Review: UPDATED: Roku Streaming Stick


Update: Roku Streaming Stick is getting a hardware refresh in 2016. The new, smaller device has a quad-core processor and an 802.11n Wi-Fi antenna capable of streaming data at 600Mbps. The smaller version of the Stick is available now and we plan on updating this review after we’ve spent some time with it.

Original review below…

The Roku Streaming Stick seems to get better every day. By combining over 1,000 apps – including Sling TV, Plex and now NBC Sports Live Extra in the US – with an HDMI dongle design that’s the size of a thumb drive and an irresistible price of $49/£49, the Roku Streaming Stick may just win the streaming cold war with its cord tied behind its back. Recent advancements in home entertainment technology have granted the power of HDMI compatibility, making it the more app-inclusive alternative to the Google Chromecast or Amazon Fire TV Stick.

That’s important because Roku has been down this road before with a similar streaming stick that only worked with MLH-compatible TVs. It’s an idea that pre-dated Chromecast as an affordable way to instantly project apps onto a big-screen television by nine months. But Roku’s MHL requirement meant consumers had to buy or already own a “Roku Ready” TV with this special HDMI slot.

Now, the company is taking cues from Google with the Roku Streaming Stick 2014 that delivers apps to any TV when it’s plugged into an HDMI port. It comes with a handy remote and sports a familiar interface that has made past Roku devices so easy to use.

It costs a little more than Chromecast and doesn’t have all of the special features like mirroring an entire computer to the TV, but that’s the price of having more than 50 times as many compatible apps and a physical remote control. (2,000 at last count.)