January 16, 2017

Roku goes after Chromecast with $50 HDMI stick


Roku on Tuesday announced its first HDMI stick, the aptly name Roku Streaming Stick. Priced at $50, the Roku stick enters the space currently occupied by Google’s Chromecast.

The Roku stick plugs in via HDMI and features access to the library of more than 12,000 “channels”. Plugged into a television, it draws power from either an AC outlet or USB port.

Like other Roku devices, this one comes with a remote control for quick and easy access to channels, home, navigation, and more. Also, like Roku’s current products, the stick can also be controlled via free Android and iOS smartphone apps .

One of the coolest features in the Roku Streaming Stick is in how it handles casting of streams from Netflix and YouTube. To achieve this, the device employs DIAL protocols which were actually developed by the two service providers.

Given the ease of use and growing library of channels supported by Roku we should expect the new stick to sell well. It’s priced affordable enough that many consumers may opt for one over the more traditional boxes. What’s more, it’s a name that’s already trusted in households. Perhaps people will be quick to shell out the extra $15 over the Chromecast.

It’s worth pointing out that this is not a direct competitor to the Chromecast. The Roku does not allow for casting of content from a computer yet, however it could be integrated in a future software update. Google’s device, for its part, also has an SDK which lets developers create all sorts of wonderful apps, games, services, and concepts.

The Roku Streaming Stick is available for pre-order today through a variety of retailers, including Amazon (Amazon’s Streaming Media Players). Availability, according to Roku’s press release, is listed as “April”.