Roku on a Stick: Making Smart TVs Smarter

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Roku quickly made a name for itself over the last few years thanks to its smart (and affordable) TV set-top boxes that allow users to easily stream Internet content from Hulu, Netflix and others to their TVs. Today, the company is announcing its newest product: the Roku Streaming Stick. This device is the size of a USB flash drive, but includes built-in WiFi, a processor, memory and software. It's not a stand-alone piece of hardware, though. Instead, the idea here is to augment existing smart TVs – or at least the few of them that support the so-called Mobile High-Definition Link (MHL) standard. Basically, the idea here is that you can plug in a device like Roku's new Streaming Stick (or a mobile phone or any other standard-compliant device) and add new functionality to your TV.

For Roku, this means the company can offer its portfolio of channels and services to users through a significantly more inexpensive device, as the Streaming Stick doesn't need cables or a power supply, for example.

The devices will go on sale later this year, which is probably not a bad move, given that a number of new MHL-compatible TVs will be announced at CES later this week. Roku is also partnering with Best Buy's house-brand Insignia to "pair the Roku Streaming Stick to create a Smart TV for Best Buy."

Frederic Lardinois founded SiliconFilter in 2011. Before starting this site, he wrote about 1,500 articles for ReadWriteWeb. His areas of interest are consumer web and mobile apps, as well as Internet-connected devices like cars, smart sensors and toasters. You can reach him at [email protected]

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