Traditionally priced at $50, the 2016 Roku Streaming Stick is an incredible bargain for anyone in the market for a hassle-free streaming device. Currently selling for $40 at Amazon, Best Buy, Staples, and the Roku Store, the Roku Streaming Stick is a must-buy, whether it’s your first or second streaming device.
The Roku Streaming Stick is a plug-and-play stick that brings the Roku platform to any HDMI-equipped HDTV. The 2016 model is much thinner than its predecessor and even a touch longer. Its new matte black design also makes it look a little less cartoonish than the previous model which was clad in Roku purple.
The included remote has also undergone a few cosmetic changes sporting a thinner profile and matte black exterior. The “OK” button has been placed back in the center of the directional pad — previously it was below it — which makes it feel more natural to use and on par with the layouts found in many other remote controls.
Set up is simple: Connect the Roku Stick to your HDTV’s HDMI port; connect the power cable to the open end of the Roku Stick; and connect the cable to a wall outlet. The power cable is about 6-feet long, which should be ok for most setups, but we would’ve liked a little more cable length from Roku to play with. Likewise, we also wish Roku included an HDMI extension dongle, which is something Amazon and Chromecast — two of the Roku Stick’s biggest competitors — get right. The Streaming Stick barely fit in a Vizio M-Series HDTV due to the TV’s HDMI port placement.
In terms of performance, the Roku Stick now packs a quad-core CPU, just like the Roku 4, and the performance differences are noticeable. The new stick also packs an 802.11a/b/g/n dual-band antenna.
Another feature we like is the ability to listen to audio from your Roku device via your smartphone or tablet using the free Roku app. This is a killer feature for anyone who wants to watch TV without disturbing their partner. While the larger Roku boxes had the ability to stream audio to the remote control and onto a pair of headphones, this is the first time the Roku Stick receives such capabilities.
Overall, this snappy, click-and-go device delivers an outstanding experience. There isn’t any 4K support, but otherwise the Roku Streaming Stick got our Editors’ Choice award and makes an even stronger case for itself priced at $40. Just keep in mind that the sale ends Saturday, November 5.
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