It looks like Roku has been reduced to a USB stick. The new Roku Streaming Stick is about to make your dumb TV a whole lot smarter, without much of a fuss. The stick now looks like a simply USB flash drive, and I have to say that I like this form factor.
The Roku Streaming Stick packs Wi-Fi, a processor, memory, and custom software that allows it to connect to MHL-enabled HDMI ports on modern HDTVs. This means that you’ll be able to access services like Netflix, HBO Go, Hulu Plus and Pandora without any problems. It hasn’t yet been confirmed whether it will offer 720p or 1080p resolution, as Roku typically only includes 1080p on their top-of-the-line models.
While many sets these days have built-in digital content capabilities already, Roku makes a good point that by going with their approach, you’ll be able to upgrade to the latest tech inexpensively and without having to buy a whole new TV. Good news for consumers, not so much for the TV manufacturers though.
The only problem I see with the Streaming Stick the need for the special HDMI MHL port, that not all HDTVs have. If you haven’t got it on your TV, you won’t be able to use this version of Roku. Some sets from Samsung and Toshiba already have this port, and many more are coming out this year. However, if you have an older set without one, you’ll need to stick with a regular set-top box.