Roku Streaming Stick Nears Release

Dave Zatz —  September 24, 2012

roku-stick-label

Despite being announced three times (1, 2, 3), the Roku Streaming Stick isn’t yet available… however, release nears, as the Stick just passed through the FCC and it seems we’re still on track for an October launch. Roku’s goal with the Stick is to bring “smart TV” capabilities to perhaps dumb sets, without actually requiring a box. But, while the Roku Stick may be a compelling concept, it’s an idea whose time hasn’t come. It’s MHL-compliant, integrating with a host television (or Blu-ray player) via a shared HDMI port. Unfortunately, there’s only a small number of devices that currently utilize MHL and I suspect a large number of customers will be quite disappointed to learn their new Christmas gadget is incompatible with their television – despite select partner hardware to be branded “Roku Ready.” Further, at the same price or more than a traditional streaming box, the $99 Roku Stick really only offers a reduction in clutter. And while that often motivates me, I’ve moved my Roku LT out of sight by mounting it onto my television. Having said that, I was pleased to learn the Roku Streaming Stick will provide dual band wireless capabilities — featuring 5GHz, in addition to 2.4GHz. Not to mention there will be two models, the 3420 in black and the 3400 in Roku purple.

4 responses to Roku Streaming Stick Nears Release

  1. Hopefully this will be part of a larger trend though. I would have to think this would be great for a wall mounted TV.

  2. I don’t get how it works with the TV’s remote. I don’t think my TV remote even has a back button like the Roku remotes do.

  3. Evan, you’d use your television remote. And, presumably, “Roku Ready” devices will have more familiar Roku buttons. But not all MHL devices would. Hopefully, you’d also have a smartphone so you could use the Roku remote app. I guess. Yet, like I say, I think there will be just a niche market for this given consumer confusion, compatibility issues, and limited benefit over existing boxes. But I’m not sure they had much luck marketing an integrated solution, which is probably one reason we ended up here. It’s too bad they also buried the new smartphone music and photo sharing features in the latest Streaming Stick press release and outreach — it’s a compelling new feature and something they should have promoted separately.

    Kevin, yeah perhaps one day there will be tons more MHL devices with properly placed ports. But it won’t be 2012. I still remember TVs, like 5 or 8 years ago, with CableCARD slots. Was a great idea. But everyone was too soon. Now that CableCARD is more understood and better supported (with multistream capabilities), there are no new CableCARD television to be had…

  4. “Having said that, I was pleased to learn the Stick will provide dual band wireless capabilities”

    Glad to see that at least someone at Roku isn’t completely insane.

    Now if they could get that one sane person to have input into the standalone box design…