Superior Streaming Stick for $50Roku's Streaming Stick offers tons of apps, a real remote, and a compact design for just $50, making it the best streaming stick and an outstanding value.
Roku's streaming boxes have gotten smaller and smaller over the years. And know they've finally whittled it all the way down to the Roku Streaming Stick. This is actually the second Streaming Stick that Roku's made. But the new model is a huge leap forward now that it works with any TV that has an HDMI port. And it's half the price at just $50. Hey, I'm Matthew Moskovciak for CNET and the streaming stick is Roku's answer to Google's $35 Chromecast. And it's the same compact form factor with essentially all the hardware of a full size Roku Box, packed into a device that's not much bigger than a USB Flash Drive. The plastic casing sports Roku's signature purple color which won't be on display since it's designed to live behind your tv in the spare HDMI port. The back of the tv placement would leave the stick almost entirely concealed, except it needs power. Which it can get from a USB port on your tv or by connecting to the included power adapter. With not much else to the device save for a micro USB port, a small indicator light and a tiny button you can use to reset the stick if it freezes up. In terms of internal hardware it has dual band wi-fi support as well as full [UNKNOWN] output. Now while the chrome cast relies on your smart phone or tablet for all it's navigation the streaming stick includes an actual remote. It's essentially the same remote you'd get with Roku's other budget streaming boxes. Although it works with WiFi direct. So it can communicate with the stick, when it's hidden behind your TV. Roku also lets you control the stick, using its mobile. And the streaming stick supports some casting functionality, similar to the Chromecast, for Netflix and YouTube. So with the streaming stick you get to choose which kind of control scheme you prefer. The streaming stick is also packed with apps. There are over 1200 apps on Roku's platform. And while many of these are filler, there's also a lot of great content. Including Netflix, Amazon Instant, HBO Go, Hulu Plus, Pandora, MLB. TV. Amazon Cloud Player, Vudu and Showtime Anytime. Even better, the streaming sync has cross-platform search. So you can search for a movie or TV show and it will show you all the services that offer that content and how much it costs. Now when this version of the streaming stick fist came out, we liked almost everything about it, expect for the fact that some apps, like Netflix and YouTube took over 30 seconds to load. Since then, Roku's made big improvements to the Netflix app's load speed, getting it down to just five seconds. So while there are still some apps that take a while to boot up, it feels like a much smaller issue now that Netflix works quickly. And when you look at the total package, the Roku streaming stick is definitely worth the extra $15 over the Chromecast. With it's huge library of apps, the included remote, and cross-platform search the Roku 3 is still the better overall streamer, since it's faster and includes the cool remote with a built-in headphone jack, but also costs twice as much. So, when it comes to overall value, it's tough to beat the $50 Roku Streaming Stick. I'm Matthew Moskovciak from CNET, and this is the Roku Streaming Stick. [MUSIC]