Streaming sticks/dongles are becoming more and more popular due to their ease of use also because they’re much cheaper than a lot of media streaming boxes. I recently got my hands on the Roku Streaming Stick which costs £49, half the price of the Roku 3. The Roku Stick plugs straight into a HDMI port in your TV and has no external box which sits separately collecting dust.
To get started simply plug the device into an empty HDMI port and then hookup the power. Unfortunately you read that correctly, and the HDMI dongle isn’t self powered, but instead is provided through a microUSB port located on the end of the device. Usually you’ll have another USB port on the TV which this cable can plug straight into and power the stick but if you’ve just got the one then you can use the mains power adapter which Roku include in the box.
Once you’re all hooked up you can connect it to your home Wi-Fi network via the built in wireless adapter. You’ll then have to complete the registration and verification process similar to that which is done on the Roku 3. It doesn’t take too long, although you will need to grab yourself a Roku account if you haven’t already.
In the box you’ll also receive the Roku remote which differs a little to the one you get with the Roku 3 and similar players. You won’t be finding any motion sensors on the remote or stick itself which means you can’t play games which use this such as Angry Birds. Also missing from the remote is the headphone jack so no more private listening – if you ever used that feature anyway.
Thankfully you’re not restricted to using the bundled remote to control the Roku Stick and can also download a completely free Android or iOS app to do so. A great feature of this is that any media stored on your iOS or Android device including photos, music and videos can be streamed straight to the stick.
In terms of services and channels on the Roku Stick there is a huge selection including some very well known names such as Netflix, YouTube, Sky Store, Now TV, Spotify as well as your regular catch up services such as BBC iPlayer, 4OD, Demand 5 and ITV Player. The interface like the Roku 3 is smooth and easy to use, if not just a little slower, but this isn’t a major problem and won’t stop you doing anything. In total you have over 400 apps to choose from, so there is sure to be something for everyone.
The Roku Streaming Stick is a great little device and brings smart functionality to any normal TV through a small HDMI dongle. Among the hundreds of channels, you’ll find many well known apps including catch up services as well as some interesting but less well known downloadable channels. Just like its older brother, the Roku Stick has an easy to use interface and the remote is responsive.Order from Amazon