Summer may be over, but that doesn’t mean you have to move the party inside. Outdoor TVs are a great way to enjoy everything from fall football to intimate movie nights — all in your own backyard or garden or on your deck. Though these TVs are brighter, more durable and obviously weatherproof, they tend to be more expensive than your usual living room variety television. But Roku is trying to change the game by introducing a more affordable, 55-inch 4K outdoor TV.
Partnering with Element Electronics, this smart TV proves that you won’t have to break the bank to install a television in your home’s outdoor area. At the time of this writing, Samsung’s 55-inch The Terrace Partial Sun Outdoor TV sells for $3,499, while the same size Partial Sun Element Roku Outdoor TV costs $1,298.
While the Element Roku Outdoor TV doesn’t have all the high-end specs of The Terrace, it stands up to the competition in many ways, including anti-glare glass and the ability to withstand temperatures ranging from minus 4 degrees Fahrenheit to 104 degrees Fahrenheit. And while there’s a good chance you won’t be watching in those extreme temps, it’s comforting to know that you can.
What we liked about it
Surprisingly bright display
The Element Roku Outdoor TV is only available in 55 inches and is classified as Partial Sun, so it’s intended to be placed near trees or under a porch or patio cover — not in direct sunlight. But for an entry-level outdoor TV with 700 nits of maximum brightness, the Element Roku Outdoor TV delivers an extra-bright screen that’s highly viewable in daylight. I set up the TV in my front yard and was able to get through the entire on-screen setup process in full sun.
The 4K resolution, anti-glare display and HDR10 technology also helped make it a satisfying viewing experience, with bright colors and minimum environmental glares from trees and cars. However, when I stood in front or off to the side, I could still see my reflection on the screen.
I watched the TV on a clear midafternoon day in full sun, and again in the early evening when the set was in full shade. I had no problem with the quality in bright light, but the colors were even more vibrant when I watched in the shade. And it was a pleasure to sit out in the mild weather with friends and family, watching a movie, a favorite TV show or the big game.
The Element Roku Outdoor TV is built to withstand, well, the elements. With an IP55 rating, Roku says it can handle rain, snow, sprinklers, high humidity, dust and splashes from the pool. This means that it can last outside year-round with temperatures ranging from minus 4 to 104 degrees Fahrenheit, which is about right for most people in the US. And if you’re out of that range, an outdoor TV may not exactly be on your wish list.
If wind is a worry, Roku claims its tempered safety glass is four times stronger than standard glass.
Simple TV setup
Roku OS 11 is built in to the Element Roku Outdoor TV, and setup was easy enough. After I threw batteries into the remote (which has a protective rubberized sleeve to keep it from getting wet), I just followed the prompts on the TV, signed into my Roku account, then selected and downloaded all the Roku channels and other apps I subscribe to. Like all Roku TVs with a Wi-Fi connection, there is easy access to Amazon, Netflix, Apple TV+, Disney+ and all the other streaming services you might use on other devices.
The TV has ample ports; there are 4 HDMI ports (one is ARC-enabled for a soundbar as well as an option for using composite video/audio cables), a USB port, a LAN port for wired internet, a headphone jack and an RF connector for coaxial connections — in case you want to add a TV antenna.
There is also a secured cover over the ports that is easily unscrewed by hand (to protect the cables from weather), but since the cover gets closed and the ports are inaccessible once you mount the TV, you may want to test them before you hang it up.
What we didn’t like about it
No mount or stand included
The Element Roku Outdoor TV comes with a basic design and is constructed from plastic, with a glossy black bezel. Yet, because this outdoor TV weighs in at 71 pounds, which is almost twice as heavy as a typical standard flatscreen TV, most users will want to hang it up.
With this in mind, it’s important to note that the Element Roku Outdoor TV does not come with a wall mount (or a stand for that matter), so you’ll have to order your own. And it can’t be just any mount. “The Element Roku outdoor TV follows VESA standards, so any TV wall mount that can support a 300 x 300 configuration and a recommended weight of 100 pounds will work,” an Element spokesperson told us in an email. “Element is currently in development of an outdoor TV stand, with an expected launch in 2023.”
Sound needs a boost
The two built-in speakers perform well in minimal situations, and I was able to clearly understand dialogue while streaming “How I Met Your Mother” when listening on my own. But as more people joined, making more noise and sitting farther away from the screen, it became more difficult to hear the TV audio.
To combat this, I connected a Roku Streambar to the HDMI/ARC port, which helped give me a much bigger sound while watching things like the New York Giants (finally) winning a game. Though I’d suggest adding a soundbar, you could also wirelessly connect the audio to a portable Bluetooth speaker if you’re not ready to commit. But whatever you decide, don’t forget to bring your home audio device back inside when you’re done.
How it compares
Samsung’s The Terrace TV has higher-end specs than the Element Roku Outdoor TV, so it makes sense that it costs more than twice the price for the same 55-inch Partial Sun Outdoor TV.
The Terrace also offers a 120Hz refresh rate (which is ideal for smoother gaming, and double the Roku’s 60Hz) as well as a brighter picture with its 2000 nits compared to Roku’s 700 nits. SunBrite TV, which makes a full line of outdoor TVs, has a Full Sun Ultra High Brightness TV with 3,000 nits that sells for around $4,000.
Watching TV outdoors is a lifestyle previously reserved for those who could afford more expensive, fully weatherproof home entertainment systems. But the Element Roku Outdoor TV is designed to bring this engaging experience to a more mainstream audience.
Sure, $1,299 is still a luxury, and significantly pricier than an everyday Roku 55-inch TV (which goes for about $350 these days), but it’s worth it for anyone who wants to upgrade to an outdoor TV capable of streaming movies, shows, sports or music — even in foul weather or when the sun goes down.
Of course, you’ll still have to purchase a compatible mount and it’s only available in one size, but if a 55-inch Smart TV with a familiar Roku user interface appeals, you’ll be rewarded with a bright, low-glare picture on the Element Roku Outdoor TV. And in the end, that seems like a fair price for a home theater experience you can enjoy year-round.