At a CES press event last night, Roku was on hand to show off some of their newest products, including two of their cheapest – but most promising – ideas yet. The $49 device promises to, like so many other new products here at CES, make any TV into a smart TV. Can it live up to its claims?
Well, it’s certainly tiny. The regular Roku boxes aren’t exactly big, but the new Roku Streaming Stick takes size to a whole new level; it’s barely bigger than your standard USB flash drive. The neat thing about the stick, however, is that despite its diminutive demeanor, it packs in everything you can expect from Roku’s bigger boxes.
Roku’s Streaming Stick is compatible with all the existing services that current Roku boxes offer. That means that customers who purchase the stick can be plugged in and instantly gain access to the 400+ channels and streaming content providers that the other boxes get. One thing the new Streaming Stick won’t have included is the Roku remote control. Instead, Roku is planning for customers to use their pre-existing TV remote controls with the new gadget; that way you’ll only need one remote to handle both your TV and all of your streaming videos.
In fact, Roku is planning for the stick to get prepackaged with television sets from the factory. Having the Streaming Stick work with the regular remote cuts down on all the digital clutter that threatens to take over our living rooms.
Before you plan on picking one up for yourself, however, you’ll need to have a newer TV that supports the HDMI MHL format. MHL, which stands for Mobile High-Definition Link, is designed to let mobile phones and other devices charge while being connected to an HDTV. That extra power is what will power the Roku Streaming Stick – there’s no extra power adapter.
The company is keeping mum on how much the new product will cost when it ships later this year, but gave the cryptic response that it will fall in line with the rest of their product lineup – which means we can expect the stick (or stick lineup) to cost between $49 and $99.