With smallest streaming stick yet, Roku out to prove you can take it with you

By Jim O'Neill on Apr 05 2016 at 7:30 AM
With smallest streaming stick yet, Roku out to prove you can take it with you

Big things can come in small packages, something streaming media company Roku showed this morning with the release of its latest streaming stick, a device the size of a USB thumb drive that packs a lot of wallop.

The $50 Roku Streaming Stick claims to have more processing power than Google’s Cast (nee Chromecast) and the Amazon Fire TV Stick, packing a quad-core processor that has 8X the processing power of Roku’s own 2014 Streaming Stick, too. That means it’s going to get you to your shows faster, be more responsive in terms of navigation and launching channels quickly.

Outside of the processor and smaller form, this model, the 3rd generation of Roku Streaming Sticks, isn’t that different from the previous model. It’s the same price, still plugs into the side of a TV, still has a dual-band MIMO antenna, and still supports 1080p HD video (but not 4K).

The device is pricier than either Cast or Fire TV Stick, but Roku believes its slimmer size could help drive sales. No question it fits into a travel bag and, with Hotel & Dorm Connect, you really can take your Roku experience with you, which really is a delight compared to most hotel pay-TV experiences.

As Roku’s SVP of Product Management Sharad Sundaresan said, consumers appreciate having access to the complete Roku streaming experience in a portable, low-cost device.”

Although the new remote that comes with the Streaming Stick doesn’t have a headphone jack for private listening like those that come with the Roku box do, Roku’s mobile app for iOS and Android phones allows private listening on smartphones and tablets.

Roku is also rolling out an upgrade for its OS, 7.1.

The new version of the company’s operating system, enhances search and discovery by adding new categories within Roku Feed that enable customers to view popular TV shows and movies in one place.

Similar to the existing Movies Coming Soon feature, consumers can view these new categories to discover popular movies and TV shows across a variety of streaming channels on the Roku platform. They can then choose to watch a popular movie or TV show immediately, or follow it in the Roku Feed to receive automatic updates when the availability or price changes, or the movie or TV show becomes available to watch for free. 

The device is available to order today and will begin shipping later this month when it also wil show up in retailers like Best Buy and Walmart.

The OS update is available now and will begin updating current generation players through the month.

Roku said its latest iOS and Android mobile apps also are available today.

A recent report contends Google’s Cast has become the biggest seller among streaming devices, grabbing about 35% of the market in 2015. Demand for dedicated streaming media boxes and dongles was up 32% to a record level in 2015, dominated by Chromecast, Apple TV, Amazon Fire and Roku, which make up 8 of 10 units shipped, according to the Global Connected TV Device Vendor Market Share: Q4 2015 Report from Strategy Analytics.

Stay tuned.

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