Roku, makers of, you know, the Roku, introduced a new product this morning, to be called the Streaming Stick. It's a teeny little device that looks mostly like a Roku-branded USB flash drive, but instead of a USB plug, it has a particular kind of HDMI plug. You plug it right into your HDTV's HDMI port, and, theoretically, you have a brand-new connected TV that you can even control with your regular remote.
So this is a pretty cool idea; it's not a wild step forward over, say, the current-gen Roku 2 XS (reviewed here), which is, as its name suggests, ridiculously small, but the Streaming Stick would definitely streamline matters a bit. It'll take up no space at all in your entertainment center, require no additional power supply to crowd your outlets nor an HDMI cable to muck up your perfectly minimalist TV Room of the Future, and you'll be able to control it with your TV's remote, rather than a separate Roku remote. All great! And Roku has somehow managed to cram an entire Roku's guts into this tiny thing, including the processor, memory, and Wi-Fi antenna.
And MHL is so new that it's only been available for three months, on a very small number of TVs (like, three or four). And those TVs, because they're high-end enough to pack this brand-new tech, are also high-end enough to already have built-in Wi-Fi and, in the case of this $3,500 Samsung, a whole bunch of the Roku's key apps, like Netflix and Hulu. Roku already has Insignia, Best Buy's house brand, on board to release a Streaming Stick-compatible line sometime this year, but it's a long ways from the kind of "plug into any TV!" compatibility we'd like.
Still, we like Roku, and this is a cool idea, provided MHL takes off the way Roku seems to be betting it will. Roku says it'll be released in the second half of 2012, and may be sold separately or bundled in with TVs.
"MHL is so new that it's only been available for three months, on a very small number of TVs (like, three or four). And those TVs, because they're high-end enough to pack this brand-new tech, are also high-end enough to already have built-in Wi-Fi and,...a whole bunch of the Roku's key apps, like Netflix and Hulu."
Sounds like this stick technology is already outdated....
by the time enough new TVs are made with the MHL port there will be no need for the Roku stick, as all its services will be available via Wi-Fi or built in apps.
@aecter, I agree totally. It sounds like they created an obsolete technology. It's one thing to create something for a problem that doesn't yet exist, but its another to create a solution for a problem that's already been solved in a better way. Now if they created it so it could be used on any TV with a regular HDMI port, that would be another thing.
Science always asks "can we," but doesn't seem to ask "should we."