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Roku slims down the set-top box with its new Streaming Stick

The $50 Roku Streaming Stick plugs directly into an HDMI port on your TV, bringing the full Roku experience without all those cables.

By Philip Michaels
March 4, 2014 06:03 PM ET

TechHive - Roku is expanding its lineup of media streaming boxes by shrinking things down. On Tuesday, the company announced a new Roku Streaming Stick, which offers the same streaming features and access to the service's 1,200 channels that other Roku boxes enjoy but in a dramatically smaller device.

At 0.5-by-1.1-by-3.1 inches, the Streaming Stick squeezes Roku's features into a compact package. The idea is to offer up a Roku device that tucks neatly into the back of a TV screen, plugging into one of a  TV's HDMI ports and remaining out of view.

Roku Streaming Stick (2)
The Streaming Stick plugs into an HDMI port on a TV. Roku said the compact design will appeal to people with wall-mounted sets.

The new Streaming Stick is a lot like one Roku already makes as part of its Roku Ready offering. In that program, TV, AVR, Blu-ray and other device makers would build Roku Ready-certified products--Roku says it has 20 partners--and users could add instant streaming by plugging a streaming stick into an MHL port on a device. The difference now is that Roku is making a Streaming Stick that works specifically with HDMI ports on television sets.

"We heard from customers that they liked the form factor" of the stick, said Lloyd Klarke, director of product management for Roku. "What they wanted was a stick they could attach to their monitor at home."

And that's the main selling point of the Roku Streaming Stick: It's a device that can provide a full Roku set-top box experience while staying out of sight. Roku sees the Streaming Stick appealing to people with wall-mounted TVs who don't want the extra cable clutter from a connected set-top box.

The Roku Streaming Stick costs $50--the same as a Roku 1 set-top box following a price cut to that product announced Tuesday. Like the Roku 1, the HDMI Streaming Stick lets you access more than 1,200 channels of movies, television shows, music, and other programming in up to 1080p HD video. Roku will continue to sell its Roku 2 and Roku 3 boxes for $80 and $100, respectively. (The former features a remote with its own headphone jack so you can stream shows in peace; the latter comes with a motion-control remote for playing games.)

One glance at Roku's Streaming Stick will immediately invite comparisons to Google's Chromecast, the $35 dongle that plugs into an HDMI port and streams Internet content onto a TV. That's a comparison Roku is anticipating, and it's happy to point out the amount of streaming content available to Streaming Stick users.

"What we really want to make sure that people understand is that this a full solution,"  Klarke said.

Originally published on Click here to read the original story.
Reprinted with permission from Story copyright 2013 IDG Consumer & SMB, all rights reserved.
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