Roku has been offering small set-top-boxes that let you stream internet video and audio to a television for a few years. Now the company is offering the same features in an even tinier package.
The Roku Streaming Stick is a $100 USB flash drive-sized device that you can plug into the HDMI port of any TV that supports MHL (which allows the stick to draw power and output video from the same port. It will be available in October.
Roku is also working to certify Roku Ready televisions from Apex, Hitachi, and Insignia (a Best Buy brand).
Once the Roku Streaming Stick is connected to your TV you can connect to your home network over WiFi and stream content from 600 channels including Netflix, Hulu Plus, Amazon Instant Video, HBO Go, Vudu, Pandora, and TuneIn.
While some of those channels provide free content you’ll still need to pay for videos (or a subscription to use others.
You can use your standard TV remote control to navigate through the menus. Roku has also updated its Android and iOS apps to support a Play on Roku feature. This lets you send music, photos, or videos from your mobile device to a TV with a Roku device connected.
The Roku stick measures about 3 inches long and it features built-in WiFi, memory, a CPU, and software. In other words, it’s not all that different from the MK802 or other stick-sized mini computers we’ve seen… but it runs custom software designed specifically for streaming media on a TV.