Coming Soon: The Roku Streaming Stick

A few months ago, I wrote a post about some of the media streaming devices on the market and now there’s a new kid on the block worth mentioning. The Roku Streaming Stick is a neat little gadget that packs quite the punch in a tiny form factor.

We saw this form factor for the first time with Google’s Chromecast streaming device last year. While the Chromecast is a great little device, there were a few things I felt that it could improve upon and Roku has used this information to their advantage. The Chromecast device leveraged your smartphone or tablet as a remote control, which I found could be a little cumbersome. Personally, I prefer a dedicated remote control and Roku has a great one! The remote is the same one we saw on the Roku 2 and 3. It’s ergonomic and is a great size. The only thing missing from the Streaming Stick’s remote is the handy headphone jack the remote on the Roku 2 and 3 had.

In addition to the dedicated remote control, the Roku Streaming Stick has an impressive number of apps compared to the Chromecast. To be exact, Roku has packed 1,200 apps into this tiny device, including Netflix, YouTube, TED Talks, and many others. It also allows you to access media stored on your computer using the Plex app. This content is all available using Roku’s great interface, which is definitely my favourite interface when it comes to media streaming devices.

When it comes to the design, the Roku Streaming Stick is about 3 inches long and features a purple encasing. Since it plugs into the back of your television, you won’t have to see the Streaming Stick so don’t worry about the colour too much. Though the stick plugs directly into your HDMI port it does require power, which comes in the form of a power cable that plugs into the end of the stick and then into a USB port in the back of your television. The device also has a tiny reset button, which you can use to troubleshoot if it freezes up. The compact size of this media streaming device means that it’s easy to take with you on the road, allowing you to access your favourite media apps from anywhere you can get a WiFi connection.

The Streaming Stick provides 1080p output and support dual-band WiFi. The WiFi support is handy since the device will be behind your television and there won’t be a direct line of sight between it and the remote control. Basically, the remote control uses the WiFi signal to communicate with the device.

In terms of price, the Roku Streaming Stick is a slam-dunk, in my opinion. While Google’s Chromecast is less expensive at $40, it features less apps and lacks a dedicated remote control. Personally, I’d gladly spend the extra $20 for the added bells and whistles in the Roku Streaming Stick.


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By Mike Agerbo

April 01, 2014