Roku sticks it to the Chromecast with a more flexible Streaming Stick

Roku fans, get ready to be excited. The company today unveiled the latest addition to its popular family of streaming devices, the updated Roku Streaming Stick (HDMI version). And with a price of only $50, this powerful little dongle looks poised to take on the ultimate titan of the streaming-dongle universe, Google’s $35 Chromecast.

Packing nearly all of the functionality of Roku’s full-sized set top boxes into a 3-inch stick, this update to Roku’s previous Streaming Stick is half the price, and trades its predecessor’s reliability on a Mobile Home Link (MHL) connection for compatibility with any HDMI input. 

The Stick provides an incredibly compact and convenient way to get at Roku’s intuitive interface, where users can access all of the system’s 1,200 or so apps. Yeah, 1,200. In line with the rest of the Roku family, the Streaming Stick comes with a traditional remote control, or users can cast content from apps like Netflix and Youtube via iOS and Android mobile devices, just like Chromecast. Like most dongles, the device is powered via a TV’s USB output to minimize cord clutter, or by plugging into a traditional wall outlet.

The new device may cost a little more than Google’s beloved little dongle, but Roku’s expansive ecosystem is packed with around 100 times more applications, or channels, than Chromecast, offering a more traditional set-top box experience in miniature form. In its official press release, Roku also foreshadowed the eventual ability to cast to the device from a computer.

We don’t want to over-hype this little unit too much – especially considering the rumored next-gen Apple TV slated for release sometime this spring – but when it comes to affordable streaming dongles, you may now consider the game changed.

Roku’s new Streaming Stick will be available for purchase in April, and the company is taking preorders via Amazon, Best Buy, and all the usual online channels.

 [Due to some confusion we have edited the title of this article to reflect that the new Roku Streaming Stick is not cheaper than the Chromecast, but cheaper than the previous version. Update 3/5/14]

Product Review

From tables to porches, Ring's Stick Up Cam watches wherever you want

Ring’s latest home security camera offers more versatility than ever before, with the ability to mount it, set it on a table, or put it inside or outside. We got a chance to test it out. Here’s how it went.
Digital Trends Live

Digital Trends Live: Amazon HQ, Guy Kawasaki, and when to buy a streaming stick

On Thursday's episode of Digital Trends Live, we discussed trending headlines like the latest news surrounding Amazon's new HQ plans to the Mars rover Opportunity. We also sat down with author and entrepreneur Guy Kawasaki to talk about his…
Home Theater

Netflix vs. Hulu vs. Amazon Prime: Battle of the on-demand streaming giants

Trying to figure out which subscription streaming service to use while sticking to a frugal entertainment budget? Check out our updated comparison of the big three: Netflix, Amazon Instant Video, and Hulu.

Apple’s most affordable 2018 iPad is now even cheaper on Amazon at $249

The entry-level iPad is the iPad to get for the vast majority of people. It's inexpensive, well-designed, and quite powerful, especially for the price. Speaking of price, the 9.7-inch iPad is now even more affordable from Amazon.
Home Theater

Bose’s technology patents could save an earbud’s battery life

Possibly taking a cue from Apple's popular AirPods, Bose filed a patent application for earbud IR technology that could save battery life, improve sound quality, and possibly help people locate lost earbuds.
Home Theater

ATSC 3.0: The next-gen TV update explained

ATSC 3.0 is the next major update to the broadcast standard we use today. Will this be the second coming of free, over-the-air TV? We're here to explain everything about the new standard.
Home Theater

Samsung accidentally leaks its new Galaxy Buds ahead of launch

It's been all but certain that Samsung would launch a successor to its Gear IconX wireless earbuds soon, but a newly leaked photo and recent FCC certification document seems to indicate that the debut is very close.
Home Theater

Hi-res streaming audio service Qobuz arrives in U.S., threatens Tidal’s monopoly

For several years, Tidal enjoyed a monopoly on hi-res music streaming in the U.S. Now, French company Qobuz is here to offer some competition with a variety of monthly plans starting at $10 a month.
Home Theater

Throw away those EarPods -- we dug up the best headphones in every style

Trolling the internet for hours to find headphones is no way to live. Instead, leverage our expertise and experience to find the best headphones for you. Here are our 10 favorites.
Home Theater

Still listening on tinny, muffled TV speakers? Try one of our favorite soundbars

You no longer have to sacrifice sound for size when selecting home audio equipment. Check out our picks for the best soundbars, whether you're looking for budget options, pure power, smarts, or tons of features.
Home Theater

Samsung will stop releasing new Blu-ray players in the U.S.

Samsung, the first company to produce a 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray player, is now exiting the Blu-ray market entirely in the U.S. The move comes after Oppo Digital also dropped out of the market last year.
Movies & TV

The Breaking Bad sequel might air on Netflix before it arrives on AMC

A Breaking Bad sequel starring Jesse Pinkman (and, possibly, Walter White) is on the way from series creator Vince Gilligan, and you might get your first look at it on Netflix, not traditional cable.

The best Presidents’ Day sales 2019: Amazon, Walmart, Dell, and more

Presidents' Day sales are a great chance to score electronics, clothing, home and office stuff, and other goodies at a discount. We’ve smoked out a large handful of the best of these Presidents' Day deals, from tech to bedding, to help…

Take a gander at the best deals on 4K TVs for February 2019

There's no doubt that a good 4K smart TV is the best way to take your home entertainment setup to the next level to enjoy all your favorite shows, movies, and games in glorious Ultra HD. We've got the best 4K TV deals right here.