Roku has unveiled the Roku Streaming Stick – an HDMI dongle about the size of a standard USB flash drive that will simply plug into a TV to instantly transform it into a Smart TV. It basically includes everything you’d find in a Roku player (built-in WiFi, processor, memory and software) and will deliver all the channels present on the Roku platform.
It will be possible to use just one remote for the TV and for streaming and no cables or power adaptor are needed. Another advantage of the Roku stick, is that when it becomes outdated and the hardware needs to be upgraded to be able to take advantage of new software capabilities, it’s possible to simply purchase a new low cost Roku Streaming Stick (or another equivalent product) without having to replace the much more expensive TV.
The Roku Streaming Stick will plug into MHL-enabled HDMI ports on TVs. MHL is a new standard that uses the HDMI connector on TVs to deliver power and a communications link between external devices and MHL-enabled TV. You can read my previous blog post entitled “MHL (Mobile High Definition Link) Turns Your Phone into a Set-Top Box, Game Console and more” to find more about MHL and see a demo of the cool things you can achieve with a MHL-enabled TV and Smartphone via a simple USB to HDMI/MHL cable. The main drawback is that there are not so many MHL-enabled TV right now (Toshiba WL800A and the Samsung UN46D7000 were the first) and they are rather expensive, but it’s very likely MHL will take off this year.
They did not provide technical information for the Roku Streaming Stick, but it’s likely it will use similar specs as the Roku 2 XS that is a Broadcom BCM2835 processor running Linux.
Roku says the device will be available later this year at prices comparable to Roku players (50 to 100 USD). The Roku Streaming Stick will also be sold bundle with HDTV. Insignia is reported to be one of the the first manufacturers to pair the Roku Streaming Stick to create a Smart TV.
Jean-Luc started CNX Software in 2010 as a part-time endeavor, before quitting his job as a software engineering manager, and starting to write daily news, and reviews full time later in 2011.