As the number of ways to stream your content grows, Roku has given its Streaming Stick a refresh for faster, more reliable performance. On top of its new quad-core processor, the new Stick lets users listen to their content privately using a mobile device and headphones.
At the core of the updated Roku experience is OS 7.1, the company's latest attempt at making its TV interface quick and easy to navigate. The system is now better integrated with its iOS and Android companion apps, which means your phone can act as a remote control, enable voice search or provide a keyboard to enter text on screen.
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The companion app has also added wireless audio capability, allowing users to listen to their content through headphones connected to their phone instead of disturbing their partner by playing it through the TV speakers. Although more expensive Roku models have previously allowed you to connect headphones to the remote control, it's the first time the entry level model has been given similar functionality.
In a move closely mirroring Chromecast's capabilities, the new Streaming Stick will allow users to cast Netflix and YouTube to the TV from their mobile devices rather than forcing them to do it through the built-in interface.
To support this new functionality, and make sure it stays up to speed with the Google Chromecast, the Streaming Stick's internals have been thoroughly reworked. That means there's a new quad-core processor for eight times more processing power squeezed into a more compact body measuring 0.5 x 3.3 x 0.8 in (1.3 x 8.4 x 2 cm) that makes it more wall-mounted flat-screen friendly than before. Complementing the faster guts is permanent dual-band MIMO wireless for a quick, reliable streaming experience.
The updated Streaming Stick, which connects to a TV via HDMI, is available for preorder, and will cost US$49.99. As before, that price includes an RF remote control.
Roku's launch video for its new Streaming Stick is below.