CNET también está disponible en español.

Ir a español

Don't show this again

Roku's new $49 Streaming Stick

Google Chromecast, you're not the only stick in town.

Roku announced the Roku Streaming Stick today, which manages to pack nearly all the functionality of a full-size Roku box into a device not much bigger than an USB flash drive. It's actually a new version of Roku's old MHL-based Streaming Stick, but there are two major differences: it now works with any TV that has an HDMI input, and it's half the price, at just $49.

Updated:Caption:Photo:Lori Grunin/CNET
1
of 26

HDMI-compatible

The Streaming Stick sports Roku's signature purple color and it's designed to connect directly into a spare HDMI port on your TV.

Updated:Caption:Photo:Lori Grunin/CNET
2
of 26

Small, simple

It's just a little over three inches long and there's not much else to the device, save for the HDMI connector, a micro-USB port, an indicator light, and a tiny button to reset the stick.

Updated:Caption:Photo:Lori Grunin/CNET
3
of 26

Micro-USB for power

The Micro-USB port lets you power the device, by connecting it to a USB port on the TV (if it has one) or using the included power adapter.

Updated:Caption:Photo:Lori Grunin/CNET
4
of 26

Fits behind your TV

The tucked-away location of the Streaming Stick means it likely won't work with a universal remote.

Updated:Caption:Photo:Matthew Moskovciak/CNET
5
of 26

AC adapter included

Roku includes a power adapter and a Micro-USB-to-USB cable.

Updated:Caption:Photo:Lori Grunin/CNET
6
of 26

Roku Streaming Stick vs. Chromecast

If this all sounds familiar, that's because the design is awfully similar to Google's $35 Chromecast. It's hard not to see the updated Streaming Stick as a response to Google's popular streamer.

Updated:Caption:Photo:Lori Grunin/CNET
7
of 26

Roku Streaming Stick vs. Chromecast

The Streaming Stick is slightly longer but doesn't have the bulbous end of the Chromecast.

Updated:Caption:Photo:Lori Grunin/CNET
8
of 26

Remote included

So what do you get for the extra $15 over the Chromecast? For one, you get a traditional remote and an onscreen interface. It's a pretty standard Roku remote, and it works via Wi-Fi Direct, so it can still control the Streaming Stick when it's hidden behind your TV.

Updated:Caption:Photo:Lori Grunin/CNET
9
of 26

No headphone jack

Note that the remote doesn't have the neat headphone jack for private listening, so you'll still need to step up to a Roku 2 or Roku 3 for that feature.

Updated:Caption:Photo:Lori Grunin/CNET
10
of 26

More apps

The other major perk over the Chromecast is you get access to all 1,200 of Roku's apps, or "channels" in Roku's parlance.

Updated:Caption:Photo:Lori Grunin/CNET
11
of 26

More channels

The Streaming Stick supports nearly every major service -- such as Netflix, YouTube, HBO Go, Amazon Instant, MLB.TV, Showtime Anytime, and PBS -- as well as a huge number of niche content sources. While the Chromecast has added some crucial apps since its launch (including HBO Go, Hulu Plus, and Pandora), it still can't compare to Roku's sprawling and frequently updated library.

Updated:Caption:Photo:Lori Grunin/CNET
12
of 26

New app coming in April

Roku also showed off an upcoming version of its overhauled mobile app, which is due in April.

Updated:Caption:Photo:Matthew Moskovciak/CNET
13
of 26

Integrated cross-platform search

Besides the new look, the app also integrates Roku's excellent cross-platform search, which scours several major content sources (including Netflix, Amazon Instant, HBO Go, and Hulu Plus) to find where a TV show or movie is available and how much it costs.

Updated:Caption:Photo:Matthew Moskovciak/CNET
14
of 26

Plays right on Roku

Select one of the services and it plays right on your Roku. It's a great feature to add to the mobile app, where it can be easier to type in search terms, although Roku's predict-as-you-type searching using the onscreen keyboard is pretty quick, too.

Updated:Caption:Photo:Matthew Moskovciak/CNET
15
of 26

The box

Roku also had the retail packaging for the Streaming Stick on display.

Updated:Caption:Photo:Lori Grunin/CNET
16
of 26

Back of the box

Updated:Caption:Photo:Lori Grunin/CNET
17
of 26

Unboxing

While it may not match Apple's celebrated packaging, it's clearly a step above your typical retail box.

Updated:Caption:Photo:Lori Grunin/CNET
18
of 26

Happy streaming

Updated:Caption:Photo:Lori Grunin/CNET
19
of 26

Remote underneath

Pull out the Streaming Stick and the remote is underneath.

Updated:Caption:Photo:Lori Grunin/CNET
20
of 26

AC adapter, Micro-USB cable, and manual

At the very bottom, you'll find the power adapter, a Micro-USB cable and the manual.

Updated:Caption:Photo:Lori Grunin/CNET
21
of 26

Specs

The Streaming Stick measures 0.5-inch high, 3.1 inches long, 1.1 inches wide, and it weighs 0.64-ounce.

Updated:Caption:Photo:Lori Grunin/CNET
22
of 26

Hardware

In terms of the hardware, the Streaming Stick has 1080p output and dual-band Wi-Fi support. Roku says the internal chip is similar to the one in the Roku 1, so it likely won't be quite as lightning-fast as the Roku 3.

Updated:Caption:Photo:Lori Grunin/CNET
23
of 26

Power consumption

Roku rates the Streaming Stick's power consumption at less than two watts when streaming HD video.

Updated:Caption:Photo:Lori Grunin/CNET
24
of 26

USB cable length

I didn't have a tape measure on hand, but the Micro-USB cable easily reached across the length of the TV in the demo.

Updated:Caption:Photo:Matthew Moskovciak/CNET
25
of 26

Coming in April

The new Roku Streaming Stick is scheduled to come out in April for $49. I'll have a full review as soon as I get my hands on a review sample, but from my initial impressions the new Streaming Stick has a decent shot at dethroning our current Editors' Choice, the Roku 3.

Updated:Caption:Photo:Lori Grunin/CNET
26
of 26
Up Next

Apple's little box is an expensive buddy for your big 4K HDR TV