto your Roku device that provide you with various movies and TV shows. This works much like installing apps on a smartphone or tablet.

While the majority of channels on Roku stream on-demand, there are now quite a few live streaming services available.

In most cases, the shows are recorded, stored by the channel provider, and streamed to your Roku. This differs from the live TV experience you receive with cable TV. However, with a Roku and the right channels, you can watch a majority of your favorite shows.


Roku Smart TV gives you the power to decide what shows you want to watch and when you want to watch them. It’s like watching TV as if everything is on-demand. Since Roku greatly expands your on-demand options, you may even want one to supplement your cable subscription instead of replacing it. I’ll go into more detail on that later in the guide.

What Does a Roku TV Do?

Roku TVs provide access to familiar services such as Netflix, Vudu, Amazon, Hulu, and YouTube as well as over 5,000 more official and non-official services (referred to as channels) depending on location. They also provide access to additional devices that can be plugged into it as well as over-the-air TV broadcasts when an antenna is connected.

What You Can Connect to a Roku TV

Just as with any TV (smart or not), you can connect other devices to a Roku TV.

  • An Antenna connection is provided for reception of over-the-air TV broadcasts.
  • HDMI inputs are provided for plugging in DVD/Blu-ray/Ultra HD Blu-ray players, cable/satellite boxes, game consoles, and more.
  • At the manufacturer’s discretion, shared composite/component video connections may be provided which allow you to plug in older devices, such as VCRs or DVD players that don’t have HDMI outputs.
  • HDMI-ARC and HDMI-CEC are also included. HDMI-ARC simplifies connection of the TV with many home theater receivers and some soundbars, while HDMI-CEC provides limited control of externally connected devices, such as Blu-ray/Ultra HD Blu-ray and cable/satellite boxes using the Roku TV remote.

How Much Does Roku Cost?

After the initial cost of a device, Roku is free to watch so long as you only watch the bundled channels. Paid services like Netflix or Amazon Video will require separate subscriptions to watch. Every user requires a free Roku account. You will, however, be required to provide a credit card or PayPal account to create one.

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