Roku Bows Smart-TV Stick4 Jan, 2012 By: Erik Gruenwedel
Roku Jan. 4 unveiled a wireless device that plugs into any television, enabling instant streaming functionality without the need of a third-party set-top box, HDMI cable or external power source.
Saratoga, Calif.-based Roku, which created the first Netflix-branded streaming player in 2008, said the new Roku Streaming Stick is about the size of a standard USB flash drive. The device, which will be rolled out this year with Best Buy’s proprietary Insignia branded TVs, will feature built-in WiFi, processor, memory and software to deliver Roku’s collection of more than 400 streaming content channels.
The Roku Streaming Stick does not require any cables or a separate power source, and can be controlled by the TV remote. Like Roku players, it can be updated with free software upgrades and channel enhancements. The Roku Streaming Stick will be available in the second half of 2012. It can be bundled with a TV in retail or sold separately for consumers to use with their own TVs.
Greg Peters, VP with Netflix, said the stick would allow even easier TV access to subscription video-on-demand.
“[It] is a great solution for Netflix because it allows us to deliver the Netflix experience found on the Roku platform to potentially any TV,” Peters said.
The Roku stick plugs into MHL-enabled HDMI ports on TVs. MHL is a new standard that uses the HDMI connector on TVs to deliver power and other elements for streaming. MHL currently is adopted by nearly 100 hardware and manufacturing vendors, including Nokia, Samsung, Silicon Image, Sony and Toshiba, which are the joint founders of the MHL Consortium.
“Smart-TV manufacturers have struggled to find an application platform that sticks with consumers especially since software is not their area of expertise,” said Kurt Scherf, VP and principal analyst at Parks Associates. “The Roku Streaming Stick is a game-changer for the smart-TV market. It takes the leading streaming platform and integrates into the TV in a way that no one has been able to do before.”