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Roku updates popular Streaming Stick with faster processor, dual-band Wi-Fi

Roku has announced that its Streaming Stick (opens in new tab), the company's Chromecast and Fire TV competitor, has received a significant hardware and software upgrade.

Now available for pre-order for $49.99 USD ($59.99 CAD), the Roku Streaming Stick boasts a quad-core processor that the company claims is eight times faster than its predecessor, along with dual-band MIMO Wi-Fi for connecting more quickly, or more further away, to home wireless networks.

The Streaming Stick, like the Chromecast, plugs into the HDMI port of any HD television, offering many of the Roku 4's best features, such as Netflix, YouTube, Spotify and Hulu streaming, along with casting from your phone to the television.

The updated Stick is also the first Roku product to boast Roku OS 7.1, which adds additional categories in the Feed. But perhaps the best addition is the ability to stream the Roku's sound output to the company's Android or iOS app. More expensive Roku boxes boast a headphone port in the included remote, but to cut costs the Streaming Stick's remote lacks that option. So here Roku decided to route the Stick's audio to a connected smartphone app. The company says that other devices will receive the same Roku OS 7.1 update later in April.

Pre-orders begin April 5, and the Roku Streaming Stick will be available later this month for $49.99 USD at Roku.com, Best Buy, Target, Walmart and other retailers.

In Canada, the Roku Stream will run $59.99 CAD from Best Buy, London Drugs, Staples, Walmart, Amazon.ca and others.

See Streaming Stick at Roku (opens in new tab)

Press release:

New Roku Streaming Stick Combines More Power and Portability in Sleek New Form Factor

Only Pocket-Sized Streamer to Feature Quad-Core Processor and Private Listening with Headphones via Mobile Device

LOS GATOS, Calif. – Apr. 5, 2016 – Roku Inc. today announced the new Roku® Streaming Stick® designed for streamers who are looking for the ultimate in power and convenience in a sleek, pocket-sized form. Priced at just $49.99, the latest model of the popular device has been developed with a focus on performance and features a quad-core processor giving it more processing power than any other pocket-sized stick in the industry. The new Roku Streaming Stick has 8X more processing power than its predecessor to get consumers to their favorite entertainment fast with smooth and responsive navigation. It's also the first Roku device to offer private listening through the Roku Mobile App.

"The Roku Streaming Stick is one of our most popular models. Consumers appreciate having access to the complete Roku streaming experience in a portable, low-cost device," said Sharad Sundaresan, SVP product management for Roku. "The new Roku Streaming Stick takes our popular experience to the next level with a significant upgrade in power and performance, as well as features that are specifically designed to get people to the entertainment they want to watch quickly and easily whether they're at home or on the go."

The New Roku Streaming Stick: Powerful and Portable • Only pocket-sized streamer with a quad-core processor; more processing power than Amazon Fire TV stick and Google Chromecast™ • Private listening via a mobile phone or tablet using the Roku Mobile App for iOS and Android™ devices • Dual-band MIMO wireless for great connectivity • Included remote for easy navigation and control • Small, sleek design makes it simple to move between TVs in the home or use while traveling • Cast video from Netflix and YouTube mobile apps directly to the TV • Control with Roku Mobile App for iOS and Android - play personal video, photos and music on TV using the Play On Roku feature • Hotel and Dorm Connect for easy connection to wireless networks away from home

The new Roku Streaming Stick runs Roku OS 7.1, the latest version of the company's operating system, also announced today. Roku OS 7.1 enhances the search and discovery experience by adding new categories within Roku Feed that enable customers to view popular TV Shows and Movies in one place. Similar to the existing Movies Coming Soon feature, consumers can now easily view these new categories to discover popular movies and TV shows across a variety of streaming channels on the Roku platform. They can then choose to watch a popular movie or TV show immediately, or Follow it in the Roku Feed to receive automatic updates when the availability or price changes, or the movie or TV show becomes available to watch for free.

Additionally, a feature available exclusively for the new Roku Streaming Stick enables consumers to use the Roku Mobile App for iOS and Android on their phone or tablet to listen through wired or wireless headphones. The Roku Mobile App offers a companion experience and can act as a remote control, enable voice search or provide an on-screen keyboard. Consumers can use the Play On Roku feature within the app to stream their personal videos, music and photos to the TV using the Roku Streaming Stick.

A Complete Streaming Entertainment Experience

The new Roku Streaming Stick provides consumers with the complete experience of the Roku streaming platform in a small device. Consumers in the US have access to more than 3,000 streaming channels, including 300,000 available movies and TV episodes. Unlike its competitors, Roku offers a comprehensive and unbiased universal search feature that looks across 30 top streaming channels to return search results. In addition, the Roku Feed is a first-of-its-kind discovery feature that lets consumers know when favorite entertainment, such as movies and TV shows, becomes available for streaming – and at what price.

Ultimate Portability

The new Roku Streaming Stick is smaller than the previous version and has a compact, sleek design that makes it the ideal streamer for virtually any HDMI® enabled TV including wall-mounted flat screen TVs. Whether they want to move it between multiple TVs in the home, take it with them to a friend's house, or pack big entertainment into their vacation; the Roku Streaming Stick makes it easy for consumers to stream wherever they go.

The new Roku Streaming Stick also includes the Hotel and Dorm Connect feature to make it easy for consumers to connect to wireless networks that require sign-in through a web browser like those commonly found in hotel rooms, college dorms and other public locations. Consumers simply connect their Roku device to the password-protected network, sign-in with their login credentials using the browser on their mobile phone, tablet or laptop, and they're ready to start streaming.

Availability

The new Roku Streaming Stick is available for pre-order today from www.roku.com for an MSRP of $49.99. It will be available later this month in national retailers such as Best Buy, Target, Walmart and others.

Roku OS 7.1 is available on the new Roku Streaming Stick. It will be rolled out to all other current-generation Roku players through a software update that is expected to be completed this month. The update is expected to be rolled out to Roku TV models shortly after. The latest version of the Roku Mobile App for iOS and Android is available for download today.

In addition to introducing new features for consumers, Roku OS 7.1 includes a number of platform updates and new software development kit (SDK) tools for Roku developers. Information for developers can be found on the Roku Developer Blog.

About Roku OS

At the heart of the Roku streaming platform is the Roku OS, a powerful operating system purpose-built for the TV screen rather than being adapted from an existing mobile OS. Designed to run on affordable streaming players and smart TVs, the Roku OS gives consumers a superior entertainment experience while enabling channel developers to effectively grow and monetize their audiences through advanced development, billing, and advertising tools. Using the Roku SDK, content providers can quickly develop custom streaming channels and deliver content to millions of devices worldwide. Roku Billing offers seamless, one-click subscription to certain Roku channels, streamlining users' access to content, while accelerating developers' user acquisition efforts. Roku's Ad Framework enables advertisers to reach Roku's large audience of TV streamers with sophisticated advertising tools, while helping developers bring more, free, ad-supported content to Roku users. 

About Roku, Inc.

Roku is the creator of a popular streaming platform for delivering entertainment to the TV. Roku streaming players and the Roku Streaming Stick are made by Roku and sold through major retailers in the U.S., Canada, the U.K., the Republic of Ireland, France and Mexico. Roku licenses a reference design and operating system to TV manufacturers to create co-branded Roku TV models. Under the Roku Powered™ program, Roku licenses its streaming platform to Pay TV providers around the world who want to use the Internet to deliver entertainment services through streaming players. Roku was founded by Anthony Wood, inventor of the DVR. Roku is privately held and headquartered in Los Gatos, Calif., U.S.

Roku and Streaming Stick are registered trademarks and Roku TV and Roku Powered are trademarks of Roku, Inc. in the U.S. and in other countries. All other trademarks and registered trademarks are the property of their respective owners in the United States and/or other countries.

Daniel Bader was a former Android Central Editor-in-Chief and Executive Editor for iMore and Windows Central. 

24 Comments
  • How does this differ from the chromecast now? Posted from my Nexus 6/Nexus 7 2013/Surface Pro 3
  • I don't have one, but based on the information, the Roku stick has native Roku channels (apps). That means that it is not dependent on a phone or tablet to watch Netflix. Also, Roku has a native app for Amazon's video service (unlike Chromecast, which isn't supported by the Android Amazon app).
  • The biggest benefit to Roku is I believe it has access to both Google Play video and Amazon Instant video so if you use both this is going to be a better option over Chromecast, Android TV, or Fire TV. Posted via the Android Central App
  • This is the #1 reason I chose a Roku 3 for my main streaming box a few years ago.
  • The main reason I use my Roku stick more than my chromecast is the fact that the apps are on the stick and so on your tv and you control with the included remote. Better fast forward and rewind than using the app on your phone is the feature I like the most.
  • And that sounds like the roku will cater to the less tech savvy crowd (my dad). I think he can actually use this. Chrome cast is too much for him lol Posted via the Android Central App
  • Well I'm tech savvy and prefer any Roku experience to the Chromecast. The remote is a big part of it.
  • Trust me it's better thousands of apps plus I tried to cast watch ESPN to my Chromecast and it sucks the sound don't match the picture roku is my go to streamer I have the roku 3 and the stick. Posted via the Android Central App
  • Chromecast requires another device to provide content, this does not.
  • Lots of channels to choose from. I have all 3 (roku, Apple tv3, chrome cast gen 1) and greatly prefer roku due to no ecosystem lock-in and amazing amount of channels. The killer feature for me is being able to plug in my headphones into the Roku remote so all the sound is streamed directly to the headphones . That way I can watch TV at the volume I prefer at night, without disturbing the wife and the kids. Looks like the streaming stick actually allows you to stream sound via your phone, so you could use your bluetooth headphones as well. ------- Note 5
  • Hotel/dormitory connection is a great feature, coupled with an android based OS means could be one of the greatest Kodi sticks yet!
    Probably better than fire tv too as not stuck with Amazon market
  • The Spotify app on Roku is in dire need of an update. I'm surprised this has still not been addressed, but I guess the question is why hasn't Spotify shown the app any attention in a looonggggg time? It's missing a ton of features that the desktop and mobile apps have had for ages!
  • Curiously, how old is your Roku? I find that my Roku 2 xs is pretty awful at Google Play, Comedy Central, and the TWC app (on HD at least)...but works perfectly for Netflix, Amazon, and Hulu Plus. The newest versions of Rokus are good at everything. Posted via the Android Central App
  • The phone streaming "feature," which is actually just Miracast support, is wonky at best. I couldn't even get it to stream reliable audio, I don't want to think about video. Roku is a better video platform than AndroidTV, but it's "games" are a complete joke.
  • Did u expect AAA's Posted via the Android Central App
  • I'd settle for A and high B. SHIELD actually gives me some titles that might be considered AA these days. Plus I already paid for some of them for my Android device.
  • It casts perfectly for me. Posted via the Android Central App
  • It essentially does everything a traditional Roku does, with "channels" for Netflix, Hulu, et al. One of the best features if you're a Time Warner Cable customer, the box can replace one of their non-dvr HD cable boxes with the TWC channel...including their on demand, and everything but ESPN (have to download the ESPN channel). Posted via the Android Central App
  • Your title is a bit misleading. It makes it seem as though the previous streaming stick didn't have dual-band wifi. It most certainly did. The only wifi update here is the addition of MIMO.
  • Still waiting on the Roku 4 in Canada... Not sure what's going on there.
  • This is huge to me, i have a 3 in my living room and it's fast. The original stick is in my bedroom, for obvious reasons being the remote, i don't want to screw with my phone to watch TV, but it is ridiculously slow, i can't believe it took them this long to do this, so yeah, I'll be picking one up for sure. Posted via the Android Central App
  • I'll reserve judgement until user reviews come out. I purchased a Roku stick a couple months ago and the speed is fine. I was hoping an upgraded version would support 4K not just 1080P. Posted via Android Central App
  • It could be my unit but i doubt it, it streams just fine, but the loading time is awful, from launching Netflix to the unit catching up to the stream is painful, i think the upgraded processor will make it much snappier Posted via the Android Central App
  • Big question, will it now run kodi as well as a firestick? Posted via the Android Central App