What is a Roku?
Roku is a box that you can connect to your television through a cable to stream entertainment from the Internet through the various content providers. The Roku Streaming Box has its lineup to more than 1000 channels. This includes all the major streamers plus a number of small niche and local channels. Some of the services, such as Hulu Plus, Netflix, HBO Go, Amazon, Spotify and various sports apps, require paid subscriptions. Whereas many others, including Pandora, Crackle and a large number of stations that provide news, music, international programming, public domain classics and similar content, are free! You can even rent shows & movies through some Roku apps. All the current models also allow you to send limited content from your phone to your TV through the Roku mobile app.
What is the Roku Streaming Stick?
The Roku Streaming Stick is the size of an average USB thumb drive much like a dongle. The Roku Streaming Stick takes all the capabilities of the current Roku box and crams them into a tiny thumb drive-sized form. The smallest Roku Streaming Stick is 3.5 by 3.5 by 1 inches.
There are two versions of the Roku Streaming Stick.
- One is the the original MHL version, called the Roku Ready version & it measures about 2.7 by 1 by 0.4 inches.
- The Second one is the new HDMI version measuring 3.1 by 1.1 by 0.5 inches.
Both these Roku Streaming Sticks plug directly into a television port and allow you to stream movies, shows, music and more & all via your home WiFi network, without taking up the living room space required by current set-top boxes. Both the Roku Streaming Sticks stream at up to 1080p video resolution. They both provide digital over HDMI audio output with 5.1 and 7.1 surround pass through with applicable content respectively. Both the Streaming Sticks are compatible with 802.11a/b/g/n dual-band WiFi. The faster the wifi is, the better for HD streaming. Roku recommends a minimum of 1.5 Mbps to view the standard definition and 3.0 Mbps to view HD.
Now the question arises that does the Roku Streaming Stick really turn your TV into a Smart TV? A Smart TV is a television that can access the Internet. Usually, the term ‘Smart Tv’ is used to refer to television sets with computer components and software built into them which allows everything from surfing the net to playing games to streaming movies. The Streaming Stick will provide most of these capabilities to any HDTV that is not already a Smart TV. For the ones which already are, it’s likely to provide far more streaming channels than the TV’s built-in software. So there it goes, I hope it answers your question.
Let’s compare the The Roku Streaming Stick with Other Set-top and Stick Options
Apple TV is one of Roku’s competitors, however they don’t offer a product comparable in size to the Roku Streaming Stick.
There are many set-top boxes stick devices that offer different features and sets of channels with varying prices. Picking the one that’s best for you requires a bit of research, however here’s a bit of something for you:
Boxee Box, like Roku also offers a large number of channels. It also has a few extra perks, like streaming from your home network, a keyboard on the back of its remote control, a full Web browser, two USB ports & Ethernet. It also has the Live TV device & a plug-in contraption which lets you stream local broadcast stations. However, box is priced much higher than Roku.
This brings us to a conclusion that Roku Streaming Device is good to have as it has the most channels, even if those include lots of little niche stuff!