CNET First Look
Roku's new Streaming Stick takes on Chromecast: $49, HDMI-compatible, 1,200 appsRoku has revamped its Streaming Stick, making it compatible with any TV that has an HDMI input and including a traditional remote that works via Wi-Fi Direct.
-Hey, I'm Matthew Moskovciak from CNET. And today, we're taking an early look at the just announced Roko streaming stick. This is a new version of Roko's old streaming stick, but with two major differences. It now works with any HDMI-compatible TV and it's half the price at $49. The streaming stick hardware is pretty basic. The company's essentially managed to squeeze an entire Roko box into a small adapter that is not much bigger than the HDMI port itself. It connects right into any spare HDMI port on your TV and then it also needs power either by connecting it to a USB port if your TV has one or using the included AC adaptor. If that design seems familiar, that's because it's offly similar to Google's 35-dollar Chromecast and it's not hard to see the updated streaming stick as a response to Google's popular streamer, but the Roku streaming stick does a few things differently. Unlike the Chromecast, the streaming stick includes an old fashion remote. 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. You will notice that the remote doesn't have that neat headphone jack for private listening, so you still need to step up to a Roku 2 or Roku 3 for that feature. Another difference from the Chromecast is you get a standard on-screen interface, which lets you browse thousands of channels or use Roku's excellent cross-platform search, which lets you find a specific movie or TV show on whatever service that's available on. The streaming stick will also have some Chromecast like push capabilities as both YouTube and Netflix will let you cast from a mobile device exactly like you would with a Chromecast. In terms of the specs, the streaming stick will have full 1080p out, dual-band Wi-Fi support and Roku says the internal chip is similar to the one in a Roku 1. So, it likely won't be quite as lightning fast as the Roku 3. The Roku streaming stick is scheduled to come out in April for $49. I'll have a full review with comparisons to the Chromecast as soon as I get my hands on the review sample, but at first glance, this seems like a very promising streamer. I'm Matthew Moskovciak and this is an early look at the Roku streaming stick.