The Roku Streaming Stick has over 2.000 apps – including Netflix, NBC Sports Live Extra, Plex, Sling TV and more. The HDMI dongle is the size of an ordinary storage stick and with a forgettable design, it gets easily disguised among the background.
It costs $49 and it offers a ton more apps than what you would get from a Google Chromecast or an Amazon Fire TV Stick.
This isn’t the company’s first try at a streaming stick. Back in the day, Roku developed a similar dongle that, unfortunately, worked only with MLH-compatible TVs. Meaning that consumers were forced to buy a Roku Ready TV in order for the streaming stick to work.
The company has learned from its mistakes, and it has gone down a different road this time around. It even comes with a nifty remote, and an user friendly interface. Indeed, it costs a little bit more than the Chromecast, and it doesn’t have that special feature that allows owners to mirror an entire computer directly to the TV screen, but it makes it up with a plethora of apps.
Roku Streaming Stick Review
- Over 2.000 apps;
- It’s cheaper than the Roku 3;
- It’s smaller than the Roku Box;
- It has an user-friendly interface;
- It has a nifty remote.
- Can’t mirror other devices;
- Too many useless apps.
Roku Streaming Stick Price – $49
The Roku Stick is quite petite, but the manufacturer managed to pack it full of goodies – and, of course, it plastered the familiar purple colour of Roku on the dongle. However, it isn’t an obnoxious colour, and it can easily blend in the background. That is, if your room doesn’t look like a mortician’s – filled only with black and white.
It’s a little bit larger than the Chromecast, and it stands at 3.1 x 1.1 x .5 – inches. It can be easily hidden behind a TV set. It weighs almost half the size of the chubby Chromecast – with about 18 grams lighter. But size isn’t really that important, as a 34 gram stick weighs exactly the same in your pocket as an 18 gram dongle.
The Roku works exactly as it’s been advertised. Just put it in the HDMI slot, and as long as you connect it to a power source, it’ll work like a charm. Included in the box are: a 6 feet long micro-USB cable, and a power adapter.
The manufacturer notes that it doesn’t require more than 2W for streaming HD videos.
It has tiny vents on the sides of the dongle so its insides run silently.
We here at TrendingTechNow haven’t experienced any issues with WiFi connectivity, and its dual-band wireless N antennas are seemingly flawless even though we tossed only HD videos at it.
As we mentioned before, it has 2.000 apps. Yet, you’ll most likely use about 30 or so. Sure, it’s super great that owners have a plethora of options to choose from, but they aren’t really needed.
A large chunk of the apps are quite horrible, or they’re in a niche that almost nobody has ever heard of.
Don’t be discouraged though. The Roku Streaming Stick has all the important apps and Roku Channels available. YouTube, Netflix, Hulu Plus, Amazon Instant Video, HBO Go, Vudu, and Crackle so you can stream all the awesome TV shows and movies without a problem.
The Roku Stream Stick also offers a pretty great ecosystem filled with music streaming services such as Spotify, Pandora, Plex, iHeart Radio, Rdio and some others that I haven’t heard of. Unfortunately, it doesn’t have Apple Music nor Google Play Music.
You’ll find about 50 or so apps for children – PBS kids and four different Disney channels to name just a few.
Sports fans aren’t forgotten. The Roku Stick offers more than 65 apps, including WatchESPN, WWE Network, MLB.TV, MLS Live and NHL GameCenter.
There are channels for Science and Technology, News and Weather, but the most interesting has to be the Alien and UFOs Channel, with the most bizarre one being the Occult Network Channel.
The remote is super nifty, but it comes as a little disappointment. It comes with the usual stop/play, rewind and fast forward buttons, the traditional direction pad, a back and a home button, and four specially designed buttons for Netflix, Blockbuster, M-Go and Amazon Instant Video.
Blockbuster is the most confusing one. Any other button would have been a better choice. Heck, even the Occult Network Channel would have been a brilliant and funny addition.
The Roku Streaming Stick remote isn’t as advanced as the one offered with the Roku 3. It doesn’t have a headphone jack, nor does it have motion control sensors for video games.
The interface is drowned in the traditional Roku purple, and it isn’t really a bad thing as it brings to light every app logo.
You’ll find the default My Channels menu to be super simplistic, while offering at the same time all of the functionality you are looking for – an easy to navigate grid that is highly customizable.
You can move apps anywhere you want.
Want Netflix to be the first, and Hulu Plus the third, with Amazon sandwiched between the two? Sure, no problem.
Under My Channels you’ll find different sections for TV shows and movies. However, don’t get too hyped about them. Both menus are powered by the pay-per-view video service M-Go. You do get two free movies when you sign-up for the service, but you better check the library of movies and shows before you commit to it.
The search function is really great, with a ton of filters at your disposal – from the name of the TV show or movie, to the actor and the director.
Also, you can download free themes from the Roku Store. HBO, at the current moment, offers a free Game of Thrones theme, while Netflix has some House of Cards concepts up for grabs.
The Roku Streaming Stick is quite great. We haven’t encountered any lag issues, nor crippling bugs. As a matter of fact, we didn’t see any bugs whatsoever.
It has 2.000 apps available, but you’ll most likely use about 30 or so. If you’re a sports lover, then that number will probably pass the 50 app mark.
Not bad, but seriously not a factor to consider when deciding whether to buy the Roku or not.