Cable Technology Feature Article
Roku Takes on Google Chromecast with Refreshed Streaming Stick
By Tara Seals, TMCnet Contributor
Forget $100 palm-sized set-tops: This season, cheap HDMI sticks are the new black when it comes to over-the-top (OTT) streaming hardware, judging by Roku’s decision to freshen up its video dongle.
The company has introduced a new, spruced up version of its Streaming Stick (it comes in purple!), which now goes for just $49 and appears to be set to take on Google’s (News - Alert) $35 online video phenom, the Chromecast streaming gadget.
Image via Roku.
The Streaming Stick was originally launched in 2012 and until now has sold for $99—analogous to, say, Apple (News - Alert) TV. It depended on an MHL-enhanced HDMI port to work though, which has limited consumer accessibility. The new version connects to a TV’s generic HDMI port instead, like Chromecast, thus widening the market to virtually any HDTV.
It also comes with its own RF- and Wi-Fi-connected remote to search and navigate various menu items.
The stick offers a range of OTT “channels,” including Netflix, Hulu (News - Alert), PBS, Showtime and other TV Everywhere entrants; along with more than 1,000 niche channels of video programming that are largely accessed for free. Unlike Chromecast though, it lacks YouTube (News - Alert) functionality.
But like Chromecast and unlike Roku’s set-top versions, it allows users to “cast” photos and videos directly from the Roku smartphone or tablet app to the stick and therefore the TV. The apps also have a sophisticated search engine UI.
The revamped Roku Streaming Stick will be available in April.
Edited by Stefania Viscusi