Roku, a Saratoga, Calif.-based maker of video-streaming set-top boxes unveiled on Tuesday its “Streaming Stick,” a new thumb-sized device that is seen as a potential challenger to Google’s (NASDAQ:GOOG) Chromecast and Apple (NASDAQ:AAPL) TV.
Priced at $49.99 in the U.S., the Streaming Stick features a compact design and plugs into an HDMI port for all wall-mounted TVs, and users can use Roku's remote control (included with the Stick) to access the user interface and browse movies, TV shows, news, Roku Channel Store, Roku Search and other services. Users can also use their smartphone or tablet to browse and select channels to stream. The Roku app is available for both Android and iOS devices.
According to the company, users can also use the Streaming Stick to stream Netflix, YouTube and personal media from their devices on their TVs. Over time, Roku will add additional mobile features, such as the ability to cast content from a computer to the TV.
Because the Streaming Stick connects over HDMI, a USB power source is also required. The device comes with a USB cable and wall adapter, although users can connect the stick to their HDTV's USB port, if it has one. Once plugged in, the Streaming Stick allows consumers to stream from more than 1,200 channels (more than 750 channels in Canada, the U.K. and the Republic of Ireland) and free programming in up to 1080p HD video.
In Canada, the Roku Streaming Stick has a suggested retail price of $59.99 and it could cost 49.99 pounds in the U.K. and the Republic of Ireland. The device is currently available for pre-order from retailers including Amazon (NASDAQ:AMZN), Best Buy (NYSE:BBY), Staples, Target (NYSE:TGT), Wal-Mart (NYSE:WMT) and FutureShop.
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The Streaming Stick will ship to consumers and arrive in retail stores in April, according to the company.
The Roku Streaming Stick is more expensive than the Chromecast ($35), but it comes with access to more content. However, when compared to Apple TV, the Roku device lacks access to the iTunes Store, meaning users with large iTunes libraries might prefer to stick to Apple’s offering.
Here are some more specs of the Streaming Stick:
Networking: 802.11 dual-band (a/b/g/n compatible) with WEP, WPA, and WPA2 support
Video Outputs: 720p, 1080p
Audio Output: Digital over HDMI (7.1 and 5.1 surround pass through)
Power Consumption: Less than 2W (typical) when streaming HD video
Power Input: 5V – 1A power adapter
Size and Weight: 3.1 x 1.1 x .5 inches; 0.64 ounces