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Roku Streaming Stick: What you need to know about the quad-core streamer

Roku Streaming Stick

Here’s what you should know about the Roku Streaming Stick

It may look like an oversized USB key but it’s way more exciting than that.

Today, Roku lifted its embargo and announced the newest Roku Streaming Stick. The Roku Streaming Stick model 3600 has been paraded before the tech press already and now, we’re allowed to talk about it.

As the new kid on the block, the Roku Streaming Stick, which presently has a pre-order price of $49.99, is also the most powerful. It beats Amazon’s Fire TV Stick and Google’s newest Chromecast in terms of raw specs. In real terms, it’s eight times more powerful than the previous Roku Streaming Stick which was released in 2014. It’s sleek, it’s hardworking, and it’s simple to power down.

To make it easy to tell the new kid apart from its older brother, the new Roku Streaming Stick is black where the previous model was purple.

Stick with a stick? Or knock it out the box?

Generally speaking, streaming sticks aren’t as powerful as a full-sized set top box. There are great reasons to choose a streaming stick over a full-sized Roku player, though.

If portability is a key concern — if you do a lot of traveling, for example — a streaming stick is a great choice.

If you want to play the latest games on your TV without investing in a bespoke video game console, you’ll be better served by a streaming box.

If you want to wall-mount your TV and you’re tired of cables drooping down and ruining the aesthetic, a streaming stick gets up and out of the way.

If you’re looking to stream 4K or do other connection-intensive things, a hard-wired Ethernet connection is a better bet, and you’ll only find that on a set top box.

Long story short: it all comes down to personal preference. A piece of advice, for what it’s worth: if you think you can get away with using a streaming stick as opposed to a set top box, do it.

With that in mind, let’s take a closer look at the newest Roku Streaming Stick.

Rocku Stick

The Roku Stick device and remote

The new, sleek, black Roku Streaming Stick is smaller than the old purple Roku Streaming Stick. Given that it spends most of its life hidden out of view, plugged directly into the HDMI port on your TV, looks maybe don’t matter all that much. Still, it’s a good looking bit of AV equipment, as these things go.

What you will spend a lot of time looking at and using is the remote. It’s the same basic remote that comes along with other newer Roku devices. And hey, if it ain’t broke…

The remote includes quick buttons for Sling TV, Netflix, Amazon Video, and Google Play. Unless you buy it from Walmart, then it will have a Vudu quick button instead of the Google Play button. Must be nice to be able to wield that kind of retail might.

Roku Streaming Stick stats and performance

The old Roku Streaming Stick suffered from a long start-up time… or, more accurately, users of the stick suffered. The new Roku Streaming Stick has made great strides in that department. Start-up time and the time it takes to launch a channel or app are both helped, no doubt, by the quad-core processor. This alone might be reason enough for existing Roku Streaming Stick users to upgrade.

The Roku Streaming Stick uses the latest version of the Roku set top operating system, version 7.1. In addition to all the performance and usability improvements the latest OS brings, it also offers the option to mute the TV and plug headphones into your smartphone to listen without disturbing anyone else. It’s a neat feature.

How to turn off the Roku Stick

Dealing with an Internet data cap? That’s lame… but a streaming stick is a great way to have more control over the data you use because when you turn off the TV, the stick will turn off too. Alternatively, you can pull the Roku Stick out of the HDMI port to turn it off. You no longer need to worry about whether or not your stream is continuing after you’ve turned off the TV.

Availability

Pre-orders start today on Roku’s site. After launch, you’ll be able to buy the device at all the usual retail suspects. If pre-ordering, delivery is expected by the end of this month (April 2016).

Only you can answer that question. If you like the Roku operating environment but you lament the slow performance of the previous Roku Streaming Stick then yeah, an upgrade certainly wouldn’t go amiss.

This is definitely an iterative improvement; a general souping up of the performance under the hood while keeping the familiar Roku operating environment.

In short, if you feel like you’d benefit from the faster performance (including better Wi-Fi connectivity) then yes, you could definitely spend $50 on far less useful things.

Roku Streaming Stick

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