- High quality video & sound
- Take it anywhere!
- Having to power the device
- Setting up a Roku account
Roku offer streaming devices that allow you to turn your HDMI enabled TV or monitor into a smart hub and offers up a magnitude of rich content for you to enjoy. Roku currently has three devices on the market: the Streaming Stick, the Roku 2 and the Roku 3. We’ve heard of Roku before, have checked out some of their competitors but have yet to try Roku for ourselves. We got sent the Streaming Stick so now is our chance to check it out!
So the Roku Streaming Stick turns your HDMI enabled TV or monitor, into a smart device. Most TVs now come with this smart feature built in, but not all the manufacturers offer the same service or apps which I know from experience, have found it’s rather disappointing! The Streaming Stick saves they day, by offering an all in one streaming device.
So what is available?
- Your key TV channels, including BBC iPlayer, ITV Hub, 40D & 5 Demand.
- Further TV catch up/on demand via Now TV for the satellite channels.
- Netflix for movies & TV series.
- Amazon Prime for movies & TV series.
- Sky Store & Google Play Store to rent or buy movies & TV series.
- YouTube, Spotify, Dailymotion, Deezer
In total, there are over 2000 channels on offer, which is quite incredible! The list above is just a handful of the key apps available but there are more than you could imagine available. If you are unaware of these apps, some of them DO require you to pay a subscription. In no way do Roku offer free use of say Netflix or Amazon Prime, they just provide the means to be able to use them.
The streaming stick is indeed, a stick! Slightly larger than your conventional USB memory stick, the HDMI stick gets inserted into an available HDMI port on the back of your TV or monitor. The stick does require a small amount of electrical power, so you can either power the device via USB cable plugged into a USB port on your TV OR plug it into your closest plug socket, with the provided wall adapter. It seems unnecessary to mention in this day and age, but you will also require a broadband connection and wireless router for the stick to work. For HD content, Roku recommend a minimum of 3mb download speed for a smooth stream but the faster the better.
Setting up the stick is very easy. Simply plug it into a HDMI port, give it its power, wait 30 seconds for it to boot up and follow the on screen instructions. It took about five minutes to fully set up and I did need to create an account with Roku to use the device.
I really like its sleek, clean and easy to navigate menu system. It’s very easy to browse and the remote is great. The quick launch buttons at the bottom are brilliant. Quality wise, it was flawless for me. I tried a few movies on Netflix, in glorious 1080p HD and they streamed without a problem. No 4K support just yet! I should add I tested it with my 90mb net speed. Sound wise it was fine, there is no output for audio so it gets a little tricky to use with an AV receiver if desired. Other note worthy features of the streaming stick include the use of the ‘cast’ button, which allows you to send certain content from your phone, to your TV. Also you can take the stick anywhere with you, and there is also an app that allows you to control the device, in case you’re not keen on the remote.The only negative to the stick is that ideally you need a HDMI port on the side of your TV, otherwise it may stick out the back a fair bit and prevent you from having your TV on the wall. If you can’t provide power via TV USB, it’s a little annoying to plug it in at the wall and use up another precious power socket.
So that was the Roku Streaming Stick, but they also have two boxes, that offer the same service, plus a little bit more. Both boxes, the Roku 2 and 3 are more like traditional TV boxes and will accept an ethernet cable for faster streaming and also include a USB port and MicroSD slot. The Roku 3, the best you can get, includes a remote control that allows for headphone input for private listening, and also motion control for gaming.
The Streaming Stick retails at £29.99, the Roku 2 retails at £59.99 and the Roku 3 retails at £69.99. For further info and to purchase, visit the Roku website.