By Sahil Patel
When Google launched Chromecast last summer, the device was seen as a competitor to connected-TV boxes from the likes of Apple and Roku. In fact, Roku already had a USB-sized “Streaming Stick.” The device cost $100, though, far more than Chromecast’s $35 price tag.
Roku is now looking to cut that cost. The company has unveiled a new Streaming Stick priced at $50. The stick brings with it the full Roku platform, which offers more than 1,200 channels* from content providers like Netflix, YouTube, Hulu Plus, VEVO, Conde Nast Entertainment, and many cable networks — way more than Chromecast currently offers.
Also unlike Chromecast, the new Streaming Stick is bundled with a remote control, though users still have the option to use an app (available for both iOS and Android devices) to control the Roku platform if they want to. The Stick also supports the “casting” of videos from Netflix and YouTube, as well as home-video clips, from mobile devices to the TV. In the future, Roku says users will also be able to cast from their computers to the TV.
Officially, Roku is calling this new device the Roku Streaming Stick (HDMI Version). This is because the new stick can plug into an HDMI port on any HDTV. This is a pretty big deal as the earlier incarnation of the Streaming Stick only supported MHL-based devices, which are not as common as those with an HDMI input.
Tie all those additional features together, from the extra content to the remote control (which Roku says some users still prefer), and maybe the extra $15 you’d have to plop down for a Streaming Stick is worth it.
The Stick is available for pre-order on Roku.com and major retail sites.