Roku Streaming Stick Review

Many described the Roku Streaming Stick as one of the most promising products to be shown off during CES 2012. It’s a device containing all the functionality of a Roku box but instead shrunk down to almost the size of a thumb drive. The device ships with a 99 dollar price tag and contains a bit more power offered by its predecessor, the Roku  2 XS.  But before you go out and buy the stick, there is one catch. Lets see how it works.

Roku - Remote and Stick

What’s included:

  • Roku Streaming Stick
  • Roku Enhanced Remote Control
  • 2x AA-Batteries
  • Standard Documentation (Getting started guide and warranty info)

Roku Streaming Stick Dimensions

  • Width  .4 inches
  • Depth 2.7 inches
  • Height 1 inches
  • Weight .05 pounds

 

Roku Streaming Stick

How does it work?

The primary difference between the stick and any other products in Rokus line up is that it connects to your display through its MHL port, a feature not offered with many TVs and easily mistaken for a HDMI port. With that said, the Roku Streaming Stick will not work with your HDMI port. It will fit in it, but wont  power up.  Let me explain, HMDI ports are capable of transferring audio and video from HDMI-compliant devices. MHL ports are able to do the same, but they can also power the device that’s plugged in. It’s why you see no external power source for the Roku Streaming Stick.

Differences between Roku Streaming Stick and Roku 2 XS

Besides the plugging into the MHL port and physical appearance of the two devices, there are some other notable differences. For one, the Roku Streaming Stick has double the internal memory of the Roku 2 XS, coming in at 512MB. The remote included with the stick is no longer Bluetooth but a Wi-Fi direct device. This has two benefits. Increased battery life and better response for when the stick is plugged in behind the TV. On top of that, the remote features a volume rocker which no other Roku remote included. It eliminates the need for multiple remotes, improving the whole experience. Lastly, the Roku Streaming Stick also supports dual–band Wi-Fi, unlike the 2 XS, which only supports single-band.

But aside from those upgrades, you’ll still experience similar functionality like motion control remote for games, 1080p content quality, and access to hundreds of channels

Setting Up the Roku Streaming Stick

Just like any other Roku product, the Roku Stream Stick is simple to setup. Plug it into a display and follow the on screen instructions. You’ll need to connect it to your wireless for a quick update, setup a Roku account if you don’t have one already, and head to the channel store to load up on apps.

Roku Streaming Stick Set

User Interface

Once the initial setup is completed, you’ll be taken to the Roku home page. Your channels will be lined up left to right and they can be easily scrolled to by using the remote. In addition to channels, you’ll have access to the channel store and options.  Just a heads up, some apps and content have a price tag. When you setup your Roku account you also link a credit or debit card to it. Any charges will automatically be billed at the point of purchase.  You’ve been warned!

Overall Impression

Overall, the device is extremely easy to use for everyone. It contains the quality functionality we’ve know to love with all Roku products and changes they why we think about Smart TV’s of the future. It’s really impressive to have so much power in a device almost the size of a thumb drive. Because of that, this product truly lives up to the hype.  However, it most likely won’t be well accept by the cord cutting community due to the fact that MHL ports are a bit of rarity right now. It almost seems like the Roku Streaming Stick is out there to promote the MHL technology.

Along with the release of this device, TV manufactures like Apex, Insignia and Hitachi are releasing displays that are labeled “Roku Ready”. This is more of a marketing gimmick than anything. As long as you have a display with a MHL port the device will work as confirmed by Roku Support.  With that said, if you’re impressed with this device and don’t have a Roku yet or MHL compatible TV, maybe this is a good opportunity to consider the Roku 2 XS. Or, you might want to consider the FAVI Streaming Stick, which is powered by Mini USB and connects directly to a HDMI port. The device is scheduled in land in November and costs less than the Roku Streaming Stick.

Have you had a chance to use the Roku Streaming Stick? Let us know in the comments below.

Roku Streaming Stick Video Review

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