Roku HDMI Streaming Stick unveiled

Turn your dumb TV into a smart one with a simple plug-in stick, but there is an HDMI caveat

January 5, 2012

So you want to make your “dumb” TV into a smart one? Then Roku has a solution, albeit not as wide ranging a solution as we’d like.

A smart TV set, as you’re most probably aware, is an internet connected one which allows you to use apps and integrated streaming services.

Roku’s Streaming Stick is quite simply a small USB style stick which plugs into an HDMI port to turn a normal TV into a smart one. It’s way smaller than similar solutions such as the media streaming boxes which are produced by a number of firms.

The compact little package offers a built-in processor and memory, software and wi-fi capabilities – but what it doesn’t offer is compatibility with the current standard HDMI port.

Instead, you need an MHL-enabled HDMI port, which are only currently on a few newer TV sets (though more are being announced at CES and launched throughout 2012).

The catch is, of course, that most of these TVs will be net connected anyway. It’s older sets which the Roku could really spice up, but it won’t be compatible with their HDMI ports. That seems like rather a missed opportunity.

Roku has instead taken the angle that because the technology on board smart TVs becomes outdated relatively quickly, its stick solution is one which can be easily replaced to keep upgrading.

Roku noted: “Today’s Smart TVs become outdated in just a couple of years because as software evolves the hardware needs to be upgraded to keep pace. While short hardware product cycles are expected with mobile devices such as smartphones, consumers generally keep their TV for six to eight years.”

“By moving the streaming platform to a stick that’s easily replaceable, consumers no longer have to worry about their large screen Smart TVs becoming obsolete before their time.”

The Streaming Stick will offer over 400 channels (as found on the Roku platform currently) and will be available in the second half of 2012, both sold separately and bundled with TV sets.


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