The Roku Streaming Stick is a streaming device that plugs directly into the HDMI port of your television. It is the smallest streaming stick on the market and it gives you access to most of the top streaming sites, which includes Netflix, Hulu, BBC iPlayer, and Now TV. It is a well-designed device that was created in response to the Google Chromecast, and it has developed as one of the best streaming devices available on the market. Let’s take a look at the Roku Streaming Stick in more detail to discover what makes this product so great.
The Roku Streaming stick was designed to have a sleeker, compact look than its predecessor. The prior version was a tacky purple color, but this one features a beautiful black exterior that is pleasing to the eye.
The aesthetic is not extremely imperative though because the stick will spend the majority of its time in the HDMI slot behind your television set.
The size of the device has also been streamlined. It is only 3.3 inches long, 0.8 inches wide, and 0.5 inches deep, so it can easily fit into your pocket when you want to take the device with you to a friend’s house. If this length is too long to fit behind your television, the manufacturer does offer a free of charge extender cable that is more flexible, which allows it to fit into tighter spaces.
In addition, the design of the Roku Streaming Stick does not feature any buttons or tacky controls. It is a simple device that only has a USB port to charge the unit and a reset button; all of the other control features are located on the remote control that comes with the device.
Specs and Performance
The Roku Streaming Stick is a great option when you are looking for a resolution of 1080p. If you are looking for a 4k resolution, then this device is not quite capable of that resolution yet, but neither are a lot of the services that you can stream at the moment. This may change in a few years time, but for now the resolution that is available on this stick is sufficient.
Even though the resolution of this device is not the top of the line, many of the other aspects of its performance are. It is one of the fastest streaming devices available on the market. It does not have the voice search capabilities found on similar devices, but it can find the movie that you want to stream milliseconds faster than its competitors. In addition, there is an app that you can download on your phone to use the voice search feature as well.
The reason that this stick is so much faster than any other stick on the market is that a quad core processor is located inside of this tiny 0.6 ounce device. In addition, it also has an 802.11 a/b/g/n dual band antennae.
|Type||Audio / video player|
|Maximum Supported Resolution||1080p|
|Playable Formats||AAC, JPEG, MKV, MP3, MP4, PNG|
One of the more notable features of this streaming device that you will love is the fact that you can stream your audio to any Roku application that you have installed on your other devices. This functionality is compatible with both Android and iPhone devices, so you will never have an issue connecting as long as both the Roku Streaming Stick and your device are connected to the same network.
Using this method of connection may seem odd, but it is a great way to get optimal sound without experiencing lag or slowdown as you are listening to your favorite audio file. The remote of this device can also be used this way, but since the remote utilizes AAA batteries, your cell phone will most likely be the best option. The batteries in the remote will deplete at a much quicker rate, and they will not be as easy to recharge or replace as it will be to recharge your phone or tablet.
This stick charges best in a wall outlet, but when you have to utilize the USB on the back of your television set, this device boots up nearly three times faster than the previous model, which means that when you want to watch a movie, you will not need to wait through a long period of buffering. In fact, we have found that this device is ready to stream a movie on Netflix about 30 seconds quicker than the first generation Roku. Most applications that you will need to access will load in less than ten seconds.
The Roku Streaming Stick is designed to be a plug and play device that does not take much effort to use. Once the device is plugged into the television, you simply need to setup your internet connection to be able to connect. The higher the internet speed is, the better the stream will be, especially if you want to play your movie in full high definition.
Setting up the device can be done through your cell phone or tablet. Roku will ask for your credit card details and your billing address before allowing you to continue on, but this step makes it more convenient to access pay per use services at a later date. To make sure that your information is secure, you will be given the option to set up a secure pin to prohibit anyone from accessing your information but you.
Next, the device will search for any software updates that may be available, and then it will restart. The entire process only takes about a minute of your time, unless there happens to be a number of updates that need to be applied. Once the Roku Streaming Stick has been connected to the internet, it can simply be plugged into any television that is on the same network. Jumping onto another network requires you to have the device on the local network, so taking it to a friend’s house may require a minute of setup.
Remote and Control Options
As you are most likely aware, the Roku Streaming Stick comes with a remote that you can use to control the device. This remote was designed to be a lightweight unit that has a more streamlined design than any of the other streaming devices that are available on the market. In addition, the amount of buttons that are displayed on the remote has been reduced from the previous version.
Insofar as buttons, the ok button is now conveniently located in the center of the directional pad, which makes it more convenient to press when you are searching for a movie, and it takes up less space on the remote itself. There is also a back button and a home button to make it easy to navigate. There is a play, pause, fast forward, rewind button, and a repeat button to control the data that you are streaming. The options button allows you to customize your streaming experience as well.
The remote does not feature programmable buttons that give you one-click access to specific streaming platforms that you use frequently. However, there are buttons that redirect you to Netflix, Amazon, Sling, and Google Play, which is a huge convenience for those of you who tend to utilize those services frequently.
The remote requires AAA batteries to function, and while the simplicity of the remote is favorable to most, there is not a microphone of a headphone jack incorporated into the design. If you want to make use of these features, you will need to download an app on your phone.
How many times have you lost the remote to your television? Well, the remote to this device is just as easy to lose track of, so there is an application that is compatible with the Roku Streaming Stick that you can use instead of the remote. It also has a number of other functions that you will enjoy as well. Here are a few of the best features of the Roku App:
- Keyboard – When you use the app instead of the remote, you can easily type in the movie that you want to watch in the search field. The app incorporates a keyboard that utilizes touch screen technology, which makes navigating the Roku system a breeze. You can simply type in the title that you are looking for instead of using the arrow keys to choose each individual letter of the title.
- Built-in Microphone – Another great feature that this app provides is the ability to use the built-in microphone on your mobile device. This means that you can use the app to perform a voice search instead of typing in the title of the movie that you want to watch. With this feature, you do not even need to have the device in your hand to find the title that you are looking for; in fact, you may hardly use the remote when you become more comfortable using this feature.
- If you are using headphones to listen through your mobile device, all you need to do is tap the button on the app to send the audio back to the television. The process only takes a few seconds to complete, and it rarely takes more than a second for the audio file to be in perfect sync with the video.
The Roku Streaming Stick runs on Roku OS 7.1, which has been the operating system used by the company’s streaming devices from the beginning. It has only had a few tweaks to improve the streaming process. It is extremely easy to maneuver; in fact, most of it is pretty self explanatory.
The first screen that you will see is the main hub. This is the location where you come to access most of the different features that are offered on the Roku Streaming Stick. Here are a few of the areas that you will need to be familiar with to optimize your streaming experience.
- Home – This is the location where you will find all of the applications that you have installed on the stick. The apps that were installed the most recently will be at the top of the list, and the ones that you installed first will be located at the bottom.
- My Feed – This is a feature that allows you to track television series, movies, or other shows. Once you follow a show on your feed, you will be notified when new episodes are available for you to watch. This feature makes it so that you never miss a new episode and helps you stay current with your favorite shows.
- Movie Store – Choosing this option will take you to the Fandango store front where you can choose a service that has the film that you wish to watch available. If you have subscriptions to streaming services, you may never utilize this feature, but it is convenient for those who do not have a streaming service readily available to use.
- TV Store – This option is basically the same as the movie store except it is designed to help you connect with the services that feature the television shows that you want to watch.
- News – This is a feature that you can use to get suggestions on what to watch. Simply select a channel that you are interested in viewing, and Roku will generate a feed with a few of the more popular options in that category.
- Search – This is where you search for what you want to watch. Roku allows you to search using the built-in microphone, the touch keyboard option, or the remote control that comes with the device. You can search for a specific movie or television show, or you can broaden the range by searching in a genre. You can also look for movies that are directed by specific individuals or ones that have specific actor in them. Once you input your search information, the device will conduct a search utilizing about 30 different streaming app options and list them for you to select from .The list will be ordered from the least expensive to the most costly, and the options that you already have a subscription to will always be listed at the top.
- Streaming Channels – This is the location that you go to when you want to see what streaming channels are currently available on the Roku Streaming Stick. There are currently over 3,000 channels available that you can choose from, and there are also a few hidden stations that you can only access by imputing a code into Roku’s website to activate a localized download onto your specific device.
- Settings – This area is where you go to customize your streaming experience. There are a lot of options available to you here that include screen mirroring, themes, screen savers, and display options. You can also access your network settings here, reset the device’s clock or time zone, do a system update, or a factory reset if the need arises.
When you have a Roku Streaming Stick, you will have access to over 3,000 streaming channels. These options range from the ever-popular Netflix, HBO Go, and Hulu to some of the lesser known channels that you may love.
With well over 3,000 channels to choose from, it is impossible to list them all here, but let’s take a look at some of the options that may interest you.
- If you subscribe to any of the cable movie channels, the first thing that you should download onto your Roku Streaming Stick is HBO Go, Starz, and Showtime. Then, head straight for FX Now, Vudu, Crackle, Netflix, and Hulu because if you have a subscription, they are options that give you up-to-date television shows and fee movies.
- If music is your forte, then channels like Pandora, Spotify, and Vevo may be useful for you. YouTube is also a great place to look or music, especially if you enjoy watching music videos as well.
- If you enjoy playing a game of snake, memory, or solitaire on occasion, then the Roku Streaming Stick also has a decent selection of computer games that you can enjoy. These games are not the most intense action games on the market, but they do provide challenging puzzle games and thought-provoking trivia to keep your mind sharp.
- Insofar as sports, there are several channels that you can enjoy. You can watch NFL games, NHL, games, NBA games, MLB games, MLS games, college games, tennis, and other extreme sports that may be covered on the television. If you enjoy watching a game on Sunday afternoon, then the Roku Streaming Stick will make sure that you never miss your favorite teams.
If you take a look at this product on Amazon, you will see that out of the 2,904 reviews that are currently available to read on the site, 81 percent of them gave this product at least a four or a five star rating. That gives this product an overall star rating of 4.3 out of five, which is exceptional for this streaming device.
Many of the reviewers like the versatility of this device. It can be used when you are in a hotel, at a friend’s home, or in your own living room, and there are a plethora of different channels that you can make use of. There are also a number of free stations that you can choose from. The one aspect that reviewers felt could be better was the remote. It is not as responsive as it could be, and it is much easier to simply use the Roku app.
Here is an example of a review given by a customer who was more than happy with their purchase of this product:
“Exceeded my expectations! Amazon had this delivered this to my door within hours of ordering it. Setup was a breeze; I have never used a Roku device before, so I was pleasantly surprised at how quick and easy this device was to setup. Everything was working in less than 20 minutes; including establishing a new Roku account and linking to my existing subscription streaming services. The hardest part of the entire process was getting the cellophane wrapper off of the remote batteries!”
What We Liked
- There are more than 3,000 apps that you can enjoy with the Roku Streaming Stick, which means that you will be able to find something you enjoy, no matter what genre you are looking for.
- The unit is a rather compact device that is easy to take with you wherever you go. The slim design perfectly fits behind most televisions, which is an issue with some of the larger streaming devices.
- Thanks to the quad core processor, this device loads extremely fast, which means that you can start watching your favorite movies much more quickly. In fact, Netflix can fully load a movie in as little as five seconds.
- The remote provides an easy method of navigating the interface, but if you want a little bit more complexity, then the Roku app gives you more options.
What We Did Not Like
- The price of the Roku Streaming Stick is a bit higher than we would have liked, but with all of the added technology, it is still well worth the purchase price.
- We found the inaccessibility of the voice search functionality by way of the remote to be an inconvenience. In addition, it seems that since this function was moved to the Roku app that the simplified remote would allow for a lower price point, but instead it is slightly higher than its competitors.
Streaming content on your television has never been easier, especially when you have the Roku Streaming Stick in hand. It is a compact device that is easy to take with you wherever you go. It gives you access to more than 3,000 apps that range from common streaming services like Hulu and Netflix to more obscure channels that may pique your specific interests.
Many people are cord-cutting to help cut the cost of traditional cable and the expense of enjoying all of your favorite movies and televisions series. If you have a sports package, you can expect to spend a pretty penny each month to watch your favorite games. The Roku Steaming stick is a great way to reduce those costs. You will have to pay for some services, but many others within the Roku’s library are free to use, which makes this device the perfect option for you.
This device does lack the ability to stream in 4K, but that technology is not abundantly used yet, so 1080p is more than sufficient for most. It even provides you with a remote that you can use to surf the channel options from the comfort of your couch. If you are looking for a streaming device, the Roku Streaming stick is one of the best options available on the market; in fact, there is not a better option available if you want a large library of movies, television shows, games, and sports at your fingertips.
*At the time of publishing, the price was $34.99